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Title:
USE OF EXTERNAL AIR FOR CLOSED CYCLE INVENTORY CONTROL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/125535
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Systems and methods relating to use of external air for inventory control of a closed thermodynamic cycle system or energy storage system, such as a reversible Brayton cycle system, are disclosed. A method may involve, in a closed cycle system operating in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid may through a closed cycle fluid path. The closed cycle fluid path may include a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg. The method may further involve in response to a demand for increased power generation, compressing and dehumidifying environmental air. And the method may involve injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg.

Inventors:
APTE, Raj (1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA, 94043, US)
LAROCHELLE, Philippe (1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA, 94043, US)
Application Number:
US2017/065201
Publication Date:
July 05, 2018
Filing Date:
December 07, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
X DEVELOPMENT LLC (1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA, 94043, US)
International Classes:
F01K25/00; F02C1/10; F02G1/04
Domestic Patent References:
WO2015185891A12015-12-10
Foreign References:
US20150260463A12015-09-17
US5644928A1997-07-08
JP2011106755A2011-06-02
US20120039701A12012-02-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROHDE, Kurt, W. (McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP, 300 South Wacker DriveChicago, IL, 60606, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

We claim:

1. A method comprising:

in a closed cycle system operating in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg;

in response to a demand for increased power generation, compressing and dehumidifying environmental air; and

injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg.

2. The method of claim 1 , wherein the closed cycle system comprises a closed Brayton cycle system.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising:

extracting working fluid from the high pressure leg of the closed cycle fluid path; storing the extracted working fluid in a working fluid storage tank; and

injecting the extracted working fluid from the working fluid storage tank into the low pressure leg simultaneously with injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg.

4. The method of claim 1 , wherein the closed cycle system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through cold side heat exchanger with a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium, wherein dehumidifying the environmental air comprises:

transferring at least a portion of the CTS medium to a dehumidifier; and

thermally contacting the environmental air with the CTS medium within the dehumidifier and condensing water out of the environmental air.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein dehumidifying the environmental air occurs before compressing the environmental air.

6. The method of claim 4, wherein dehumidifying the environmental air occurs after compressing the environmental air.

7. The method of claim 4, further comprising:

after thermally contacting the environmental air with the CTS medium within the dehumidifier and condensing water out of the environmental air, transferring at least a portion of the CTS medium from the dehumidifier to an intermediate CTS storage tank.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the working fluid is air.

9. A method comprising:

in a closed cycle system in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg, and wherein the closed cycle system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through the cold side heat exchanger with a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium;

in response to a demand for decreased power generation, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path through an expansion valve, thereby cooling the expelled working fluid; and

thermally contacting the expelled working fluid with a portion of the CTS medium.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the expelled working fluid is thermally contacted with a portion of the CTS medium in an auxiliary heat exchanger.

11. The method of claim 9, wherein working fluid is expelled from the low pressure leg.

12. The method of claim 9, wherein the working fluid is air.

13. A system comprising:

a first compressor;

a hot side heat exchanger;

a turbine;

a cold side heat exchanger; a working fluid circulating in a closed cycle fluid path through, in sequence, the first compressor, the hot side heat exchanger, the turbine, and the cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg; and

a second compressor coupled to the low pressure leg and configured to, upon demand, compress environmental air and inject the compressed environmental air into the low pressure leg.

14. The system of claim 13, further comprising:

a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium, wherein the system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through the cold side heat exchanger with the CTS medium;

a CTS storage tank configured to store CTS medium; and

a dehumidifier configured to thermally contact the environmental air with a portion of the CTS medium and condense water out of the environmental air.

15. The system of claim 13, wherein the dehumidifier supplies dehumidified environmental air to the second compressor for compressing.

16. The system of claim 13, wherein the second compressor supplies compressed environmental air to the dehumidifier for dehumidification.

17. The system of claim 13 further comprising an intermediate CTS storage tank configured to receive CTS medium from the dehumidifier.

18. The system of claim 13 further comprising a working fluid storage tank containing working fluid at a pressure greater than a pressure of the working fluid in the low pressure leg, wherein the system is configured to, upon demand, inject working fluid from the working fluid storage tank into the low pressure leg simultaneously with the compressed environmental air.

19. The system of claim 13, wherein the working fluid is air.

20. A system comprising:

a first compressor;

a hot side heat exchanger; a turbine;

a cold side heat exchanger;

a working fluid circulating in a closed cycle fluid path through, in sequence, the first compressor, the hot side heat exchanger, the turbine, and the cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg;

a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium, wherein the system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through the cold side heat exchanger with the CTS medium;

an expansion valve configured to expel working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path; and

an auxiliary heat exchanger configured to thermally contact the expelled working fluid with at least a portion of the CTS medium.

21. The system of claim 20, wherein the working fluid is air.

Description:
USE OF EXTERNAL AIR FOR CLOSED CYCLE INVENTORY CONTROL

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Patent Application No. 15/394,572, filed on December 29, 2016, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

[0002] In a heat engine or heat pump, a heat exchanger may be employed to transfer heat between a thermal storage material and a working fluid for use with turbomachinery. The heat engine may be reversible, e.g., it may also be a heat pump, and the working fluid and heat exchanger may be used to transfer heat or cold to a plurality of thermal stores. The thermal energy within a given system may be stored in various forms and in a variety of containers, including pressure vessels and/or insulated vessels.

SUMMARY

[0003] A closed thermodynamic cycle system or energy storage system, such as a reversible Brayton cycle system, may include at least a working fluid circulated through a closed cycle fluid path including at least two heat exchangers, a turbine, and a compressor. The closed cycle fluid path may include a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg. At least two temperature reservoirs may each hold a thermal storage medium which may be pumped through the heat exchangers, providing and/or extracting thermal energy from the working fluid. A motor/generator may be used to obtain work from the thermal energy in the system, preferably by generating electricity from mechanical energy received from the turbine.

[0004] The system may further include a second compressor coupled to the low pressure leg and configured to, upon demand, compress environmental air and inject the compressed environmental air into the low pressure leg. Beneficially, injecting the compressed environmental air into the low pressure leg may be used to control power of the system.

[0005] Example methods may include in a closed cycle system operating in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg; in response to a demand for increased power generation, compressing and dehumidifying environmental air; and injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg. [0006] Example methods may include in a closed cycle system in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg, and wherein the closed cycle system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through the cold side heat exchanger with a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium; in response to a demand for decreased power generation, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path through an expansion valve, thereby cooling the expelled working fluid; and thermally contacting the expelled working fluid with a portion of the CTS medium.

[0007] Example systems may include a first compressor; a hot side heat exchanger; a turbine; a cold side heat exchanger; a working fluid circulating in a closed cycle fluid path through, in sequence, the first compressor, the hot side heat exchanger, the turbine, and the cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg; and a second compressor coupled to the low pressure leg and configured to, upon demand, compress environmental air and inject the compressed environmental air into the low pressure leg.

[0008] Example systems may include a first compressor; a hot side heat exchanger; a turbine; a cold side heat exchanger; a working fluid circulating in a closed cycle fluid path through, in sequence, the first compressor, the hot side heat exchanger, the turbine, and the cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg; a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium, wherein the system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through cold side heat exchanger with the CTS medium; an expansion valve configured to expel working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path; and an auxiliary heat exchanger configured to thermally contact the expelled working fluid with at least a portion of the CTS medium.

[0009] Example non-transitiory computer readable media may include stored therein instructions executable by a computing device to cause the computing device to perform functions, the functions include in a closed cycle system operating in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg; in response to a demand for increased power generation, compressing and dehumidifying environmental air; and injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg. [0010] Example non-transitiory computer readable media may include stored therein instructions executable by a computing device to cause the computing device to perform functions, the functions include in a closed cycle system in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg, and wherein the closed cycle system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through the cold side heat exchanger with a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium; in response to a demand for decreased power generation, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path through an expansion valve, thereby cooling the expelled working fluid; and thermally contacting the expelled working fluid with a portion of the CTS medium.

[0011] Example systems may include in a closed cycle system operating in a power generation mode, means for circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg; means for in response to a demand for increased power generation, compressing and dehumidifying environmental air; and means for injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg.

[0012] Example systems may include in a closed cycle system in a power generation mode, means for circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg, and wherein the closed cycle system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through the cold side heat exchanger with a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium; means for in response to a demand for decreased power generation, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path through an expansion valve, thereby cooling the expelled working fluid; and means for thermally contacting the expelled working fluid with a portion of the CTS medium.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1 schematically illustrates operation of a pumped thermal electric storage system.

[0014] FIG. 2 is a schematic flow diagram of working fluid and heat storage media of a pumped thermal system in a charge/heat pump mode.

[0015] FIG. 3 is a schematic flow diagram of working fluid and heat storage media of a pumped thermal system in a discharge/heat engine mode. [0016] FIG. 4 is a schematic pressure and temperature diagram of the working fluid as it undergoes the charge cycle in FIG. 2.

[0017] FIG. 5 is a schematic pressure and temperature diagram of the working fluid as it undergoes the discharge cycle in FIG. 3.

[0018] FIG. 6 is a schematic perspective view of a closed working fluid system in the pumped thermal system in FIGs. 2-3.

[0019] FIG. 7 is a schematic perspective view of the pumped thermal system in FIGs. 2-3 with hot side and cold side storage tanks and a closed cycle working fluid system.

[0020] FIG. 8 shows a heat storage charge cycle for a water/molten salt system with r\ c = 0.9 and ψ = 0.95. The dashed lines correspond = r]t = 1.

[0021] FIG. 9 shows a heat storage discharge (extraction) cycle for the water/molten salt system in FIG. 8 with r\ c = 0.9 and ψ = 0.95. The dashed lines correspond to ψ = ψ = 1.

[0022] FIG. 10 shows a heat storage cycle in a pumped thermal system with variable compression ratios between the charge and discharge cycles.

[0023] FIG. 11 shows roundtrip efficiency contours for a water/salt system. The symbols 0 and ® represent an approximate range of present large turbomachinery adiabatic efficiency values. The dashed arrows represent the direction of increasing efficiency.

[0024] FIG. 12 shows roundtrip efficiency contours for a colder storage/salt system. The symbols 0 and ® represent an approximate range of present large turbomachinery adiabatic efficiency values.

[0025] FIG. 13 is a schematic flow diagram of working fluid and heat storage media of a pumped thermal system with a gas-gas heat exchanger for the working fluid in a charge/heat pump mode.

[0026] FIG. 14 is a schematic flow diagram of working fluid and heat storage media of a pumped thermal system with a gas-gas heat exchanger for the working fluid in a discharge/heat engine mode.

[0027] FIG. 15 is a schematic flow diagram of working fluid and heat storage media of a pumped thermal system with a gas-gas heat exchanger for the working fluid in a charge/heat pump mode with indirect heat rejection to the environment.

[0028] FIG. 16 is a schematic flow diagram of working fluid and heat storage media of a pumped thermal system with a gas-gas heat exchanger for the working fluid in a discharge/heat engine mode with indirect heat rejection to the environment. [0029] FIG. 17 shows a heat storage charge cycle for a storage system with a gas-gas heat exchanger, a cold side storage medium capable of going down to temperatures significantly below ambient temperature and η ε = 0.9 and ψ= 0.95.

[0030] FIG. 18 shows a heat storage discharge cycle for a storage system with a gas-gas heat exchanger, a cold side storage medium capable of going down to temperatures significantly below ambient temperature and η ε = 0.9 and = 0.95.

[0031] FIG. 19 is a schematic flow diagram of hot side recharging in a pumped heat cycle in solar mode with heating of a solar salt solely by solar power.

[0032] FIG. 20 is a schematic flow diagram of a pumped thermal system discharge cycle with heat rejection to ambient.

[0033] FIG. 21 is a schematic flow diagram of a pumped thermal system discharge cycle with heat rejection to an intermediate fluid circulated in a thermal bath at ambient temperature.

[0034] FIGs. 22 and 23 are pumped thermal systems with separate compressor/turbine pairs for charge and discharge modes.

[0035] FIGs. 24 and 25 show pumped thermal systems configured in a combustion heat input generation mode.

[0036] FIG. 26 is a schematic flow diagram of hot side recharging in a pumped heat cycle through heating by a combustion heat source or a waste heat source.

[0037] FIG. 27 shows an example of a pumped thermal system with pressure regulated power control.

[0038] FIG. 28 shows an example of a pumped thermal system with a pressure encased generator.

[0039] FIG. 29 is an example of variable stators in a compressor/turbine pair.

[0040] FIG. 30 shows a computer system that is programmed to implement various methods and/or regulate various systems of the present disclosure.

[0041] FIG. 31 illustrates an inventory control system, according to an example embodiment.

[0042] FIG. 32 illustrates an inventory control method, according to an example embodiment.

[0043] FIG. 33 illustrates an inventory control method, according to an example embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0044] While various embodiments of the invention have been shown and described herein, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that such embodiments are provided by way of example only. Numerous variations, changes, and substitutions may occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. It should be understood that various altematives to the embodiments of the invention described herein may be employed. It shall be understood that different aspects of the invention can be appreciated individually, collectively, or in combination with each other.

[0045] It is to be understood that the terminology used herein is used for the purpose of describing specific embodiments, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention. It should be noted that as used herein, the singular forms of "a", "an" and "the" include plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. In addition, unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs.

[0046] While preferable embodiments of the present invention are shown and described herein, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that such embodiments are provided by way of example only. Numerous variations, changes, and substitutions will now occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. It should be understood that various alternatives to the embodiments of the invention described herein may be employed in practicing the invention. It is intended that the following claims define the scope of the invention and that methods and structures within the scope of these claims and their equivalents be covered thereby.

[0047] The term "reversible," as used herein, generally refers to a process or operation that can be reversed via infinitesimal changes in some property of the process or operation without substantial entropy production (e.g., dissipation of energy). A reversible process may be approximated by a process that is at thermodynamic equilibrium. In some examples, in a reversible process, the direction of flow of energy is reversible. As an alternative, or in addition to, the general direction of operation of a reversible process (e.g., the direction of fluid flow) can be reversed, such as, e.g., from clockwise to counterclockwise, and vice versa.

[0048] The term "sequence," as used herein, generally refers to elements (e.g., unit operations) in order. Such order can refer to process order, such as, for example, the order in which a fluid flows from one element to another. In an example, a compressor, heat storage unit and turbine in sequence includes the compressor upstream of the heat exchange unit, and the heat exchange unit upstream of the turbine. In such a case, a fluid can flow from the compressor to the heat exchange unit and from the heat exchange unit to the turbine. A fluid flowing through unit operations in sequence can flow through the unit operations sequentially. A sequence of elements can include one or more intervening elements. For example, a system comprising a compressor, heat storage unit and turbine in sequence can include an auxiliary tank between the compressor and the heat storage unit. A sequence of elements can be cyclical. I. Overview

[0049] An example heat engine in which inventory control systems may be implemented is a closed cycle system, e.g., a closed Brayton cycle system. A Brayton cycle system may use a generator/motor connected to a turbine and a compressor which act on a working fluid circulating in the system. Examples of working fluids include air, argon, carbon dioxide, or gaseous mixtures. A Brayton cycle system may have a hot side and/or a cold side. Each side may include a heat exchanger coupled to one or more cold storage containers and/or one or more hot storage containers. Preferably, the heat exchangers may be arranged as counterflow heat exchangers for higher thermal efficiency. Liquid thermal storage medium be utilized and may include, for example, liquids that are stable at high temperatures, such as molten nitrate salt or solar salt, or liquids that are stable at low temperatures, such as glycols or alkanes such as hexane. For an example molten salt and hexane system, the hot side molten salt may include a hot storage at approximately 565°C and a cold storage at approximately 290°C and the cold side hexane may include a hot storage at approximately 35°C and a cold storage at approximately -60°C.

[0050] In a closed cycle system, e.g., a closed Brayton cycle system, the working fluid may circulate through a closed cycle fluid path and the closed cycle fluid path may include a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg. It may be desirable to vary the fluid mass (e.g., the quantity of working fluid), that circulates through the closed cycle fluid path. In some embodiments, varying the mass flow rate of the working fluid in the closed cycle fluid path may vary the amount of power generated by the system.

[0051] An example embodiment of inventory control in a closed cycle system may involve, in response to a demand for increased power generation, compressing and dehumidifying environmental air and injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg. Beneficially, injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg may be used to quickly increase power output of the system.

