Microstructural changes in thermochemical heat storage material over cycles: Insights from micro-X-ray computed tomography

Aastha Arya*, Amirhoushang Mahmoudi, Pim A.J. Donkers, Gerrit Brem, Mina Shahi*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper studies the effect of successive (de)hydration cycles on the structure of potassium carbonate K2CO3·1.5H2O grains for low-temperature heat storage applications. Such structural changes are caused by exposure of the salt to water vapor or removal of water from it, accompanied by successive swelling and shrinkage. Understanding the material's internal structure is key to predicting its behaviour and optimizing its design. However, due to the simultaneous and persistent occurrence of structural changes and transport mechanisms throughout the process, gaining a complete understanding of the phenomenon can be challenging. Unlike conventional experimental approaches and two-dimensional imaging techniques used for porosity assessment, our study showcases the qualitative and quantitative alterations in the porosity and microstructure of potassium carbonate. This analysis is achieved by using Micro-X-ray computed tomography (Micro-CT). The study focuses on the impact of cycling on grain microstructure, investigating pore volume distribution, radial variation of pore sizes, and density of individual grains. It was noted that the porosity increased from 6.4 % to 19.7 % after seven cycles. Initially, we observed a greater number of pores in the core of the uncycled salt grain. However, after cycling, we noticed a more even distribution, with a higher number of pores in the outer region of the grain, which caused a radial change in porosity. Lastly, this research provides the intrinsic and apparent densities of both non-cycled and cycled potassium carbonate specimens. Micro-CT is a good tool for a better understanding of changes in thermochemical material at a structural level. Calculation of porosity provided a pathway to calculate apparent and intrinsic density. The demonstrated method can be used for a wide range of salt hydrates, enhancing the scope and applicability of this study in the field of low-temperature heat storage applications. Additionally, it gives the measuring parameter needed to calculate energy density and change in volume during the reaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120045
Number of pages15
JournalRenewable energy
Early online date24 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Potassium carbonate
  • Salt hydrate
  • Thermochemical energy storage
  • Thermochemical material
  • Thermogravimetric analysis
  • Micro-computed tomography


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