Liquid nitrogen energy storage unit

J. Afonso, Maria Isabel Simões Catarino, R. Patrício, A. Rocaboy, M. Linder, Gregoire Marie Jean Bonfait

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


An energy storage unit is a device able to store thermal energy with a limited temperature drift. After precooling such unit with a cryocooler it can be used as a temporarily cold source if the cryocooler is stopped or as a thermal buffer to attenuate temperature fluctuations due to heat bursts. In this article, after a brief study of the possible solutions for such devices, we show that a low temperature cell filled with liquid nitrogen and coupled to a room temperature expansion volume offers the most compact and light solution in the temperature range 60 K - 80 K. For instance, a low temperature cell as small as 23cm3 allows the storage of 3.7kJ between 76K and 81K. Experimental results were obtained varying the expansion volume size, the filling pressure and the temperature range. These results agree with our simple model based on thermodynamical properties of nitrogen. A cell filled with porous material was tested to confine the liquid in the cell independently of the gravity. This material enhances the thermal exchange for high liquid filling ratio whereas below »16% a solution must be found to improve the heat exchange coefficient between the fluid and the cell walls. Our calculations are extended to the 80K-120K temperature range for nitrogen and argon in order to clarify the various parameters to take into account for an energy storage unit dimensioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-629
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Cryocooler
  • Energy storage unit
  • Nitrogen
  • Space cryogenics
  • Thermal inertia


Dive into the research topics of 'Liquid nitrogen energy storage unit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this