[0052] In some implementations, the system may include a second compressor and a dehumidifier each coupled to the low pressure leg. The second compressor may, upon demand, compress the environmental air and inject the compressed environmental air into the low pressure leg. Further, the dehumidifier may dehumidify the environmental air prior to injection.

[0053] Another example embodiment of inventory control in a closed cycle system may involve extracting working fluid from the high pressure leg of the closed cycle fluid path, storing the extracted working fluid in a working fluid storage tank, and injecting the extracted working fluid from the working fluid storage tank into the low pressure leg simultaneously with injecting compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg. Beneficially, injecting the extracted working fluid from the working fluid storage tank into the low pressure leg simultaneously with injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg may quickly increase mass added to the closed cycle fluid path.

[0054] Another example embodiment of inventory control in a closed cycle system may involve, in response to a demand for decreased power generation, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path through an expansion valve. Beneficially, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path may be used to decrease power output of the system. Additionally, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path may chill the expelled working fluid. The chilled fluid may then be thermally contacted to a portion of a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium, providing a thermodynamic benefit.

II. Illustrative Reversible Heat Engine

A. Pumped thermal systems

[0055] The disclosure provides pumped thermal systems capable of storing electrical energy and/or heat, and releasing energy (e.g., producing electricity) at a later time. The pumped thermal systems of the disclosure may include a heat engine, and a heat pump (or refrigerator). In some cases, the heat engine can be operated in reverse as a heat pump. In some cases, the heat engine can be operated in reverse as a refrigerator. Any description of heat pump/heat engine systems or refrigerator/heat engine systems capable of reverse operation herein may also be applied to systems comprising separate and/or a combination of separate and reverse- operable heat engine system(s), heat pump system(s) and/or refrigerator system(s). Further, as heat pumps and refrigerators share the same operating principles (albeit with differing objectives), any description of configurations or operation of heat pumps herein may also be applied to configurations or operation of refrigerators, and vice versa.

[0056] Systems of the present disclosure can operate as heat engines or heat pumps (or refrigerators). In some situations, systems of the disclosure can alternately operate as heat engines and heat pumps. In some examples, a system can operate as a heat engine to generate power, and subsequently operate as a heat pump to store energy, or vice versa. Such systems can alternately and sequentially operate as heat engines as heat pumps. In some cases, such systems reversibly or substantially reversibly operate as heat engines as heat pumps. [0057] Reference will now be made to the figures, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout. It will be appreciated that the figures and features therein are not necessarily drawn to scale.

[0058] FIG. 1 schematically illustrates operating principles of pumped thermal electric storage using a heat pump/heat engine electricity storage system. Electricity may be stored in the form of thermal energy of two materials or media at different temperatures (e.g., thermal energy reservoirs comprising heat storage fluids or thermal storage media) by using a combined heat pump/heat engine system. In a charging or heat pump mode, work may be consumed by the system for transferring heat from a cold material or medium to a hot material or medium, thus lowering the temperature (e.g., sensible energy) of the cold material and increasing the temperature (i.e., sensible energy) of the hot material. In a discharging or heat engine mode, work may be produced by the system by transferring heat from the hot material to the cold material, thus lowering the temperature (i.e., sensible energy) of the hot material and increasing the temperature (i.e., sensible energy) of the cold material. The system may be configured to ensure that the work produced by the system on discharge is a favorable fraction of the energy consumed on charge. The system may be configured to achieve high roundtrip efficiency, defined herein as the work produced by the system on discharge divided by the work consumed by the system on charge. Further, the system may be configured to achieve the high roundtrip efficiency using components of a desired (e.g., acceptably low) cost. Arrows H and W in FIG. 1 represent directions of heat flow and work, respectively.

[0059] Heat engines, heat pumps and refrigerators of the disclosure may involve a working fluid to and from which heat is transferred while undergoing a thermodynamic cycle. The heat engines, heat pumps and refrigerators of the disclosure may operate in a closed cycle. Closed cycles allow, for example, a broader selection of working fluids, operation at elevated cold side pressures, operation at lower cold side temperatures, improved efficiency, and reduced risk of turbine damage. One or more aspects of the disclosure described in relation to systems having working fluids undergoing closed cycles may also be applied to systems having working fluids undergoing open cycles.

[0060] In one example, the heat engines may operate on a Brayton cycle and the heat pumps/refrigerators may operate on a reverse Brayton cycle (also known as a gas refrigeration cycle). Other examples of thermodynamic cycles that the working fluid may undergo or approximate include the Rankine cycle, the ideal vapor-compression refrigeration cycle, the Stirling cycle, the Ericsson cycle or any other cycle advantageously employed in concert with heat exchange with heat storage fluids of the disclosure. [0061] The working fluid can undergo a thermodynamic cycle operating at one, two or more pressure levels. For example, the working fluid may operate in a closed cycle between a low pressure limit on a cold side of the system and a high pressure limit on a hot side of the system. In some implementations, a low pressure limit of about 10 atmospheres (atm) or greater can be used. In some instances, the low pressure limit may be at least about 1 atm, at least about 2 atm, at least about 5 atm, at least about 10 atm, at least about 15 atm, at least about 20 atm, at least about 30 atm, at least about 40 atm, at least about 60 atm, at least about 80 atm, at least about 100 atm, at least about 120 atm, at least about 160 atm, or at least about 200 atm, 500 atm, 1000 atm, or more. In some instances, a sub-atmospheric low pressure limit may be used. For example, the low pressure limit may be less than about 0.1 atm, less than about 0.2 atm, less than about 0.5 atm, or less than about 1 atm. In some instances, the low pressure limit may be about 1 atmosphere (atm). In the case of a working fluid operating in an open cycle, the low pressure limit may be about 1 atm or equal to ambient pressure.

[0062] In some cases, the value of the low pressure limit may be selected based on desired power output and/or power input requirements of the thermodynamic cycle. For example, a pumped thermal system with a low pressure limit of about 10 atm may be able to provide a power output comparable to an industrial gas turbine with ambient (1 atm) air intake. The value of the low pressure limit may also be subject to cost safety tradeoffs. Further, the value of the low pressure limit may be limited by the value of the high pressure limit, the operating ranges of the hot side and cold side heat storage media (e.g., pressure and temperature ranges over which the heat storage media are stable), pressure ratios and operating conditions (e.g., operating limits, optimal operating conditions, pressure drop) achievable by turbomachinery and/or other system components, or any combination thereof. The high pressure limit may be determined in accordance with these system constraints. In some instances, higher values of the high pressure limit may lead to improved heat transfer between the working fluid and the hot side storage medium.

[0063] Working fluids used in pumped thermal systems may include air, argon, other noble gases, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, oxygen, or any combination thereof, and/or other fluids in gaseous, liquid, critical, or supercritical state (e.g., supercritical CC ). The working fluid can be a gas or a low viscosity liquid (e.g., viscosity below about 500xl0 "6 Poise at 1 atm), satisfying the requirement that the flow be continual. In some implementations, a gas with a high specific heat ratio may be used to achieve higher cycle efficiency than a gas with a low specific heat ratio. For example, argon (e.g., specific heat ratio of about 1.66) may be used to substitute air (e.g., specific heat ratio of about 1.4). In some cases, the working fluid may be a blend of one, two, three or more fluids. In one example, helium (having a high thermal conductivity and a high specific heat) may be added to the working fluid (e.g., argon) to improve heat transfer rates in heat exchangers.

[0064] Pumped thermal systems herein may utilize heat storage media or materials, such as one or more heat storage fluids. The heat storage media can be gases or low viscosity liquids, satisfying the requirement that the flow be continual. The systems may utilize a first heat storage medium on a hot side of the system ("hot side thermal storage (HTS) medium" or "HTS" herein) and a second heat storage medium on a cold side of the system ("cold side thermal storage (CTS) medium" or "CTS" herein). The thermal storage media (e.g., low viscosity liquids) can have high heat capacities per unit volume (e.g., heat capacities above about 1400 Joule (kilogram Kelvin) "1 ) and high thermal conductivities (e.g., thermal conductivities above about 0.7 Watt (meter Kelvin) "1 ). In some implementations, several different thermal storage media (also "heat storage media" herein) on either the hot side, cold side or both the hot side and the cold side may be used.

[0065] The operating temperatures of the hot side thermal storage medium can be in the liquid range of the hot side thermal storage medium, and the operating temperatures of the cold side thermal storage medium can be in the liquid range of the cold side thermal storage medium. In some examples, liquids may enable a more rapid exchange of large amounts of heat by convective counter-flow than solids or gases. Thus, in some cases, liquid HTS and CTS media may advantageously be used. Pumped thermal systems utilizing thermal storage media herein may advantageously provide a safe, non-toxic and geography -independent energy (e.g., electricity) storage alternative.

[0066] In some implementations, the hot side thermal storage medium can be a molten salt or a mixture of molten salts. Any salt or salt mixture that is liquid over the operating temperature range of the hot side thermal storage medium may be employed. Molten salts can provide numerous advantages as thermal energy storage media, such as low vapor pressure, lack of toxicity, chemical stability, low chemical reactivity with typical steels (e.g., melting point below the creep temperature of steels, low corrosiveness, low capacity to dissolve iron and nickel), and low cost. In one example, the HTS is a mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate. In some examples, the HTS is a eutectic mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate. In some examples, the HTS is a mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate having a lowered melting point than the individual constituents, an increased boiling point than the individual constituents, or a combination thereof. Other examples include potassium nitrate, calcium nitrate, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, lithium nitrate, mineral oil, or any combination thereof. Further examples include any gaseous (including compressed gases), liquid or solid media (e.g., powdered solids) having suitable (e.g., high) thermal storage capacities and/or capable of achieving suitable (e.g., high) heat transfer rates with the working fluid. For example, a mix of 60% sodium nitrate and 40% potassium nitrate (also referred to as a solar salt in some situations) can have a heat capacity of approximately 1500 Joule (Kelvin mole) "1 and a thermal conductivity of approximately 0.75 Watt (meter Kelvin) "1 within a temperature range of interest. The hot side thermal storage medium may be operated in a temperature range that structural steels can handle.

[0067] In some cases, liquid water at temperatures of about 0°C to 100°C (about 273 K-373 K) and a pressure of about 1 atm may be used as the cold side thermal storage medium. Due to a possible explosion hazard associated with presence of steam at or near the boiling point of water, the operating temperature can be kept below about 100°C or less while maintaining an operating pressure of 1 atm (i.e., no pressurization). In some cases, the temperature operating range of the cold side thermal storage medium may be extended (e.g., to -30°C to 100°C at 1 atm) by using a mixture of water and one or more antifreeze compounds (e.g., ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, or glycerol).

[0068] As described in greater detail elsewhere herein, improved storage efficiency may be achieved by increasing the temperature difference at which the system operates, for example, by using a cold side heat storage fluid capable of operating at lower temperatures. In some examples, the cold side thermal storage media may comprise hydrocarbons, such as, for example, alkanes (e.g., hexane or heptane), alkenes, alkynes, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids (e.g., HCOOH), ethers, cycloalkanes, aromatic hydrocarbons, alcohols (e.g., butanol), other type(s) of hydrocarbon molecules, or any combinations thereof. In some cases, the cold side thermal storage medium can be hexane (e.g., n-hexane). Hexane has a wide liquid range and can remain fluid (i.e., runny) over its entire liquid range (-94 °C to 68°C at 1 atm). Hexane's low temperature properties are aided by its immiscibility with water. Other liquids, such as, for example, ethanol or methanol can become viscous at the low temperature ends of their liquid ranges due to pre-crystallization of water absorbed from air. In some cases, the cold side thermal storage medium can be heptane (e.g., n-heptane). Heptane has a wide liquid range and can remain fluid (i.e., runny) over its entire liquid range (-91 °C to 98°C at 1 atm). Heptane's low temperature properties are aided by its immiscibility with water. At even lower temperatures, other heat storage media can be used, such as, for example, isohexane (2- methylpentane). In some examples, cryogenic liquids having boiling points below about - 150°C (123 K) or about -180 °C (93.15 K) may be used as cold side thermal storage media (e.g., propane, butane, pentane, nitrogen, helium, neon, argon and krypton, air, hydrogen, methane, or liquefied natural gas). In some implementations, choice of cold side thermal storage medium may be limited by the choice of working fluid. For example, when a gaseous working fluid is used, a liquid cold side thermal storage medium having a liquid temperature range at least partially or substantially above the boiling point of the working fluid may be required.

[0069] In some cases, the operating temperature range of CTS and/or HTS media can be changed by pressurizing (i.e., raising the pressure) or evacuating (i.e., lowering the pressure) the tanks and thus changing the temperature at which the storage media undergo phase transitions (e.g., going from liquid to solid, or from liquid to gas).

[0070] In some cases, the hot side and the cold side heat storage fluids of the pumped thermal systems are in a liquid state over at least a portion of the operating temperature range of the energy storage device. The hot side heat storage fluid may be liquid within a given range of temperatures. Similarly, the cold side heat storage fluid may be liquid within a given range of temperatures. The heat storage fluids may be heated, cooled or maintained to achieve a suitable operating temperature prior to, during or after operation.

[0071] Pumped thermal systems of the disclosure may cycle between charged and discharged modes. In some examples, the pumped thermal systems can be fully charged, partially charged or partially discharged, or fully discharged. In some cases, cold side heat storage may be charged (also "recharged" herein) independently from hot side heat storage. Further, in some implementations, charging (or some portion thereof) and discharging (or some portion thereof) can occur simultaneously. For example, a first portion of a hot side heat storage may be recharged while a second portion of the hot side heat storage together with a cold side heat storage are being discharged.

[0072] The pumped thermal systems may be capable of storing energy for a given amount of time. In some cases, a given amount of energy may be stored for at least about 1 second, at least about 30 seconds, at least about 1 minute, at least about 5 minutes, at least about 30 minutes, at least about 1 hour, at least about 2 hours, at least about 3 hours, at least about 4 hours, at least about 5 hours, at least about 6 hours, at least about 7 hours, at least about 8 hours, at least about 9 hours, at least about 10 hours, at least about 12 hours at least about 14 hours, at least about 16 hours, at least about 18 hours, at least about 20 hours, at least about 22 hours, at least about 24 hours (1 day), at least about 2 days, at least about 4 days, at least about 6 days, at least about 8 days, at least about 10 days, 20 days, 30 days, 60 days, 100 days, 1 year or more. [0073] Pumped thermal systems of the disclosure may be capable of storing/receiving input of, and/or extracting/providing output of a substantially large amount of energy and/or power for use with power generation systems (e.g., intermittent power generation systems such as wind power or solar power), power distribution systems (e.g. electrical grid), and/or other loads or uses in grid-scale or stand-alone settings. During a charge mode of a pumped thermal system, electric power received from an external power source (e.g., a wind power system, a solar photovoltaic power system, an electrical grid etc.) can be used operate the pumped thermal system in a heat pump mode (i.e., transferring heat from a low temperature reservoir to a high temperature reservoir, thus storing energy). During a discharge mode of the pumped thermal system, the system can supply electric power to an external power system or load (e.g., one or more electrical grids connected to one or more loads, a load, such as a factory or a power- intensive process, etc.) by operating in a heat engine mode (i.e., transferring heat from a high temperature reservoir to a low temperature reservoir, thus extracting energy). As described elsewhere herein, during charge and/or discharge, the system may receive or rej ect thermal power, including, but not limited to electromagnetic power (e.g., solar radiation) and thermal power (e.g., sensible energy from a medium heated by solar radiation, heat of combustion etc.).

[0074] In some implementations, the pumped thermal systems are grid-synchronous. Synchronization can be achieved by matching speed and frequency of motors/generators and/or turbomachinery of a system with the frequency of one or more grid networks with which the system exchanges power. For example, a compressor and a turbine can rotate at a given, fixed speed (e.g., 3600 revolutions per minute (rpm)) that is a multiple of grid frequency (e.g., 60 hertz (Hz)). In some cases, such a configuration may eliminate the need for additional power electronics. In some implementations, the turbomachinery and/or the motors/generators are not grid synchronous. In such cases, frequency matching can be accomplished through the use of power electronics. In some implementations, the turbomachinery and/or the motors/generators are not directly grid synchronous but can be matched through the use of gears and/or a mechanical gearbox. As described in greater detail elsewhere herein, the pumped thermal systems may also be rampable. Such capabilities may enable these grid-scale energy storage systems to operate as peaking power plants and/or as a load following power plants. In some cases, the systems of the disclosure may be capable of operating as base load power plants.

[0075] Pumped thermal systems can have a given power capacity. In some cases, power capacity during charge may differ from power capacity during discharge. For example, each system can have a charge and/or discharge power capacity of less than about 1 megawatt (MW), at least about 1 megawatt, at least about 2 MW, at least about 3 MW, at least about 4 MW, at least about 5 MW, at least about 6 MW, at least about 7 MW, at least about 8 MW, at least about 9 MW, at least about 10 MW, at least about 20 MW, at least about 30 MW, at least about 40 MW, at least about 50 MW, at least about 75 MW, at least about 100 MW, at least about 200 MW, at least about 500 MW, at least about 1 gigawatt (GW), at least about 2 GW, at least about 5 GW, at least about 10 GW, at least about 20 GW, at least about 30 GW, at least about 40 GW, at least about 50 GW, at least about 75 GW, at least about 100 GW, or more.

[0076] Pumped thermal systems can have a given energy storage capacity. In one example, a pumped thermal system is configured as a 100 MW unit operating for 10 hours. In another example, a pumped thermal system is configured as a 1 GW plant operating for 12 hours. In some instances, the energy storage capacity can be less than about 1 megawatt hour (MWh), at least about 1 megawatt hour, at least about 10 MWh, at least about 100 MWh, at least about 1 gigawatt hour (GWh), at least about 5 GWh, at least about 10 GWh, at least about 20 GWh, at least 50 GWh, at least about 100 GWh, at least about 200 GWh, at least about 500 GWh, at least about 700 GWh, at least about 1000 GWh, or more.

[0077] In some cases, a given power capacity may be achieved with a given size, configuration and/or operating conditions of the heat engine/heat pump cycle. For example, size of turbomachinery, ducts, heat exchangers, or other system components may correspond to a given power capacity.

[0078] In some implementations, a given energy storage capacity may be achieved with a given size and/or number of hot side thermal storage tanks and/or cold side thermal storage tanks. For example, the heat engine/heat pump cycle can operate at a given power capacity for a given amount of time set by the heat storage capacity of the system or plant. The number and/or heat storage capacity of the hot side thermal storage tanks may be different from the number and/or heat storage capacity of the cold side thermal storage tanks. The number of tanks may depend on the size of individual tanks. The size of hot side storage tanks may differ from the size of cold side thermal storage tanks. In some cases, the hot side thermal storage tanks, the hot side heat exchanger and the hot side thermal storage medium may be referred to as a hot side heat (thermal) storage unit. In some cases, the cold side thermal storage tanks, the cold side heat exchanger and the cold side thermal storage medium may be referred to as a cold side heat (thermal) storage unit.

[0079] A pumped thermal storage facility can include any suitable number of hot side storage tanks, such as at least about 2, at least about 4, at least about 10, at least about 50, at least about 100, at least about 500, at least about 1,000, at least about 5,000, at least about 10,000, and the like. In some examples, a pumped thermal storage facility includes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1,000 or more hot side tanks.

[0080] A pumped thermal storage facility can also include any suitable number of cold side storage tanks, such as at least about 2, at least about 4, at least about 10, at least about 50, at least about 100, at least about 500, at least about 1,000, at least about 5,000, at least about 10,000, and the like. In some examples, a pumped thermal storage facility includes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1,000 or more cold side tanks.

B. Pumped thermal storage cycles

[0081] An aspect of the disclosure relates to pumped thermal systems operating on pumped thermal storage cycles. In some examples, the cycles allow electricity to be stored as heat (e.g., in the form of a temperature differential) and then converted back to electricity through the use of at least two pieces of turbomachinery , a compressor and a turbine. The compressor consumes work and raises the temperature and pressure of a working fluid (WF). The turbine produces work and lowers the temperature and pressure of the working fluid. In some examples, more than one compressor and more than one turbine is used. In some cases, the system can include at least 1, at least 2, at least 3, at least 4, or at least 5 compressors. In some cases, the system can include at least 1, at least 2, at least 3, at least 4, or at least 5 turbines. The compressors may be arranged in series or in parallel. The turbines may be arranged in series or in parallel.

[0082] FIGs. 2 and 3 are schematic flow diagrams of working fluid and heat storage media of an exemplary pumped thermal system in a charge/heat pump mode and in a discharge/heat engine mode, respectively. The system may be idealized for simplicity of explanation so that there are no losses (i.e., entropy generation) in either the turbomachinery or heat exchangers. The system can include a working fluid 20 (e.g., argon gas) flowing in a closed cycle between a compressor 1, a hot side heat exchanger 2, a turbine 3 and a cold side heat exchanger 4. Fluid flow paths/directions for the working fluid 20 (e.g., a gas), a hot side thermal storage (HTS) medium 21 (e.g., a low viscosity liquid) and a cold side thermal storage (CTS) medium 22 (e.g., a low viscosity liquid) are indicated by arrows.

[0083] FIGs. 4 and 5 are schematic pressure and temperature diagrams of the working fluid 20 as it undergoes the charge cycles in FIGs. 2 and 3, respectively, once again simplified in the approximation of no entropy generation. Normalized pressure is shown on the y-axes and temperature is shown on the x-axes. The direction of processes taking place during the cycles is indicated with arrows, and the individual processes taking place in the compressor 1, the hot side CFX 2, the turbine 3 and the cold side CFX 4 are indicated on the diagram with their respective numerals.

[0084] The heat exchangers 2 and 4 can be configured as counter-flow heat exchangers (CFXs), where the working fluid flows in one direction and the substance it is exchanging heat with is flowing in the opposite direction. In an ideal counter-flow heat exchanger with correctly matched flows (i.e., balanced capacities or capacity flow rates), the temperatures of the working fluid and thermal storage medium flip (i.e., the counter-flow heat exchanger can have unity effectiveness).

[0085] The counter-flow heat exchangers 2 and 4 can be designed and/or operated to reduce entropy generation in the heat exchangers to negligible levels compared to entropy generation associated with other system components and/or processes (e.g., compressor and/or turbine entropy generation). In some cases, the system may be operated such that entropy generation in the system is minimized. For example, the system may be operated such that entropy generation associated with heat storage units is minimized. In some cases, a temperature difference between fluid elements exchanging heat can be controlled during operation such that entropy generation in hot side and cold side heat storage units is minimized. In some instances, the entropy generated in the hot side and cold side heat storage units is negligible when compared to the entropy generated by the compressor, the turbine, or both the compressor and the turbine. In some instances, entropy generation associated with heat transfer in the heat exchangers 2 and 4 and/or entropy generation associated with operation of the hot side storage unit, the cold side storage unit or both the hot side and cold side storage units can be less than about 50%, less than about 25%, less than about 20%, less than about 15%, less than about 10%, less than about 5%, less than about 4%, less than about 3%, less than about 2%, or less than about 1% of the total entropy generated within the system (e.g., entropy generated by the compressor 1, the hot side heat exchanger 2, the turbine 3, the cold side heat exchanger 4 and/or other components described herein, such as, for example, a recuperator). For example, entropy generation can be reduced or minimized if the two substances exchanging heat do so at a local temperature differential ΔΤ→ 0 (i.e., when the temperature difference between any two fluid elements that are in close thermal contact in the heat exchanger is small). In some examples, the temperature differential ΔΤ between any two fluid elements that are in close thermal contact may be less than about 300 Kelvin (K), less than about 200 K , less than about 100 K, less than about 75 K, less than about 50 K, less than about 40 K, less than about 30 K, less than about 20 K, less than about 10 K, less than about 5 K, less than about 3 K, less than about 2 K, or less than about 1 K. In another example, entropy generation associated with pressure drop can be reduced or minimized by suitable design. In some examples, the heat exchange process can take place at a constant or near-constant pressure. Alternatively, a non-negligible pressure drop may be experienced by the working fluid and/or one or more thermal storage media during passage through a heat exchanger. Pressure drop in heat exchangers may be controlled (e.g., reduced or minimized) through suitable heat exchanger design. In some examples, the pressure drop across each heat exchanger may be less than about 20% of inlet pressure, less than about 10% of inlet pressure, less than about 5% of inlet pressure, less than about 3% of inlet pressure, less than about 2% of inlet pressure, less than about 1% of inlet pressure, less than about 0.5% of inlet pressure, less than about 0.25% of inlet pressure, or less than about 0.1% of inlet pressure.

[0086] Upon entering the heat exchanger 2, the temperature of the working fluid can either increase (taking heat from the HTS medium 21, corresponding to the discharge mode in FIGs. 3 and 5) or decrease (giving heat to the HTS medium 21, corresponding to the charge mode in FIGs. 2 and 4), depending on the temperature of the HTS medium in the heat exchanger relative the temperature of the working fluid. Similarly, upon entering the heat exchanger 4, the temperature of the working fluid can either increase (taking heat from the CTS medium 22, corresponding to the charge mode in FIGs. 2 and 4) or decrease (giving heat to the CTS medium 22, corresponding to the discharge mode in FIGs. 3 and 5), depending on the temperature of the CTS medium in the heat exchanger relative the temperature of the working fluid.

[0087] As described in more detail with reference to the charge mode in FIGs. 2 and 4, the heat addition process in the cold side CFX 4 can take place over a different range of temperatures than the heat removal process in the hot side CFX 2. Similarly, in the discharge mode in FIGs. 3 and 5, the heat rejection process in the cold side CFX 4 can take place over a different range of temperatures than the heat addition process in the hot side CFX 2. At least a portion of the temperature ranges of the hot side and cold side heat exchange processes may overlap during charge, during discharge, or during both charge and discharge.

[0088] As used herein, the temperatures To, Ti, To + and Ti + are so named because To + , Ti + are the temperatures achieved at the exit of a compressor with a given compression ratio r, adiabatic efficiency r\ c and inlet temperatures of To, Ti respectively. The examples in FIGs. 2, 3, 4 and 5 can be idealized examples where η = 1 and where adiabatic efficiency of the turbine r] t also has the value η ί = 1.

[0089] With reference to the charge mode shown in FIGs. 2 and 4, the working fluid 20 can enter the compressor 1 at position 30 at a pressure P and a temperature T (e.g., at Ti, P 2 ). As the working fluid passes through the compressor, work Wi is consumed by the compressor to increase the pressure and temperature of the working fluid (e.g., to Ti + , Pi), as indicated by P† and T† at position 31. In the charge mode, the temperature Ti + of the working fluid exiting the compressor and entering the hot side CFX 2 at position 31 is higher than the temperature of the HTS medium 21 entering the hot side CFX 2 at position 32 from a second hot side thermal storage tank 7 at a temperature To + (i.e., To + < Ti + ). As these two fluids pass in thermal contact with each other in the heat exchanger, the working fluid's temperature decreases as it moves from position 31 position 34, giving off heat Qi to the HTS medium, while the temperature of the HTS medium in turn increases as it moves from position 32 to position 33, absorbing heat Qi from the working fluid. In an example, the working fluid exits the hot side CFX 2 at position 34 at the temperature To + and the HTS medium exits the hot side CFX 2 at position 33 into a first hot side thermal storage tank 6 at the temperature Ti + . The heat exchange process can take place at a constant or near-constant pressure such that the working fluid exits the hot side CFX 2 at position 34 at a lower temperature but same pressure Pi, as indicated by P and T j at position 34. Similarly, the temperature of the HTS medium 21 increases in the hot side CFX 2, while its pressure can remain constant or near-constant.

[0090] Upon exiting the hot side CFX 2 at position 34 (e.g., at To + , Pi), the working fluid 20 undergoes expansion in the turbine 3 before exiting the turbine at position 35. During the expansion, the pressure and temperature of the working fluid decrease (e.g., to To, P2), as indicated by Pj and Tj at position 35. The magnitude of work W2 generated by the turbine depends on the enthalpy of the working fluid entering the turbine and the degree of expansion. In the charge mode, heat is removed from the working fluid between positions 31 and 34 (in the hot side CFX 2) and the working fluid is expanded back to the pressure at which it initially entered the compressor at position 30 (e.g., P2). The compression ratio (e.g., P1/P2) in the compressor 1 being equal to the expansion ratio in the turbine 3, and the enthalpy of the gas entering the turbine being lower than the enthalpy of the gas exiting the compressor, the work W2 generated by the turbine 3 is smaller than the work Wi consumed by the compressor 1 (i.e.,

[0091] Because heat was taken out of the working fluid in the hot side CFX 2, the temperature To at which the working fluid exits the turbine at position 35 is lower than the temperature Ti at which the working fluid initially entered the compressor at position 30. To close the cycle (i.e., to return the pressure and temperature of the working fluid to their initial values Ti, P2 at position 30), heat Q2 is added to the working fluid from the CTS medium 22 in the cold side CFX 4 between positions 35 and 30 (i.e., between the turbine 3 and the compressor 1). In an example, the CTS medium 22 enters the cold side CFX 4 at position 36 from a first cold side thermal storage tank 8 at the temperature Ti and exits the cold side CFX 4 at position 37 into a second cold side thermal storage tank 9 at the temperature To, while the working fluid 20 enters the cold side CFX 4 at position 35 at the temperature To and exits the cold side CFX 4 at position 30 at the temperature Ti. Again, the heat exchange process can take place at a constant or near-constant pressure such that the working fluid exits the cold side CFX 2 at position 30 at a higher temperature but same pressure P2, as indicated by P and T† at position 30. Similarly, the temperature of the CTS medium 22 decreases in the cold side CFX 2, while its pressure can remain constant or near-constant.

[0092] During charge, the heat Q2 is removed from the CTS medium and the heat Qi is added to the HTS medium, wherein Qi > Q2. A net amount of work Wi - W2 is consumed, since the work Wi used by the compressor is greater than the work W2 generated by the turbine. A device that consumes work while moving heat from a cold body or thermal storage medium to a hot body or thermal storage medium is a heat pump; thus, the pumped thermal system in the charge mode operates as a heat pump.

[0093] In an example, the discharge mode shown in FIGs. 3 and 5 can differ from the charge mode shown in FIGs. 2 and 4 in the temperatures of the thermal storage media being introduced into the heat exchangers. The temperature at which the HTS medium enters the hot side CFX 2 at position 32 is Ti + instead of To + , and the temperature of the CTS medium entering the cold side CFX 4 at position 36 is To instead of Ti. During discharge, the working fluid enters the compressor at position 30 at To and P 2 , exits the compressor at position 31 at To + < Ti + and Pi, absorbs heat from the HTS medium in the hot side CFX 2, enters the turbine 3 at position 34 at Ti + and Pi, exits the turbine at position 35 at Ti > To and P 2 , and finally rejects heat to the CTS medium in the cold side CFX 4, returning to its initial state at position 30 at To and P 2 .

[0094] The HTS medium at temperature Ti + can be stored in a first hot side thermal storage tank 6, the HTS medium at temperature To + can be stored in a second hot side thermal storage tank 7, the CTS medium at temperature Ti can be stored in a first cold side thermal storage tank 8, and the CTS medium at temperature To can be stored in a second cold side thermal storage tank 9 during both charge and discharge modes. In one implementation, the inlet temperature of the HTS medium at position 32 can be switched between Ti + and To + by switching between tanks 6 and 7, respectively. Similarly, the inlet temperature of the CTS medium at position 36 can be switched between Ti and To by switching between tanks 8 and 9, respectively. Switching between tanks can be achieved by including a valve or a system of valves (e.g., valve systems 12 and 13 in FIG. 7) for switching connections between the hot side heat exchanger 2 and the hot side tanks 6 and 7, and/or between the cold side heat exchanger 4 and the cold side tanks 8 and 9 as needed for the charge and discharge modes. In some implementations, connections may be switched on the working fluid side instead, while the connections of storage tanks 6, 7, 8 and 9 to the heat exchangers 2 and 4 remain static. In some examples, flow paths and connections to the heat exchangers may depend on the design (e.g., shell-and-tube) of each heat exchanger. In some implementations, one or more valves can be used to switch the direction of both the working fluid and the heat storage medium through the counter-flow heat exchanger on charge and discharge. Such configurations may be used, for example, due to high thermal storage capacities of the heat exchanger component, to decrease or eliminate temperature transients, or a combination thereof. In some implementations, one or more valves can be used to switch the direction of only the working fluid, while the direction of the HTS or CTS can be changed by changing the direction of pumping, thereby maintaining the counter-flow configuration. In some implementations, different valve configurations may be used for the HTS and the CTS. Further, any combination of the valve configurations herein may be used. For example, the system may be configured to operate using different valve configurations in different situations (e.g., depending on system operating conditions).

[0095] In the discharge mode shown in FIGs. 3 and 5, the working fluid 20 can enter the compressor 1 at position 30 at a pressure P and a temperature T (e.g., at To, P2). As the working fluid passes through the compressor, work Wi is consumed by the compressor to increase the pressure and temperature of the working fluid (e.g., to To + , Pi), as indicated by P† and T† at position 31. In the discharge mode, the temperature To + of the working fluid exiting the compressor and entering the hot side CFX 2 at position 31 is lower than the temperature of the HTS medium 21 entering the hot side CFX 2 at position 32 from a first hot side thermal storage tank 6 at a temperature Ti + (i.e., To + < Ti + ). As these two fluids pass in thermal contact with each other in the heat exchanger, the working fluid's temperature increases as it moves from position 31 position 34, absorbing heat Qi from the HTS medium, while the temperature of the HTS medium in turn decreases as it moves from position 32 to position 33, giving off heat Qi to the working fluid. In an example, the working fluid exits the hot side CFX 2 at position 34 at the temperature Ti + and the HTS medium exits the hot side CFX 2 at position 33 into the second hot side thermal storage tank 7 at the temperature To + . The heat exchange process can take place at a constant or near-constant pressure such that the working fluid exits the hot side CFX 2 at position 34 at a higher temperature but same pressure Pi, as indicated by P and T† at position 34. Similarly, the temperature of the HTS medium 21 decreases in the hot side CFX 2, while its pressure can remain constant or near-constant. [0096] Upon exiting the hot side CFX 2 at position 34 (e.g., at Ti + , Pi), the working fluid 20 undergoes expansion in the turbine 3 before exiting the turbine at position 35. During the expansion, the pressure and temperature of the working fluid decrease (e.g., to Ti, P2), as indicated by Pj and Tj at position 35. The magnitude of work W2 generated by the turbine depends on the enthalpy of the working fluid entering the turbine and the degree of expansion. In the discharge mode, heat is added to the working fluid between positions 31 and 34 (in the hot side CFX 2) and the working fluid is expanded back to the pressure at which it initially entered the compressor at position 30 (e.g., P2). The compression ratio (e.g., P1/P2) in the compressor 1 being equal to the expansion ratio in the turbine 3, and the enthalpy of the gas entering the turbine being higher than the enthalpy of the gas exiting the compressor, the work W2 generated by the turbine 3 is greater than the work Wi consumed by the compressor 1 (i.e.,

[0097] Because heat was added to the working fluid in the hot side CFX 2, the temperature Ti at which the working fluid exits the turbine at position 35 is higher than the temperature To at which the working fluid initially entered the compressor at position 30. To close the cycle (i.e., to return the pressure and temperature of the working fluid to their initial values To, P2 at position 30), heat Q2 is rejected by the working fluid to the CTS medium 22 in the cold side CFX 4 between positions 35 and 30 (i.e., between the turbine 3 and the compressor 1). The CTS medium 22 enters the cold side CFX 4 at position 36 from a second cold side thermal storage tank 9 at the temperature To and exits the cold side CFX 4 at position 37 into a first cold side thermal storage tank 8 at the temperature Ti, while the working fluid 20 enters the cold side CFX 4 at position 35 at the temperature Ti and exits the cold side CFX 4 at position 30 at the temperature To. Again, the heat exchange process can take place at a constant or near- constant pressure such that the working fluid exits the cold side CFX 2 at position 30 at a higher temperature but same pressure P2, as indicated by P and Tj at position 30. Similarly, the temperature of the CTS medium 22 increases in the cold side CFX 2, while its pressure can remain constant or near-constant.

[0098] During discharge, the heat Q2 is added to the CTS medium and the heat Qi is removed from the HTS medium, wherein Qi > Q2. A net amount of work W2 - Wi is generated, since the work Wi used by the compressor is smaller than the work W2 generated by the turbine. A device that generates work while moving heat from a hot body or thermal storage medium to a cold body or thermal storage medium is a heat engine; thus, the pumped thermal system in the discharge mode operates as a heat engine. [0099] FIG. 6 is a simplified schematic perspective view of a closed working fluid system in the pumped thermal system in FIGs. 2-3. As indicated, the working fluid 20 (contained inside tubing) circulates clockwise between the compressor 1, the hot side heat exchanger 2, the turbine 3, and the cold side heat exchanger 4. The compressor 1 and the turbine 3 can be ganged on a common mechanical shaft 10 such that they rotate together. In some implementations, the compressor 1 and the turbine 3 can have separate mechanical shafts. A motor/generator 11 (e.g., including a synchronous motor - synchronous generator converter on a single common shaft) provides power to and from the turbomachinery. In this example, the compressor, the turbine and the motor/generator are all located on a common shaft. Pipes at positions 32 and 33 transfer hot side thermal storage fluid to and from the hot side heat exchanger 2, respectively. Pipes at positions 36 and 37 transfer cold side thermal storage fluid to and from the cold side heat exchanger 4, respectively.

[0100] Although the system of FIG. 6 is illustrated as comprising a compressor 1 and turbine 3, the system can include one or more compressors and one or more turbines, which may operate, for example, in a parallel configuration, or alternatively in a series configuration or in a combination of parallel and series configurations. In some examples, a system of compressors or turbines may be assembled such that a given compression ratio is achieved. In some cases, different compression ratios (e.g., on charge and discharge) can be used (e.g., by connecting or disconnecting, in a parallel and/or series configuration, one or more compressors or turbines from the system of compressors or turbines). In some examples, the working fluid is directed to a plurality of compressors and/or a plurality of turbines. In some examples, the compressor and/or turbine may have temperature dependent compression ratios. Arrangement and/or operation of the turbomachinery and/or other elements of the system may be adjusted in accordance with the temperature dependence (e.g., to optimize performance).

[0101] FIG. 7 is a simplified schematic perspective view of the pumped thermal system in FIGs. 2-3 with hot side and cold side storage tanks and a closed cycle working fluid system. In this example, the HTS medium is a molten salt and the CTS medium is a low temperature liquid. One, two or more first hot side tanks 6 (at the temperature Ti + ) and one, two or more second hot side tanks 7 (at the temperature To + ), both for holding the HTS medium, are in fluid communication with a valve 13 configured to transfer the HTS medium to and from the hot side heat exchanger 2. One, two or more first cold side tanks 8 (at the temperature Ti) and one, two or more second cold side tanks 9 (at the temperature To), both for holding the CTS medium, are in fluid communication with a valve 12 configured to transfer the CTS medium to and from the cold side heat exchanger 4. [0102] The thermal energy reservoirs or storage tanks may be thermally insulated tanks that can hold a suitable quantity of the relevant thermal storage medium (e.g., heat storage fluid). The storage tanks may allow for relatively compact storage of large amounts of thermal energy. In an example, the hot side tanks 6 and/or 7 can have a diameter of about 80 meters, while the cold side tanks 8 and/or 9 can have a diameter of about 60 meters. In another example, the size of each (i.e., hot side or cold side) thermal storage for a 1 GW plant operating for 12 hours can be about 20 medium-sized oil refinery tanks.

[0103] In some implementations, a third set of tanks containing storage media at intermediate temperatures between the other tanks may be included on the hot side and/or the cold side. In an example, a third storage or transfer tank (or set of tanks) at a temperature intermediate to the temperatures of a first tank (or set of tanks) and a second tank (or set of tanks) may be provided. A set of valves may be provided for switching the storage media between the different tanks and heat exchangers. For example, thermal media may be directed to different sets of tanks after exiting the heat exchangers depending on operating conditions and/or cycle being used. In some implementations, one or more additional sets of storage tanks at different temperatures may be added on the hot side and/or the cold side.

[0104] The storage tanks (e.g., hot side tanks comprising hot side thermal storage medium and/or cold side tanks comprising cold side thermal storage medium) may operate at ambient pressure. In some implementations, thermal energy storage at ambient pressure can provide safety benefits. Alternatively, the storage tanks may operate at elevated pressures, such as, for example, at a pressure of at least about 2 atm, at least about 5 atm, at least about 10 atm, at least about 20 atm, or more. Alternatively, the storage tanks may operate at reduced pressures, such as, for example, at a pressure of at most about 0.9 atm, at most about 0.7 atm, at most about 0.5 atm, at most about 0.3 atm, at most about 0.1 atm, at most about 0.01 atm, at most about 0.001 atm, or less. In some cases (e.g., when operating at higher/elevated or lower pressures or to avoid contamination of the thermal storage media), the storage tanks can be sealed from the surrounding atmosphere. Alternatively, in some cases, the storage tanks may not be sealed. In some implementations, the tanks may include one or more pressure regulation or relief systems (e.g., a valve for safety or system optimization).

[0105] As used herein, the first hot side tank(s) 6 (at the temperature Ti + ) can contain HTS medium at a higher temperature than the second hot side tank(s) 7 (at the temperature To + ), and the first cold side tank(s) 8 (at the temperature Ti) can contain CTS medium at a higher temperature than the second cold side tank(s) 9 (at the temperature To). During charge, HTS medium in the first (higher temperature) hot side tank(s) 6 and/or CTS medium in the second (lower temperature) cold side tank(s) 9 can be replenished. During discharge, HTS medium in the first (higher temperature) hot side tank(s) 6 and/or CTS medium in the second (lower temperature) cold side tank(s) 9 can be consumed.

[0106] In the foregoing examples, in either mode of operation, two of the four storage tanks 6, 7, 8 and 9 are feeding thermal storage medium to the heat exchangers 2 and 4 at the inlets 32 and 36, respectively, and the other two tanks are receiving thermal storage medium from the heat exchangers 2 and 4 from the exits 33 and 37, respectively. In this configuration, the feed tanks can contain a storage medium at a given temperature due to prior operating conditions, while the receiving tanks' temperatures can depend on current system operation (e.g., operating parameters, loads and/or power input). The receiving tank temperatures may be set by the Brayton cycle conditions. In some cases, the receiving tank temperatures may deviate from desired values due to deviations from predetermined cycle conditions (e.g., variation of absolute pressure in response to system demand) and/or due to entropy generation within the system. In some cases (e.g., due to entropy generation), at least one of the four tank temperatures can be higher than desired. In some implementations, a radiator can be used to reject or dissipate this waste heat to the environment. In some cases, heat rejection to the environment may be enhanced (e.g., using evaporative cooling etc.). The waste heat generated during operation of the pumped thermal systems herein can also be utilized for other purposes. For example, waste heat from one part of the system may be used elsewhere in the system. In another example, waste heat may be provided to an external process or system, such as, for example, a manufacturing process requiring low grade heat, commercial or residential heating, thermal desalination, commercial drying operations etc.

[0107] Components of pumped thermal systems of the disclosure may exhibit non-ideal performance, leading to losses and/or inefficiencies. The major losses in the system may occur due to inefficiencies of the turbomachinery (e.g., compressor and turbine) and the heat exchangers. The losses due to the heat exchangers may be small compared to the losses due to the turbomachinery. In some implementations, the losses due to the heat exchangers can be reduced to near zero with suitable design and expense. Therefore, in some analytical examples, losses due to the heat exchangers and other possible small losses due to pumps, the motor/generator and/or other factors may be neglected.

[0108] Losses due to turbomachinery can be quantified in terms of adiabatic efficiencies r\ c and ψ (also known as isentropic efficiencies) for compressors and turbines, respectively. For large turbomachinery, typical values may range between = 0.9 - 0.95 for turbines. The actual amount of work produced or consumed by a cycle can then be expressed as AW = w£ t - W^ al = - ^ W^, where, in an example

'lc

assuming constant specific heats of the working fluid, = c p T inlet (-ip— 1), W ia °^ =

III

c p T inlet ( — where ψ = r Y , r is the compression ratio (i.e., ratio of the higher pressure to the lower pressure), and γ = c P /c v is the ratio of specific heats of the working fluid. Due to compressor and turbine inefficiencies, more work is required to achieve a given compression ratio during compression, and less work is generated during expansion for a given compression ratio. Losses can also be quantified in terms of the polytropic, or single stage, efficiencies, η ορ and ψ Ρ , for compressors and turbines, respectively. The polytropic efficiencies are related to the adiabatic efficiencies and ? iby the equations η α = ^ /Vcp 1 and η ί = 1 '■

[0109] In examples where r\ c = ψ = 1, pumped thermal cycles of the disclosure can follow identical paths in both charge and discharge cycles (e.g., as shown in FIGs. 4 and 5). In examples where < 1 and/or ψ < 1, compression in the compressor can lead to a greater temperature increase than in the ideal case for the same compression ratio, and expansion in the turbine can lead to a smaller temperature decrease than in the ideal case.

[0110] In some implementations, the polytropic efficiency of the compressor η ερ may be at least about 0.3, at least about 0.5, at least about 0.6, at least about 0.7, at least about 0.75, at least about 0.8, at least about 0.85, at least about 0.9, at least about 0.91, at least about 0.92, at least about 0.93, at least about 0.96, or more. In some implementations, the polytropic efficiency of the compressor η ίρ may be at least about 0.3, at least about 0.5, at least about 0.6, at least about 0.7, at least about 0.75, at least about 0.8, at least about 0.85, at least about 0.9, at least about 0.91, at least about 0.92, at least about 0.93, at least about 0.96, at least about 0.97 or more.

[0111] To + , Ti + were previously defined as the temperatures achieved at the exit of a compressor with a given compression ratio r, adiabatic efficiency r\ c and inlet temperatures of

T +

To, Ti respectively. In some examples, these four temperatures are related by the equation— =

To

[0112] FIG. 8 shows an exemplary heat storage charge cycle for a water (CTS)/molten salt (HTS) system with = 0.9 and ψ = 0.95. The dashed lines correspond to = ψ = 1 and the solid lines show the charge cycle with = 0.95 and r\ c = 0.9. In this example, the CTS medium on the cold side is water, and the HTS medium on the hot side is molten salt. In some cases, the system can include 4 heat storage tanks. In the charge cycle, the working fluid at To and P2 can exchange heat with a CTS medium in the cold side heat exchanger 4, whereby its temperature can increase to Ti (assuming negligible pressure drop, its pressure can remain P 2 ).

In the compressor 1 with r\ c = 0.9, the temperature and pressure of the working fluid can increase from Ti, P2 to Ti + , Pi. The working fluid can then exchange heat with an HTS medium in the hot side heat exchanger 2, such that its temperature can decrease (at constant pressure

Pi, assuming negligible pressure drop). If the working fluid enters the turbine 3 with ψ = 0.95 at the temperature 0 + and expands back to its original pressure P 2 , its temperature when exiting the turbine may not be To. Instead, the working fluid may enter the turbine at a temperature f 0 + and exit the turbine at the temperature To and pressure P 2 . In some examples, the temperatures

+

are related by the relation— = ψ^ν. In some examples, 0 + is the temperature at which the

To

working fluid enters the inlet of a turbine with adiabatic efficiency η ί and compression ratio r in order to exit at the temperature To.

[0113] In some implementations, the temperature f 0 + may be incorporated into charge cycles of the disclosure by first heat exchanging the working fluid with the HTS medium from to TO 1" , followed by further cooling the working fluid from Γ 0 + to f 0 + , as illustrated by section 38 of the cycle in FIG. 8.

[0114] FIG. 9 shows an exemplary heat storage discharge (extraction) cycle for the water/molten salt system in FIG. 8 with η ε = 0.9 and ψ = 0.95. The dashed lines correspond to = 0.9. In the discharge cycle, the working fluid at Ti and P2 can exchange heat with a CTS medium in the cold side heat exchanger 4, whereby its temperature can decrease to To (assuming negligible pressure drop, its pressure can remain P2). In the compressor 1 with = 0.9, the temperature and pressure of the working fluid can increase from To, P2 to To + , Pi. The working fluid can then exchange heat with an HTS medium in the hot side heat exchanger 2, such that its temperature can increase (at constant pressure Pi, assuming negligible pressure drop). Working fluid entering the turbine 3 at may not exit the turbine at the temperature Ti as in the charge cycle, but may instead exit at a temperature 1; where, in some examples, f 1 = T^ p ~V t P . In some examples, f 1 is the temperature at which the working fluid exits the outlet of a turbine with adiabatic efficiency r\ t and compression ratio r after entering the inlet of the turbine at the temperature T^.

[0115] In some implementations, the temperature f 1 may be incorporated into the discharge cycles of the disclosure by first cooling the working fluid exiting the turbine at f 1 to Ti, as illustrated by section 39 of the cycle in FIG. 9, followed by heat exchanging the working fluid with the CTS medium from Ti to To.

[0116] The charge and discharge cycles may be closed by additional heat rejection operations in sections 38 (between T 0 + and f 0 + ) and 39 (between T t and Ti), respectively. In some cases, closing the cycles through heat rejection in sections of the cycles where the working fluid can reject heat to ambient at low cost may eliminate the need for additional heat input into the system. The sections of the cycles where the working fluid can reject heat to ambient may be limited to sections where the temperature of the working fluid is high enough above ambient temperature for ambient cooling to be feasible. In some examples, heat may be rejected to the environment in sections 38 and/or 39. For example, heat may be rejected using one or more working fluid to air radiators, intermediate water cooling, or a number of other methods. In some cases, heat rejected in sections 38 and/or 39 may be used for another useful purpose, such as, for example, cogeneration, thermal desalination and/or other examples described herein.

[0117] In some implementations, the cycles may be closed by varying the compression ratios between the charge and discharge cycles, as shown, for example, in FIG. 10. The ability to vary compression ratio on charge and discharge may be implemented, for example, by varying the rotation speed of the compressor and/or turbine, by variable stator pressure control, by bypassing a subset of the compression or expansion stages on charge or discharge by the use of valves, or by using dedicated compressor/turbine pairs for charge and discharge mode. In one example, the compression ratio in the discharge cycle in FIG. 9 can be changed such that heat rejection in section is 39 is not used, and only heat rejection in section 38 in the charge cycle is used. Varying the compression ratio may allow heat (i.e., entropy) to be rejected at a lower temperature, thereby increasing overall roundtrip efficiency. In some examples of this configuration, the compression ratio on charge, rc, can be set such that— = xp c cp , and on discharge, the compression ratio ro can be set such that — = φ^ Ιφ . In some cases, the upper temperatures and Ti can be identical on charge and discharge and no heat removal may be needed in this portion (also "leg" herein) of the cycle. In such cases, the temperature To + on charge (e.g., Γ 0 + ^ = Γ 0 ι/^ ρ ) and the temperature To + on discharge (e.g., = Τ 0 ψ^ η ° ρ ) can be dissimilar and heat may be rejected (also "dissipated" or "dumped" herein) to the environment between the temperatures Γ 0 + ^ and T^ d In an implementation where only the storage media exchange heat with the environment, a heat rejection device (e.g., devices 55 and 56 shown in FIG. 16) can be used to lower the temperature of the CTS from to between discharge and charge.

[0118] FIG. 10 shows an example of a cycle with variable compression ratios. The compression ratio can be higher on discharge (when work is produced by the system) than on charge (when work is consumed by the system), which may increase an overall round trip

+(c) efficiency of the system. For example, during a charge cycle 80 with T 0 , a lower compression ratio of < 3 can be used; during a discharge cycle 81 with a compression ratio of > 3 can be used. The upper temperatures reached in both cycles 80 and 81 can be T t and Ti , and no excess heat may be rejected.

[0119] The compression ratio may be varied between charge and discharge such that the heat dissipation to the environment needed for closing the cycle on both charge and discharge occurs

+(c)

between the temperatures T 0 (the temperature of the working fluid before it enters the turbine during the charge cycle) and r o + ^ D ^(the temperature of the working fluid as it exits the compressor on discharge) and not above the temperature Ti (the temperature of the working fluid before it enters the compressor on charge and/or exits the turbine on discharge). In some examples, none of the heat is rejected at a temperature above the lowest temperature of the HTS medium.

[0120] In the absence of system losses and/or inefficiencies, such as, for example, in the case of pumped thermal systems comprising heat pump(s) and heat engine(s) operating at the zero entropy creation/isentropic limit, a given amount of heat QH can be transferred using a given quantity of work W in heat pump (charge) mode, and the same QH can be used in heat engine (discharge) mode to produce the same work W, leading to a unity (i.e., 100%) roundtrip efficiency. In the presence of system losses and/or inefficiencies, roundtrip efficiencies of pumped thermal systems may be limited by how much the components deviate from ideal performance.

[0121] The roundtrip efficiency of a pumped thermal system may be defined as t] store = \ W c e v xtract \ I \ W c c ^ ar3e \ . In some examples, with an approximation of ideal heat exchange, the roundtrip efficiency can be derived by considering the net work output during the discharge cycle, \ W c xtract \ = Vt^ eai mt ^ me net work input during the charge cycle,

Vc

^c arge | _ w ldeal _ ^^jout^ us j n g me equations for work and temperature given above.

Vc [0122] Roundtrip efficiencies may be calculated for different configurations of pumped thermal systems (e.g., for different classes of thermal storage media) based on turbomachinery component efficiencies,

[0123] In one example, FIG. 11 shows roundtrip efficiency contours for a water/salt system, such as, for example, the water/salt system in FIGs. 8 and 9 with To = 273 K (0°C), Ti = 373 K (100°C) and a compression ratio of r = 5.65 chosen to achieve compatibility with the salt(s) on the hot side. Exemplary roundtrip efficiency contours at values of t] store oi 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% and 90% are shown as a function of component efficiencies r\ c and ψ on the x- and y-axes, respectively. The symbols 0 and (g) represent the approximate range of present large turbomachinery adiabatic efficiency values. The dashed arrows represent the direction of increasing efficiency.

[0124] FIG. 12 shows roundtrip efficiency contours for a colder storage/salt system, such as, for example a hexane/salt system with a gas-gas heat exchanger in FIGs. 13, 14, 17 and l8 with To = 194 K (-79°C), Ti = 494 K (221°C) and a compression ratio of r = 3.28. Exemplary roundtrip efficiency contours at values of ?7 store of 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% and 90% are shown as a function of component efficiencies r\ c and ψ on the x- and y-axes, respectively. The symbols 0 and (g) represent the approximate range of present large turbomachinery adiabatic efficiency values. As discussed in detail elsewhere herein, using hexane, heptane and/or another CTS medium capable of low temperature operation may result in significant improvements of system efficiency.

C. Pumped thermal storage cycles with recuperation

[0125] Another aspect of the disclosure is directed to pumped thermal systems with recuperation. In some situations, the terms regeneration and recuperation can be used interchangeably, although they may have different meanings. As used herein, the terms "recuperation" and "recuperator" generally refer to the presence of one or more additional heat exchangers where the working fluid exchanges heat with itself during different segments of a thermodynamic cycle through continuous heat exchange without intermediate thermal storage. The roundtrip efficiency of pumped thermal systems may be substantially improved if the allowable temperature ranges of the storage materials can be extended. In some implementations, this may be accomplished by choosing a material or medium on the cold side that can go to temperatures below 273 K (0°C). For example, a CTS medium (e.g., hexane) with a low temperature limit of approximately To = 179 K (-94°C) may be used in a system with a molten salt HTS medium. However, Γ 0 + (i.e., the lowest temperature of the working fluid in the hot side heat exchanger) at some (e.g., modest) compression ratios may be below the freezing point of the molten salt, making the molten salt unviable as the HTS medium. In some implementations, this can be resolved by including a working fluid to working fluid (e.g., gas-gas) heat exchanger (also "recuperator" herein) in the cycle.

[0126] FIG. 13 is a schematic flow diagram of working fluid and heat storage media of a pumped thermal system in a charge/heat pump mode with a gas-gas heat exchanger 5 for the working fluid. The use of the gas-gas heat exchanger can enable use of colder heat storage medium on the cold side of the system. The working fluid can be air. The working fluid can be dry air. The working fluid can be nitrogen. The working fluid can be argon. The working fluid can be a mixture of primarily argon mixed with another gas such as helium. For example, the working fluid may comprise at least about 50% argon, at least about 60% argon, at least about 70% argon, at least about 80% argon, at least about 90% argon, or about 100% argon, with balance helium.

[0127] FIG. 17 shows a heat storage charge cycle for the storage system in FIG. 13 with a cold side storage medium (e.g., liquid hexane) capable of going down to approximately to 179 K (- 94°C) and a molten salt as the hot side storage, and r\ c = 0.9 and ψ = 0.95. The CTS medium can be hexane or heptane and the HTS medium can be molten salt. In some cases, the system can include four heat storage tanks.

[0128] In one implementation, during charge in FIGs. 13 and 17, the working fluid enters the compressor at Ti and P 2 , exits the compressor at Ti + and Pi, rejects heat Qi to the HTS medium 21 in the hot side CFX 2, exiting the hot side CFX 2 at Ti and Pi, rejects heat Qrecup (also "Qregen" herein, as shown, for example, in the accompanying drawings) to the cold (low pressure) side working fluid in the heat exchanger or recuperator 5, exits the recuperator 5 at To + and Pi, rejects heat to the environment (or other heat sink) in section 38 (e.g., a radiator), enters the turbine 3 at 0 + and Pi, exits the turbine at To and P2, absorbs heat Q2 from the CTS medium 22 in the cold side CFX 4, exiting the cold side CFX 4 at To + and P2, absorbs heat Qrecup from the hot (high pressure) side working fluid in the heat exchanger or recuperator 5, and finally exits the recuperator 5 at Ti and P2, returning to its initial state before entering the compressor.

[0129] FIG. 14 is a schematic flow diagram of working fluid and heat storage media of the pumped thermal system in FIG. 13 in a discharge/heat engine mode. Again, the use of the gas- gas heat exchanger can enable use of colder heat storage fluid (CTS) and/or colder working fluid on the cold side of the system. [0130] FIG. 18 shows a heat storage discharge cycle for the storage system for the storage system in FIG. 14 with a cold side storage medium (e.g., liquid hexane) capable of going down to 179 K (-94°C) and a molten salt as the hot side storage, and 0.95. Again, the CTS medium can be hexane or heptane and the HTS medium can be molten salt, and the system may include 4 heat storage tanks.

[0131] During discharge in FIGs. 14 and 18, the working fluid enters the compressor at To and P 2 , exits the compressor at To + and Pi, absorbs heat Qrecu from the cold (low pressure) side working fluid in the heat exchanger or recuperator 5, exits the recuperator 5 at Ti and Pi, absorbs heat Qi from the HTS medium 21 in the hot side CFX 2, exiting the hot side CFX 2 at Ti + and Pi, enters the turbine 3 at Ti + and Pi, exits the turbine at T T and P 2 , rejects heat to the environment (or other heat sink) in section 39 (e.g., a radiator), rejects heat Qrecup to the hot (high pressure) side working fluid in the heat exchanger or recuperator 5, enters the cold side CFX 4 at To + and P 2 , rejects heat Q2 to the CTS medium 22 in the cold side CFX 4, and finally exits the cold side CFX 4 at To and P2, returning to its initial state before entering the compressor.

[0132] In another implementation, shown in FIG. 15, the charge cycle remains the same as in FIGs. 13 and 17, except that the working fluid exits the recuperator 5 at f 0 + and Pi (instead of at To + and Pi as in FIGs. 13 and 17), enters the turbine 3 at f 0 + and Pi, exits the turbine at To and P 2 , absorbs heat Q2 from the CTS medium 22 having a temperature f 0 + (instead of at To + as in FIGs. 13 and 17) in the cold side CFX 4, and exits the cold side CFX 4 at f 0 + and P2 (instead of at To + and P2 as in FIG. 13) before reentering the recuperator 5. The heat between temperatures T Q and f 0 + is no longer rejected from the working fluid to the environment directly (as in section 38 in FIGs. 13 and 17).

[0133] During discharge in FIG. 16, the discharge cycle remains the same as in FIGs. 14 and 8B, except that the temperature of the HTS medium being deposited in tank 7 is changed. The working fluid exits the recuperator 5 at f 1 and Pi (instead of at Ti and Pi as in FIGs. 14 and 8B) and absorbs heat Qi from the HTS medium 21 in the hot side CFX 2. The HTS medium exits the hot side CFX 2 having a temperature T T (instead of at Ti as in FIGs. 14 and 18). The working fluid then exits the hot side CFX 2 at Ti + and Pi, enters the turbine 3 at Ti + and Pi, and exits the turbine at T T and P2 before reentering the recuperator 5. The heat between temperatures T T and T T is no longer rejected from the working fluid to the environment directly (as in section 39 in FIGs. 14 and 18). As in FIG. 14, the CTS medium enters the tank 8 at temperature To + . [0134] After the discharge in FIG. 16, in preparation for the charge in FIG. 15, heat exchange with ambient may be used to cool the HTS medium 21 from the temperature T t used in the discharge cycle to the temperature Ti used in the charge cycle. Similarly, heat exchange with ambient may be used to cool the CTS medium 22 from the temperature To + used in the discharge cycle to the temperature f 0 + used in the charge cycle. Unlike in the configuration in FIGs. 13 and 14, where the working fluid may need to reject a substantial amount of heat (in sections 38 and 39, respectively) at a fast rate, in this configuration, the hot side and cold side storage media may be cooled at an arbitrarily slow rate (e.g., by radiating away or by other means of giving off the heat to the environment).

[0135] As shown in FIG. 16, in some implementations, heat can be rejected from the CTS medium to the environment by circulating the CTS medium in the tank 8 in a heat rejection device 55 that can absorb heat from the CTS medium and reject heat to the environment until the CTS medium cools from the temperature 0 + to the temperature f 0 + . In some examples, the heat rejection device 55 can be, for example, a radiator, a thermal bath containing a substance such as water or salt water, or a device immersed in a natural body of water such as a lake, river or ocean. In some examples, the heat rejection device 55 can also be an air cooling apparatus, or a series of pipes which are thermally connected to a solid reservoir (e.g., pipes embedded in the ground).

[0136] Similarly, in some implementations, heat can be rejected from the HTS medium to the environment by circulating the HTS in the tank 7 in a heat rejection device 56 that can absorb heat from the HTS medium and reject heat to the environment until the HTS medium cools from the temperature T to the temperature Ti. In some examples, the heat rejection device 56 can be, for example, a radiator, a thermal bath containing a substance such as water or salt water, or a device immersed in a natural body of water such as a lake, river or ocean. In some examples, the heat rejection device 56 can also be an air cooling apparatus or a series of pipes which are thermally connected to a solid reservoir (e.g., pipes embedded in the ground).

[0137] In some implementations, rejecting heat to ambient through the use of the thermal storage media may be used in conjunction with the variable compression ratio charge and/or discharge cycles described, for example, in FIG. 10. In this system, only the CTS medium may exchange heat with ambient. Such a system can also be implemented with a recuperator to extend the temperature ranges of the HTS and CTS media in the cycles.

[0138] In some implementations, three separate cold side storage tanks at respective temperatures T 0 , f 0 + and 0 + may be used (e.g., an extra tank may be used in addition to the tanks 8 and 9). During heat exchange in the cold side CFX 4 in the discharge cycle, heat from the working fluid exiting the recuperator 5 may be transferred to the CTS medium in the T 0 + - tank. The CTS medium may be cooled in/by, for example, the heat rejection device 55 prior to entering the f 0 + -tank. In some implementations, three separate hot side storage tanks at respective temperatures Γ 1 ; f 1 and may be used (e.g., an extra tank may be used in addition to the tanks 6 and 7). During heat exchange in the hot side CFX 2 in the discharge cycle, heat from the working fluid exiting the recuperator 5 may be transferred to the HTS medium in the 7^ -tank. The HTS medium may be cooled nVby, for example, the heat rejection device 56 prior to entering the T^-tank. Heat rejection to the environment in such a manner may present several advantages. In a first example, it may eliminate the need for a potentially expensive working fluid to ambient heat exchanger that is capable of absorbing heat from the working fluid at a rate proportional to the power input/output of the system. The HTS and CTS media may instead reject heat over extended time periods, thus reducing the cost of the cooling infrastructure. In a second example, it may allow the decision regarding when heat is rejected to the environment to be delayed such that heat exchange to ambient may be performed when temperature (e.g., the ambient temperature) is most favorable.

[0139] In the charge and discharge cycles of FIGs. 13 and 17, and FIGs. 14 and 18, respectively, the same compression ratios and temperature values are used for both charge and discharge. In this configuration, the roundtrip efficiency can be about = 74%, as given by To = 194 K (-79°C), Ti = 494 K (221°C). ψ = 0.95, = 0.9 and r = 3.3.

[0140] Thus, in some examples involving working fluid to working fluid recuperation, heat rejection on the hot side (high pressure) side of the closed charge cycle can take place in three operations (heat exchange with the HTS medium, followed by recuperation, followed by heat rejection to the environment), and heat rejection on the cold side (low pressure) side of the closed discharge cycle can take place in three operations (heat rejection to the environment, followed by recuperation, followed by heat exchange with the CTS medium). As a result of recuperation, the higher temperature HTS tank(s) 6 can remain at Ti + while the lower temperature HTS tank(s) 7 can now be at the temperature Ti >To + , and the lower temperature CTS tank(s) 9 can remain at To while the higher temperature CTS tank(s) 8 can now be at the temperature To + < Ti.

[0141] In some cases, recuperation may be implemented using the heat exchanger 5 for direct transfer of heat between the working fluid on the high pressure side and the working fluid on the low pressure side. In an altemative configuration, an additional pair (or plurality) of heat exchangers together with an additional heat transfer medium or fluid (e.g., a dedicated thermal heat transfer fluid that is liquid in an appropriate temperature range, such as, for example, Therminol®) may be used to achieve recuperation. For example, an additional heat exchanger may be added in series with the cold side heat exchanger and an additional heat exchanger may be added in series with the hot side heat exchanger. The additional heat transfer medium may circulate between the two additional heat exchangers in a closed loop. In other examples, one or more additional heat exchangers may be placed elsewhere in the system to facilitate recuperation. Further, one or more additional heat transfer media or mixtures thereof may be used. The one or more additional heat transfer media fluids may be in fluid or thermal communication with one or more other components, such as, for example, a cooling tower or a radiator.

[0142] In one example, hexane or heptane can be used as a CTS medium, and nitrate salt can be used as an HTS medium. On the low pressure side of the cycle, the operating temperatures of the pumped thermal storage cycles may be limited by the melting point of hexane (178 K or -95°C) at To and by the melting point of the nitrate (494 K or 221°C) at Ti. On the high pressure side of the cycle, the operating temperatures may be limited by the boiling point of hexane (341 K or 68°C) at To + and by the decomposition of nitrate (873 K or 600°C) at Ti + . At these conditions, the high pressure and low pressure temperature ranges can overlap such that recuperation can be implemented. The actual temperatures To, Ti, To + and Ti + and pressure ratios implemented in hexane/nitrate systems may differ from the limits above.

[0143] In some examples, recuperation may enable the compression ratio to be reduced. In some cases, reducing the compression ratio may result in reduced compressor and turbine losses. In some cases, the compression ratio may be at least about 1.2, at least about 1.5, at least about 2, at least about 2.5, at least about 3, at least about 3.5, at least about 4, at least about 4.5, at least about 5, at least about 6, at least about 8, at least about 10, at least about 15, at least about 20, at least about 30, or more.

[0144] In some cases, T 0 may be at least about 30 K, at least about 50 K, at least about 80 K, at least about 100 K, at least about 120 K, at least about 140 K, at least about 160 K, at least about 180 K, at least about 200 K, at least about 220 K, at least about 240 K, at least about 260 K, or at least about 280 K. In some cases, 0 + may be at least about 220 K, at least about 240 K, at least about 260 K, at least about 280 K, at least about 300 K, at least about 320 K, at least about 340 K, at least about 360 K, at least about 380 K, at least about 400 K, or more. In some cases, the temperatures T 0 and 0 + can be constrained by the ability to reject excess heat to the environment at ambient temperature. In some cases, the temperatures T 0 and 0 + can be constrained by the operating temperatures of the CTS (e.g., a phase transition temperature). In some cases, the temperatures T 0 and 0 + can be constrained by the compression ratio being used. Any description of the temperatures T 0 and/or T Q herein may apply to any system or method of the disclosure.

[0145] In some cases, T 1 may be at least about 350K, at least about 400 K, at least about 440 K, at least about 480 K, at least about 520 K, at least about 560 K, at least about 600 K, at least about 640 K, at least about 680 K, at least about 720 K, at least about 760 K, at least about 800 K, at least about 840 K, at least about 880 K, at least about 920 K, at least about 960 K, at least about 1000 K, at least about 1100 K, at least about 1200 K, at least about 1300 K, at least about 1400 K, or more. In some cases, may be at least about 480 K, at least about 520 K, at least about 560 K, at least about 600 K, at least about 640 K, at least about 680 K, at least about 720 K, at least about 760 K, at least about 800 K, at least about 840 K, at least about 880 K, at least about 920 K, at least about 960 K, at least about 1000 K, at least about 1100 K, at least about 1200 K, at least about 1300 K, at least about 1400 K, at least about 1500 K, at least about 1600 K, at least about 1700 K, or more. In some cases, the temperatures T 1 and can be constrained by the operating temperatures of the HTS. In some cases, the temperatures T 1 and can be constrained by the thermal limits of the metals and materials being used in the system. For example, a conventional solar salt can have a recommended temperature range of approximately 560-840 K. Various system improvements, such as, for example, increased roundtrip efficiency, increased power and increased storage capacity may be realized as available materials, metallurgy and storage materials improve over time and enable different temperature ranges to be achieved. Any description of the temperatures T T and/or herein may apply to any system or method of the disclosure.

[0146] In some cases, the roundtrip efficiency (e.g., electricity storage efficiency) with and/or without recuperation can be at least about 5%, at least about 10%, at least about 15%, at least about 20%, at least about 25%, at least about 30%, at least about 35%, at least about 40%, at least about 45%, at least about 50%, at least about 55%, at least about 60%, at least about 65%, at least about 70%, at least about 75%, at least about 80%, at least about 85%, at least about 90%, or at least about 95%.

[0147] In some implementations, at least a portion of heat transfer in the system (e.g., heat transfer to and from the working fluid) during a charge and/or discharge cycle includes heat transfer with the environment (e.g., heat transfer in sections 38 and 39). The remainder of the heat transfer in the system can occur through thermal communication with thermal storage media (e.g., thermal storage media 21 and 22), through heat transfer in the recuperator 5 and/or through various heat transfer processes within system boundaries (i.e., not with the surrounding environment). In some examples, the environment may refer to gaseous or liquid reservoirs surrounding the system (e.g., air, water), any system or medium capable of exchanging thermal energy with the system (e.g., another thermodynamic cycle or system, heating/cooling systems, etc.), or any combination thereof. In some examples, heat transferred through thermal communication with the heat storage media can be at least about 25%, at least about 50%, at least about 60%, at least about 70%, at least about 80%, or at least about 90% of all heat transferred in the system. In some examples, heat transferred through heat transfer in the recuperator can be at least about 5%, at least about 10%, at least about 15%, at least about 20%, at least about 25%, at least about 50%, or at least about 75% of all heat transferred in the system. In some examples, heat transferred through thermal communication with the heat storage media and through heat transfer in the recuperator can be at least about 25%, at least about 50%, at least about 60%, at least about 70%, at least about 80%, at least about 90%, or even about 100% of all heat transferred in the system. In some examples, heat transferred through heat transfer with the environment can be less than about 5%, less than about 10%, less than about 15%, less than about 20%, less than about 30%, less than about 40%, less than about 50%, less than about 60%, less than about 70%, less than about 80%, less than about 90%, less than about 100%, or even 100% of all heat transferred in the system. In some implementations, all heat transfer in the system may be with the thermal storage media (e.g., the CTS and HTS media), and only the thermal storage media may conduct heat transfer with the environment.

[0148] Pumped thermal cycles of the disclosure (e.g., the cycles in FIGs. 13 and 14) may be implemented through various configurations of pipes and valves for transporting the working fluid between the turbomachinery and the heat exchangers. In some implementations, a valving system may be used such that the different cycles of the system can be interchanged while maintaining the same or nearly the same temperature profile across at least one, across a subset or across all of counter-flow heat exchangers in the system. For example, the valving may be configured such that the working fluid can pass through the heat exchangers in opposite flow directions on charge and discharge and flow directions of the HTS and CTS media are reversed by reversing the direction of the pumps.

[0149] In some implementations, the system with a recuperator may have a different compression and/or expansion ratio on charge and discharge. This may then involve heat rejection at only one or both of the heat rejection locations 38 and 39 as shown in Figure 5C along the lines described above.

[0150] FIG. 19 is a schematic flow diagram of hot side recharging in a pumped heat cycle in solar mode with heating of a solar salt solely by solar power. The system can comprise a solar heater for heating the hot side heat storage. The HTS medium 21 in the second hot thermal storage tank 7 of a discharge cycle, such as, for example, the HTS medium of the discharge cycle in FIG. 14, can be recharged within element 17 using heating provided by solar radiation. The HTS medium (e.g., molten salt) can be heated by solar heating from the temperature Ti in the second hot thermal storage tank 7 to the temperature Ti + in the first hot thermal storage tank 6.

[0151] In some implementations, such as, for example, for the systems in FIGs. 19 solar heat for heating the HTS medium (e.g., from Ti = 493 K (220°C) to Ti + = 873 K (600°C)) may be provided by a concentrating solar facility. In some examples, a small scale concentrating facility may be utilized for providing heat. In some cases, the concentrating solar facility may include one or more components for achieving high solar concentrating efficiency, including, for example, high-performance actuators (e.g., adaptive fluidic actuators manufactured from polymers), mutiplexing control system, dense heliostat layout etc. In some examples, the heat provided for heating the HTS medium (e.g., in the element 17) may be a waste heat stream from the concentrating solar facility.

[0152] FIG. 20 is a schematic flow diagram of a pumped thermal system discharge cycle that can be coupled with external heat input (e.g., solar, combustion) with heat rejection to ambient. Such a discharge cycle may be used, for example, in situations where the capacity for hot side recharging (e.g., using solar heating, waste heat or combustion) is greater than the capacity for cold side recharging. Solar heat may be used to charge the HTS medium 21 in the hot side storage tanks from T 1 to T^ , as described elsewhere herein. The discharge cycle can operate similarly to the discharge cycle in FIG. 3, but after exiting the turbine 3, the working fluid 20 can proceed to the cold side CFX 4 heat exchanger 4 where it exchanges heat with an intermediate thermal storage (ITS) medium 61 having a lower temperature To at or near ambient temperature. The ITS medium 61 enters the cold side CFX 4 from a second intermediate thermal storage tank 59 at the temperature To (e.g., ambient temperature) and exits the cold side CFX 4 into a first intermediate thermal storage tank 60 at the temperature f 1 , while the working fluid 20 enters the cold side CFX 4 at the temperature f 1 and exits the cold side CFX 4 at the temperature To. The working fluid enters the compressor 1 at To and P2, exits the compressor at To + and Pi, absorbs heat Qi from the HTS medium 21 in the hot side CFX 2, exits the hot side CFX 2 at T^and Pi, enters the turbine 3 at and Pi, exits the turbine at f 1 and P 2 , rejects heat Q2 from the ITS medium 61 in the cold side CFX 4, and exits the cold side CFX 4 at To and P 2 , returning to its initial state before entering the compressor.

[0153] In some implementations, the ITS medium 61 may be a liquid over the entire range from T 0 to T t . In other implementations, the ITS medium 61 may not be a liquid over the entire range from T 0 to T t , but may be provided to the counter-flow heat exchanger 4 at a higher flow rate in order to achieve a lower temperature rise across the counter-flow heat exchanger (e.g., such that the temperature of the ITS medium at the exit of the counter-flow heat exchanger 4 is lower than f x ) while still cooling the working fluid from f 1 to T 0 . In this instance, the temperature of the ITS medium in the tank 60 can be lower than f x . The ITS medium in the tank 60 can exchange heat with ambient (e.g., through a radiator or other implementations described herein) in order to cool back to the temperature T 0 . In some cases, the ITS medium can then be returned to the tank 59. In some cases, the heat deposited in the ITS medium may be used for various useful purposes such as, for example, residential or commercial heating, thermal desalination or other uses described elsewhere herein.

[0154] FIG. 21 is a schematic flow diagram of a pumped thermal system discharge cycle in solar mode or combustion heated mode with heat rejection to an intermediate fluid circulated in a thermal bath at ambient temperature. The discharge cycle can operate similarly to the discharge cycle in FIG. 20, but after exiting the turbine 3, the working fluid 20 can proceed to the cold side CFX 4 where it exchanges heat with an intermediate medium or fluid 62 circulating through a thermal bath 63 at the temperature To at or near ambient temperature. The intermediate medium or fluid 62 (e.g., Therminol®, or a heat transfer oil) may be used for exchanging heat between the working fluid 20 and a thermal bath 63 in the cold side CFX 4. The use of the intermediate fluid 62 may provide an advantage over contacting an inexpensive thermal sink or medium (e.g., water) directly with the working fluid. For example, directly contacting such a thermal medium with the working fluid in the cold side CFX 4 may cause problems, such as, for example, evaporation or over-pressurization (e.g., explosion) of the thermal medium. The intermediate fluid 62 can remain in liquid phase throughout all, at least a portion of, or a significant portion of the operation in the cold side CFX 4. As the intermediate fluid 62 passes through the thermal bath 58, it can be sufficiently cooled to circulate back into the cold side CFX 4 for cooling the working fluid from f 1 to T 0 . The thermal bath 63 may contain a large amount of inexpensive heat sink material or medium, such as, for example, water. In some cases, the heat deposited in the heat sink material may be used for various useful purposes such as, for example, residential or commercial heating, thermal desalination or other uses described elsewhere herein. In some cases, the heat sink material may be re-equilibrated with ambient temperature (e.g., through a radiator or other implementations described herein).

[0155] In some implementations, the discharge cycles in FIGs. 20 and/or 21 may include a recuperator, as described in greater detail in examples throughout the disclosure. Such systems may be implemented using the temperatures Ti + , Ti, To + and To described in greater detail elsewhere herein.

D. Solar assisted pumped thermal storage cycles with intercooling

[0156] In some instances, the pumped thermal system may provide heat sources and/or cold sources to other facilities or systems such as, for example, through co-location with a gas to liquids (GTL) facility or a desalination facility. In one example, the GTL facilities may make use of one or more of the cold reservoirs in the system (e.g., the CTS medium in the tank 9 for use in oxygen separation in the GTL facility) and/or one or more hot reservoirs in the system (e.g., the HTS medium in the tank 6 for use in a Fischer-Tropsch process in the GTL facility). In another example, one or more hot reservoirs or one or more cold reservoirs in the pumped thermal system may be used for the operation of thermal desalination methods. Further examples of possible heat and cold uses include co-location or heat exchange with building/area heating and cooling systems.

[0157] Conversely, in some cases, the pumped thermal system may make use of waste heat sources and/or waste cold sources from other facilities or systems such as, for example, through co-location with a liquefied natural gas import or export terminal. For example, a waste cold source may be used for cooling the cold side thermal storage media 22. In some implementations, recharging of the cold side using waste cold may be combined with recharging of the hot side thermal storage media 21 by external heat input (e.g., solar, combustion, waste heat, etc.). In some cases, the recharged storage media can then be used in a discharge cycle such as, for example, the discharge cycles in FIGs. 14 or 16. In some cases, the pumped thermal system may be used as a heat engine with a waste heat source serving as the hot side heat input and a waste cold source serving as the cold side heat sink. In another implementation, the hot side storage media may be recharged using a modified version of the cycle shown in FIG. 15, where the temperature T 0 is about the ambient temperature and f 0 + corresponds to a temperature above the ambient temperature. In some examples, a waste heat source can be used to provide the heat needed at a temperature of at least f 0 + for heating the working fluid and/or the CTS medium to f 0 + . In another implementation, an intermediate fluid (e.g., Therminol ® ) which can remain liquid between the temperatures f 0 + and T 0 may be used to transfer the heat from the waste heat source to the working fluid.

E. Pumped thermal systems with dedicated compressor/turbine pairs

[0158] In a further aspect of the disclosure, pumped thermal systems comprising multiple working fluid systems, or working fluid flow paths are provided. In some cases, pumped thermal system components in the charge and discharge modes may be the same. For example, the same compressor/turbine pair may be used in charge and discharge cycles. Alternatively, one or more system components may differ between charge and discharge modes. For example, separate compressor/turbine pairs may be used in charge and discharge cycles. In one implementation, the system has one set of heat exchangers, and a common set of HTS and CTS tanks which are charged or discharged by two pairs or sets of compressors and turbines. In another implementation, the system has a common set of HTS and CTS tanks, but separate sets of heat exchangers and separate sets of compressors and turbines.

[0159] Pumped thermal systems with recuperation, utilization of external sources of heat, cold and/or waste heat/cold may benefit from having separate compressor/turbine pairs as a result of operation of turbomachinery over large and/or different temperature ranges in charge and discharge modes. For example, temperature changes between charge and discharge cycles may lead to a thermal adjustment period or other difficulties during transition between the cycles (e.g., issues or factor related to metallurgy, thermal expansion, Reynolds number, temperature dependent compression ratios, tip clearance and/or bearing friction etc.). In another example, turbomachinery (e.g., turbomachinery used in systems with recuperation) may operate over a relatively low pressure ratio (e.g., with relatively few compression stages) but over relatively large temperature during both compression and expansion. The temperature ranges may change (e.g., switch as in FIGs. 17 and 18) between charge and discharge modes. In some cases, the operation over large temperature ranges during compression and/or expansion may complicate design of a combined compressor/turbine for both charge and discharge. Furthermore, recuperation, waste heat/cold incorporation and/or other pumped thermal system features may reduce the compression ratio of the compressor/turbine in the charge cycle and/or the discharge cycle, thereby reducing the cost associated with duplicating compressor/turbine sets.

[0160] FIGs. 22 and 23 show pumped thermal systems with separate compressor 1/turbine 3 pairs for charge mode C and discharge mode D. The separate compressor/turbine pairs may or may not be ganged on a common mechanical shaft. In this example, the compressor/turbine pairs C and D can have separate shafts 10. The shafts 10 may rotate at the same speed or at different speeds. The separate compressor/turbine pairs or working fluid systems may or may not share heat exchangers (e.g., the heat exchangers 2 and 4).

[0161] In the example in FIG. 22, the system has a common set of HTS tanks 6 and 7 and CTS tanks 8 and 9. The system has separate pairs of heat exchangers 2 and 4 and separate compressor 1/turbine 3 pairs for the charge mode C and the discharge mode D. The HTS and CTS storage media flow paths for the charging cycle are shown as solid black lines. The HTS and CTS storage media flow paths for the discharge cycle are shown as the dashed grey lines.

[0162] In the example in FIG. 23, the system, shown in a charge configuration, has one set of heat exchangers 2 and 4, and a common set of HTS tanks 6 and 7 and CTS tanks 8 and 9. The HTS and CTS tanks can be charged by a compressor/turbine set C, or discharged by a compressor/turbine set D, each set comprising a compressor 1 and a turbine 3. The system may switch between the sets C and D using valves 83. In the example in FIG. 22, the system, again shown in a charge configuration, has a common set of HTS tanks 6 and 7 and CTS tanks 8 and 9. The HTS and CTS tanks can be charged by the charge set C that includes a first set of the heat exchangers 2 and 4, the compressor 1 and the turbine 3. The HTS and CTS tanks can be discharged by switching to a separate discharge set C that includes a second set of the heat exchangers 2 and 4, the compressor 1 and the turbine 3.

[0163] In one example, if the charge and discharge sets of compressors and turbines in FIGs.

22 and 23 are not operated at the same time, the charge and discharge sets may share a common set of heat exchangers that are switched between the turbomachinery pairs using the valves 83. In another example, if the charge and discharge turbomachinery sets or pairs in FIGs. 22 and

23 are operated at the same time (e.g., in order for one set to charge, following intermittent generation, and the other set to discharge at the same time, following load), then each set of turbomachinery may have a dedicated set of heat exchangers. In this instance, the charge and discharge sets may or may not share a set of HTS and CTS tanks.

[0164] In some implementations, separate compressor/turbine sets or pairs may advantageously be used in pumped thermal systems used with intermittent and/or variable electric power inputs. For example, a first compressor/turbine set can be used in a charge cycle that follows wind and/or solar power (e.g., electric power input from wind and/or solar power systems) while a second compressor/turbine set can be used in a discharge cycle that follows load (e.g., electric power output to a power grid). In this configuration, pumped thermal systems placed between a power generation system and a load may aid in smoothing variations/fluctuations in input and/or output power requirements. F. Hybrid pumped thermal systems

[0165] In accordance with another aspect of the disclosure, pumped thermal systems can be augmented by additional energy conversion processes and/or be directly utilized as energy conversion systems without energy storage (i.e., as power generation systems). In some examples, pumped thermal systems herein can be modified to allow for direct power generation using natural gas, Diesel fuel, petroleum gas (e.g., propane/butane), dimethyl ether, fuel oil, wood chips, landfill gas, hexane, hydrocarbons or any other combustible substance (e.g., fossil fuel or biomass) for adding heat to the working fluid on a hot side of a working fluid cycle, and a cold side heat sink (e.g., water) for removing heat from the working fluid on a cold side of the working fluid cycle.

[0166] FIGs. 24 and 25 show pumped thermal systems configured in generation mode. In some examples, pumped thermal systems herein can be modified by adding two additional heat exchangers 40 and 41, four additional valves 19a, 19b, 19c and 19d, a heat sink (e.g., a water cooling system; water from a fresh water reservoir such as a river, a lake or a reservoir; salt water from a salt water reservoir such as a sea or an ocean; air cooling using radiators, fans/blowers, convection; or an environmental heat sink such as ground/soil, cold air etc.) 42, and a heat source (e.g., a combustion chamber with a fuel-oxidant mixture) 43. The heat source 43 can exchange heat with a first of the two additional heat exchangers 40, and the heat sink

42 can exchange heat with a second of the two additional heat exchangers 41. The heat source

43 may be used to for exchanging heat with the working fluid 20.

[0167] The heat source 43 may be a combustion heat source. In some examples, the combustion heat source can comprise a combustion chamber for combusting a combustible substance (e.g., a fossil fuel, a synthetic fuel, municipal solid waste (MSW) or biomass). In some cases, the combustion chamber may be separate from the heat exchanger 40. In some cases, the heat exchanger 40 may comprise the combustion chamber. The heat source 43 may be a waste heat source, such as, for example waste heat from a power plant, an industrial process (e.g., furnace exhaust).

[0168] In some examples, a solar heater, a combustion heat source, a waste heat source, or any combination thereof may be used for heating the hot side heat storage fluid and/or the working fluid. In an example, the working fluid can be heated directly using any of these heat sources. In another example, the hot side heat storage fluid (or HTS medium) can be heated using any of these heat sources. In another example, the hot side heat storage fluid (or HTS medium) can be heated in parallel with the working fluid using any of these heat sources. [0169] The pumped thermal systems in FIGs. 24 and 25 may be operated as hybrid systems. For example, the valves 19a, 19b, 19c and 19d can be used to switch between two modes. When the valves are in a first position, the system can operate as a pumped thermal storage system (e.g., closed system in charge/discharge mode). In this configuration, the working fluid 20 (e.g., argon or air) can exchange heat with an HTS medium (e.g., molten salt) in the hot side heat exchanger 2 and with a CTS medium (e.g., hexane) in the cold side heat exchanger 4. When the valves are in a second position, the system can operate as a power generation system (e.g., open system in generation mode). In this configuration, the heat exchangers 2 and 4 may be bypassed, and the working fluid 20 can exchange heat with the combustion chamber 43 in the hot side heat exchanger 40 and with the heat sink 42 in the cold side heat exchanger 41. Any description of configuration and/or design of heat transfer processes (e.g., heat transfer in heat exchangers) described herein in relation to pumped thermal systems may also be applied to hybrid pumped thermal systems, and vice versa. For example, the heat sink 42, the heat source 43, the heat exchangers 40 and 41, and/or the quantity of heat transferred on the cold side and/or the hot side may be configured to decrease or minimize entropy generation associated with heat transfer processes and/or to maximize system efficiency.

[0170] In some implementations, the hybrid systems may operate in storage and generation modes simultaneously. For example, the valves 19a, 19b, 19c and 19d can be configured to allow a given split between a working fluid flow rate to the heat exchangers 40 and 41 and a working fluid flow rate to the heat exchangers 2 and 4. Alternatively, the hybrid systems may operate exclusively in storage mode, or exclusively in generation mode (e.g., as a natural gas peaking plant). In some cases, the split between modes may be selected based on system efficiency, available electric power input (e.g., based on availability), desired electric power output (e.g., based on load demand) etc. For example, thermal efficiency of an ideal system (i.e., assuming isentropic compression and expansion processes, ideal heat transfer processes) operating exclusively in generation mode can be the thermal efficiency of a working fluid undergoing an ideal Brayton cycle. In some examples, thermal efficiencies in hybrid systems of the disclosure (e.g., exclusive and/or split mode operation) can be at least about 10%, at least about 20%, at least about 30%, at least about 40%, at least about 50%, at least about 60%, or more.

[0171] The heat source 43 may be used for exchanging heat with an HTS medium (e.g., a molten salt). For example, the combustion heat source 43 may be used for heating the HTS medium 21. In some instances, rather than using the combustion heat source 43 for exchanging heat in the heat exchanger 40 or for directly exchanging heat between flue gases from the combustion heat source and the working fluid, the combustion heat source 43 may be used to heat up the HTS medium 21 between the two HTS tanks 7 and 6.

[0172] FIG. 26 is a schematic flow diagram of hot side recharging in a pumped heat cycle through heating by the heat source 43 (e.g., combustion heat source, waste heat source). In an example, the heat source 43 is a waste heat source, such as a waste heat source from a refinery or other processing plant. In an example, the heat source 43 is obtained from combusting natural gas in order to ensure the delivery of electricity even if the pumped thermal system runs out of charged storage media. For example, recharging of the hot side storage media using the heat source 43 may provide an advantage over recharging using electricity or other means (e.g., the price of electricity at the time may be too high). The heat source 43 can be used to heat up the HTS medium 21 from the temperature Ti in the tank 7 to the temperature Ti + in the tank 6. The HTS medium can then be used in the CFX 2 for exchanging heat with the working fluid to in a discharge cycle, such as, for example, the discharge cycles in FIGs. 20 and 21.

[0173] In some examples, such as, for example, when the CTS medium is a combustible substance such as a fossil fuel (e.g., hexane or heptanes), burning of the CTS medium stored in the CTS tanks (e.g., the tanks 8 and 9) may be used for providing thermal energy for heating the HTS medium as shown, for example, in FIG. 26 or for operation of the cycles in the configurations shown, for example, in FIGs. 24 and 25.

[0174] The systems of the disclosure may be capable of operating both in an electricity only storage cycle (comprising heat transfer with an HTS medium and a CTS medium below ambient temperature) and in a heat engine to ambient cycle, where, in a discharge mode, heat is input from the HTS medium to the working fluid and rejected to the ambient environment rather than to the CTS medium. This capability may enable the use of heating of the HTS with combustible substances (e.g., as shown in FIG. 26) or the use of solar heating of the HTS (e.g., as shown in FIG. 19). Heat rejection to ambient may be implemented using, for example, the discharge cycles in FIGs. 20 and 21. In some cases, heat may be rejected to the environment with the aid of the ITS medium 61 or the intermediate medium 62.

[0175] Aspects of the disclosure may be synergistically combined. For example, the systems capable of operating both in an electricity only storage cycle and in a heat engine to ambient cycle may comprise a recuperator. Any description in relation to such hybrid systems without a recuperator may readily be applied to hybrid systems with a recuperator at least in some configurations. In some instances, the hybrid systems may be implemented using, for example, the parallel, valved configuration in FIG. 24. For example, the counter-flow heat exchangers 4 in FIGs. 20 and 21 may be implemented as separate counter-flow heat exchangers 67 for exchanging heat with the ambient environment, and may be used in combination with cold side counter-flow heat exchangers 4 of the disclosure.

[0176] In some implementations, the systems herein may be configured to enable switching between different cycles of the disclosure using a shared set of valves and pipes. For example, the system may be configured to switch between the electricity only charge cycle (such as shown in, for example, FIG. 15), the electricity only discharge cycle (such as shown in, for example, FIG. 16), and the heat engine to ambient cycle (such as shown in FIG. 21).

G. Pumped thermal systems with pressure regulation power control

[0177] In an aspect of the disclosure, the pressure of working fluids in pumped thermal systems can be controlled to achieve power control. In an example, the power provided to a closed system in charge mode and/or the power extracted from the closed system in discharge and/or generation mode (e.g., work input/output using the shaft 10) is proportional to the molar or mass flow rate of the circulating working fluid. The mass flow rate is proportional to density, area, and flow velocity. The flow velocity can be kept fixed in order to achieve a fixed shaft speed (e.g., 3600 rpm or 3000 rpm in accordance with power grid requirements of 60 and 50 Hz respectively). Thus, as the pressure of the working fluid changes, the mass flow rate and the power can change. In an example, as the mass flow rate increases in a discharge and/or generation mode, more load should be added to the system to maintain a constant speed of the rotating shaft, and vice versa. In another example, if load is reduced during operation in a discharge and/or generation mode, the reduced load can cause the shaft speed to increase, thus increasing the mass flow rate. For some period of time, before the heat stored in the thermal capacity of the heat exchangers themselves is dissipated, this increased mass flow rate can lead to an increase in the power delivered, in turn increasing the shaft speed. The shaft speed and the power can continue to increase uncontrollably, resulting in a runaway of the rotating shaft. In some examples, pressure regulation may enable control, and thus stabilization of runaway, through adjustment of the amount (e.g., density) of circulating working fluid in accordance with system requirements. In an example where shaft speed (and turbomachinery, such as a turbine, attached to the shaft) begins to run away, a controller can reduce the mass of circulating working fluid (e.g., mass flow rate) in order to decrease the power delivered, in turn decreasing the shaft speed. Pressure regulation may also allow for an increase in mass flow rate in response to an increase in load. In each of these instances, the flow rates of the HTS and CTS media through the heat exchangers can be matched to the heat capacity of the working fluid passing through the heat exchangers. [0178] In some examples, the working fluid pressure in the closed system can be varied by using an auxiliary working fluid tank in fluid communication with the closed system. In this configuration, power input/output can be decreased by transferring the working fluid from the closed cycle loop to the tank, and power input/output can be increased by transferring the working fluid from the tank to the closed cycle loop. In an example, when the pressure of the working fluid is decreased, less heat can be transferred between the thermal storage tanks on the hot and cold sides of the system as a result of the decreased mass flow rate and less power can be input to/output by the system.

[0179] As the pressure of the working fluid is varied, the compression ratios of turbomachinery components may remain substantially unchanged. In some cases, one or more operating parameters and/or configuration (e.g., variable stators, shaft speed) of turbomachinery components can be adjusted in response to a change in working fluid pressure (e.g., to achieve a desired performance of the system). Alternatively, one or more pressure ratios may change in response to a change in working fluid pressure.

[0180] In some cases, reduced cost and/or reduced parasitic energy consumption may be achieved using the power control configuration relative to other configurations (e.g., using a choke valve for controlling the flow of the working fluid). In some examples, variation of working fluid pressure while keeping the temperature and flow velocity constant (or near- constant) may lead to negligible entropy generation. In some examples, an increase or decrease in system pressure may lead to changes in, for example, turbomachinery efficiencies.

[0181] FIG. 27 shows an example of a pumped thermal system with power control. The temperature of the working fluid on the hot and cold sides of the system may remain constant or near-constant for a given period of time regardless of working fluid mass flow rate due to large heat capacities of the heat exchangers 2 and 4 and/or the hot and cold side thermal storage media in the tanks 6, 7, 8 and 9. In some examples, the flow rates of the HTS and CTS media through the heat exchangers 2 and 4 are varied in concert with a change in the pressure of the working fluid in order to keep the temperatures in the heat exchangers and working fluid optimized over longer time periods. Thus, pressure can be used to vary the mass flow rate in the system. One or more auxiliary tanks 44 filled with the working fluid 20 (e.g., air, argon or argon-helium mix) can be in fluid communication with a hot (e.g., high pressure) side of the pumped thermal system and/or a cold (e.g., low pressure) side of the pumped thermal system. In some examples, the auxiliary tank can be in fluid communication with the working fluid adjacent to an inlet of the compressor 1 and/or adjacent to an outlet of the compressor 1. In some examples, the auxiliary tank can be in fluid communication with the working fluid adjacent to an inlet of the turbine 3 and/or adjacent to an outlet of the turbine 3. In further examples, the auxiliary tank can be in fluid communication with the working fluid in one or more locations system (e.g., one or more locations on the high pressure side of the system, on the low pressure side of the system, or any combination thereof). For example, the auxiliary tank can be in fluid communication with the working fluid on a high pressure side and a low pressure side of the closed cycle. In some cases, the fluid communication on the high pressure side can be provided after the compressor and before the turbine. In some cases, the fluid communication on the low pressure side can be provided after the turbine and before the compressor. In some instances, the auxiliary tank can contain working fluid at a pressure intermediate to the high and low pressures of the system. The working fluid in the auxiliary tank can be used to increase or decrease the amount of working fluid 20 circulating in the closed cycle of the pumped thermal system. The amount of working fluid circulating in the closed cycle loop can be decreased by bleeding the working fluid from the high pressure side of the closed cycle loop into the tank through a fluid path containing a valve or mass flow controller 46, thereby charging the tank 44. The amount of working fluid circulating in the closed cycle loop can be increased by bleeding the working fluid from the tank into the low pressure side of the closed cycle loop through a fluid path containing a valve or mass flow controller 45, thereby discharging the tank 44.

[0182] Power control over longer timescales may be implemented by changing the pressure of the working fluid and by adjusting the flow rates of the hot side 21 and cold side 22 thermal storage fluids through the heat exchangers 2 and 4, respectively.

[0183] In some examples, flow rates of the thermal storage media 21 and/or 22 may be controlled (e.g., by a controller) to maintain given heat exchanger inlet and outlet temperatures. In some examples, a first controller(s) may be provided for controlling the flow rates (e.g., mass flow rates) of thermal storage media, and a second controller may be provided for controlling the mass flow rate (e.g., by controlling mass, mass flow rate, pressure etc.) of the working fluid.

H. Pumped thermal systems with pressure-encased motor/generator

[0184] In another aspect of the disclosure, pumped thermal systems with a pressure-encased motor/generator are provided. The pressure-encased motor/generator may be provided as an alternative to configurations where a shaft (also "crankshaft" herein) penetrates through a working fluid containment wall (where it can be exposed to one or more relatively high pressure differentials) in order to connect to a motor/generator outside the working fluid containment wall. In some cases, the shaft may be exposed to pressures and temperatures of the working fluid in the low pressure portion of the working fluid cycle, in the high pressure portion of the working fluid cycle, or both. In some cases, crankshaft seal(s) capable of holding back the pressures which the crankshaft is exposed to inside the working fluid containment wall can be difficult to manufacture and/or difficult to maintain. In some cases, a rotating seal between high and low pressure environments may be difficult to achieve. Thus, coupling of the compressor and turbine to the motor/generator can be challenging. In some implementations, the motor/generator can therefore be placed entirely within the low pressure portion of the working fluid cycle, such that the exterior pressure vessel or working fluid containment wall may not need to be penetrated.

[0185] FIG. 28 shows an example of a pumped thermal system with a pressure encased generator 11. The motor/generator is encased within the pressure vessel or working fluid containment wall (shown as dashed lines) and only feed-through electric leads 49 penetrate through the pressure vessel. A thermal insulation wall 48 is added between the motor/generator 11 and the working fluid in the low pressure portion of the cycle. The technical requirements for achieving an adequate seal through the thermal insulation wall can be less stringent due to the pressure being the same on both sides of the thermal insulation wall (e.g., both sides of the thermal insulation wall can be located in the low pressure portion of the cycle). In an example, the low pressure value can be about 10 atm. In some cases, the motor/generator may be adapted for operation at elevated surrounding pressures. An additional thermal insulation wall 50 can be used to create a seal between the outlet of the compressor 1 and the inlet of the turbine 3 in the high pressure portion of the cycle. In some examples, placing the motor/generator on the cold side of the pumped thermal systems may be beneficial to the operation of the motor/generator (e.g., cooling of a superconducting generator).

I. Pumped thermal systems with variable stator pressure ratio control

[0186] A further aspect of the disclosure relates to control of pressure in working fluid cycles of pumped thermal systems by using variable stators. In some examples, use of variable stators in turbomachinery components can allow pressure ratios in working fluid cycles to be varied. The variable compression ratio can be accomplished by having movable stators in the turbomachinery.

[0187] In some cases, pumped thermal systems (e.g., the systems in FIGs. 17 and 18) can operate at the same compression ratio in both the charge and the discharge cycles. In this configuration, heat can be rejected (e.g., to the environment) in section 38 in the charge cycle and in section 39 in the discharge cycle, wherein the heat in section 38 can be transferred at a lower temperature than the heat in section 39. In alternative configurations, the compression ratio can be varied when switching between the charge cycle and the discharge cycle. In an example, variable stators can be added to both the compressor and the turbine, thus allowing the compression ratio to be tuned. The ability to vary compression ratio between charge and discharge modes may enable heat to be rejected at the lower temperature only (e.g., heat may be rejected in section 38 in the charge cycle but not in section 39 in the discharge cycle). In some examples, a greater portion (or all) of the heat rejected to the environment is transferred at a lower temperature, which may increase the roundtrip efficiency of the system.

[0188] FIG. 29 is an example of variable stators in a compressor/turbine pair. The compressor 1 and the turbine 3 can both have variable stators, so that the compression ratio for each can be tuned. Such tuning may increase roundtrip efficiency.

[0189] The compressor and/or the turbine can (each) include one or more compression stages. For example, the compressor and/or the turbine can have multiple rows of repeating features distributed along its circumference. Each compression stage can comprise one or more rows of features. The rows may be arranged in a given order. In one example, the compressor 1 and the turbine 3 each comprise a sequence of a plurality of inlet guide vanes 51, a first plurality of rotors 52, a plurality of stators 53, a second plurality of rotors 52 and a plurality of outlet guide vanes 54. Each plurality of features can be arranged in a row along the circumference of the compressor/turbine. The configuration (e.g., direction or angle) of the stators 53 can be varied, as indicated in FIG. 29.

[0190] The compressor/turbine pair can be matched. In some cases, an outlet pressure of the compressor can be about the same as an inlet pressure of the turbine, and an inlet pressure of the compressor can be about the same as the outlet pressure of the turbine; thus, the pressure ratio across the turbine can be the same as the pressure ratio across the compressor. In some cases, the inlet/outlet pressures and/or the pressure ratios may differ by a given amount (e.g., to account for pressure drop in the system). The use of variable stators on both the compressor and the turbine can allow the compressor and the turbine to remain matched as the compression ratio is varied. For example, using the variable stators, operation of the compressor and the turbine can remain within suitable operating conditions (e.g. within a given range or at a given point on their respective operating maps) as the compression ratio is varied. Operation within given ranges or at given points on turbomachinery operating maps may allow turbomachinery efficiencies (e.g., isentropic efficiencies) and resulting roundtrip storage efficiency to be maintained within a desired range. In some implementations, the use of variable stators can be combined with other methods for varying the compression ratios (e.g. variable shaft rotation speed, bypassing of turbomachinery stages, gears, power electronics, etc.). J. Pumped thermal system units comprising pumped thermal system subunits

[0191] A further aspect of the disclosure relates to control of charging and discharging rate over a full range from maximum charging/power input to maximum discharging/power output by building composite pumped thermal system units comprised of pumped thermal system subunits. in some examples, pumped thermal systems may have a minimum power input and/or output (e.g., minimum power input and/or minimum power output) above 0% of maximum power input and/or output (e.g., maximum power input and/or maximum power output), respectively. In such cases, a single unit by itself may be able to continuously ramp from the minimum power input to the maximum power input and from the minimum power output to the maximum power output, but may not be able to continuously ramp from the minimum power input to the minimum power output (i.e., from the minimum power input to zero power input/output, and from zero power input/output to the minimum power output). An ability to continuously ramp from the minimum power input to the minimum power output may enable the system to continuously ramp from the maximum power input to the maximum power output. For example, if both the output power and the input power may be turned down all the way to zero during operation, the system may be able to continuously vary the power consumed or supplied across a range from the maximum input (e.g., acting as a load on the grid) to the maximum output (e.g., acting as a generator on the grid). Such functionality may increase (e.g., more than double) the continuously rampable range of the pumped thermal system, increasing the continuously rampable range of the pumped thermal system may be advantageous, for example, when contmuously rampable power range is used as a metric for determining the value of grid assets. Further, such functionality may enable the systems of the disclosure to follow variable load, variable generation, intermittent generation, or any combination thereof.

[0192] In some implementations, composite pumped thermal system units comprised of multiple pumped thermal system subunits may be used. In some cases, each subunit may have a minimum power input and/or output above 0%. The continuous ramping of the power from the maximum power input to the maximum power output may include combining a given quantity of the subunits. For example, a suitable (e.g., sufficiently large) number of subunits may be needed to achieve continuous ramping. In some examples, the number of subunits can be at least about 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 200, 500, 750, 1000, and the like. In some examples, the number of subunits is 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 550, 600, 650, 700, 750, 800, 850, 900, 950, 1000 or more. Each subunit may have a given power capacity. For example, each subunit can have a power capacity that is less than about 0.1%, less than about 0.5%, less than about 1%, less than about 5%, less than about 10%, less than about 25%, less than about 50%, or less than about 90% of the total power capacity of the composite pumped thermal system. In some cases, different subunits may have different power capacities. In some examples, a subunit has a power capacity of about 10 kW, 100 kW, 500 kW, 1 MW, 2 MW, 5 MW, 10 MW, 20 MW, 50 MW, 100 MW, or more. The continuous ramping of the power from the maximum power input to the maximum power output may include controlling each subunit's power input and/or output (e.g., power input and/or power output) separately. In some cases, the subunits may be operated in opposing directions (e.g., one or more subunits may operate in power input mode while one or more subunits may operate in power output mode). In one example, if each pumped thermal system subunit can be continuously ramped between a maximum power input and/or output down to about 50% of the maximum power input and/or output, respectively, three or more such pumped thermal system subunits may be combined into a composite pumped thermal system unit that can be continuously ramped from the maximum input power to the maximum output power. In some implementations, the composite pumped thermal system may not have a fully continuous range between the maximum input power and the maximum output power, but may have an increased number of operating points in this range compared to a non-composite system.

K. Energy storage system units comprising energy storage system subunits

[0193] A further aspect of the disclosure relates to control of charging and discharging rate over a full range from maximum charging/power input to maximum discharging/power output by building composite energy storage system units comprised of energy storage system subunits. In some examples, energy storage systems may have a minimum power input and/or output (e.g., minimum power input and/or minimum power output) above 0% of maximum power input and/or output (e.g., maximum power input and/or maximum power output), respectively. In such cases, a single unit by itself may be able to continuously ramp from the minimum power input to the maximum power input and from the minimum power output to the maximum power output, but may not be able to continuously ramp from the minimum power input to the minimum power output (i.e., from the minimum power input to zero power input/output, and from zero power input/output to the minimum power output). An ability to continuously ramp from the minimum power input to the minimum power output may enable the system to continuously ramp from the maximum power input to the maximum power output. For example, if both the output power and the input power may be turned down all the way to zero during operation, the system may be able to continuously vary the power consumed or supplied across a range from the maximum input (e.g., acting as a load on the grid) to the maximum output (e.g., acting as a generator on the grid). Such functionality may increase (e.g., more than double) the continuously rampable range of the energy storage system. Increasing the continuously rampable range of the energy storage system may be advantageous, for example, when continuously rampable power range is used as a metric for determining the value of grid assets. Further, such functionality may enable the systems of the disclosure to follow variable load, variable generation, intermittent generation, or any combination thereof

[0194] In some implementations, composite energy storage system units comprised of multiple energy storage system subunits may be used. In some examples, any energy storage system having power input output characteristics that may benefit from a composite configuration may be used. In some examples, systems having power input and/or power output characteristics that may benefit from a composite configuration may include various power storage and/or generation systems such as, for example, natural gas or combined cycle power plants, fuel cell systems, battery systems, compressed air energy storage systems, pumped hydroelectric systems, etc. In some cases, each subunit may have a minimum power input and/or output above 0%. The continuous ramping of the power from the maximum power input to the maximum power output may include combining a given quantity of the subunits. For example, a suitable (e.g., sufficiently large) number of subunits may be needed to achieve continuous ramping. In some examples, the number of subunits can be at least about 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 200, 500, 750, 1000, and the like. In some examples, the number of subunits is 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 550, 600, 650, 700, 750, 800, 850, 900, 950, 1000 or more. Each subunit may have a given power capacity. For example, each subunit can have a power capacity that is less than about 0.1%, less than about 0.5%, less than about 1%, less than about 5%, less than about 10%, less than about 25%, less than about 50%, or less than about 90% of the total power capacity of the composite energy storage system. In some cases, different subunits may have different power capacities. In some examples, a subunit has a power capacity of about 10 kW, 100 kW, 500 kW, 1 MW, 2 MW, 5 MW, 10 MW, 20 MW, 50 MW, 100 MW, or more. The continuous ramping of the power from the maximum power input to the maximum power output may include controlling each subunit's power input and/or output (e.g., power input and/or power output) separately. In some cases, the subunits may be operated in opposing directions (e.g., one or more subunits may operate in power input mode while one or more subunits may operate in power output mode). In one example, if each energy storage system subunit can be continuously ramped between a maximum power input and/or output down to about 50% of the maximum power input and/or output, respectively, three or more such energy storage system subunits may be combined into a composite energy storage system unit that can be continuously ramped from the maximum input power to the maximum output power. In some implementations, the composite energy storage system may not have a fully continuous range between the maximum input power and the maximum output power, but may have an increased number of operating points in this range compared to a non-composite system.

L. Control systems

[0195] The present disclosure provides computer control systems (or controllers) that are programmed to implement methods of the disclosure. FIG. 30 shows a computer system 1901 (or controller) that is programmed or otherwise configured to regulate various process parameters of energy storage and/or retrieval systems disclosed herein. Such process parameters can include temperatures, flow rates, pressures and entropy changes.

[0196] The computer system 1901 includes a central processing unit (CPU, also "processor" and "computer processor" herein) 1905, which can be a single core or multi core processor, or a plurality of processors for parallel processing. The computer system 1901 also includes memory or memory location 1910 (e.g., random-access memory, read-only memory, flash memory), electronic storage unit 1915 (e.g., hard disk), communication interface 1920 (e.g., network adapter) for communicating with one or more other systems, and peripheral devices 1925, such as cache, other memory, data storage and/or electronic display adapters. The memory 1910, storage unit 1915, interface 1920 and peripheral devices 1925 are in communication with the CPU 1905 through a communication bus (solid lines), such as a motherboard. The storage unit 1915 can be a data storage unit (or data repository) for storing data. The computer system 1901 can be operatively coupled to a computer network ("network") 1930 with the aid of the communication interface 1920. The network 1930 can be the Internet, an internet and/or extranet, or an intranet and/or extranet that is in communication with the Internet. The network 1930 in some cases is a telecommunication and/or data network. The network 1930 can include one or more computer servers, which can enable distributed computing, such as cloud computing. The network 1930, in some cases with the aid of the computer system 1901, can implement a peer-to-peer network, which may enable devices coupled to the computer system 1901 to behave as a client or a server.

[0197] The computer system 1901 is coupled to an energy storage and/or retrieval system 1935, which can be as described above or elsewhere herein. The computer system 1901 can be coupled to various unit operations of the system 1935, such as flow regulators (e.g., valves), temperature sensors, pressure sensors, compressor(s), turbine(s), electrical switches, and photovoltaic modules. The system 1901 can be directly coupled to, or be a part of, the system 1935, or be in communication with the system 1935 through the network 1930.

[0198] The CPU 1905 can execute a sequence of machine-readable instructions, which can be embodied in a program or software. The instructions may be stored in a memory location, such as the memory 1910. Examples of operations performed by the CPU 1905 can include fetch, decode, execute, and writeback.

[0199] With continued reference to FIG. 30, the storage unit 1915 can store files, such as drivers, libraries and saved programs. The storage unit 1915 can store programs generated by users and recorded sessions, as well as output(s) associated with the programs. The storage unit 1915 can store user data, e.g., user preferences and user programs. The computer system 1901 in some cases can include one or more additional data storage units that are external to the computer system 1901, such as located on a remote server that is in communication with the computer system 1901 through an intranet or the Internet.

[0200] The computer system 1901 can communicate with one or more remote computer systems through the network 1930. For instance, the computer system 1901 can communicate with a remote computer system of a user (e.g., operator). Examples of remote computer systems include personal computers, slate or tablet PC's, telephones, Smart phones, or personal digital assistants. The user can access the computer system 1901 via the network 1930.

[0201] Methods as described herein can be implemented by way of machine (e.g., computer processor) executable code stored on an electronic storage location of the computer system 1901 , such as, for example, on the memory 1910 or electronic storage unit 1915. The machine executable or machine readable code can be provided in the form of software. During use, the code can be executed by the processor 1905. In some cases, the code can be retrieved from the storage unit 1915 and stored on the memory 1910 for ready access by the processor 1905. In some situations, the electronic storage unit 1915 can be precluded, and machine-executable instructions are stored on memory 1910.

[0202] The code can be pre-compiled and configured for use with a machine have a processor adapted to execute the code, or can be compiled during runtime. The code can be supplied in a programming language that can be selected to enable the code to execute in a pre-compiled or as-compiled fashion.

[0203] Aspects of the systems and methods provided herein, such as the computer system 1901 , can be embodied in programming. Various aspects of the technology may be thought of as "products" or "articles of manufacture" typically in the form of machine (or processor) executable code and/or associated data that is carried on or embodied in a type of machine readable medium. Machine-executable code can be stored on an electronic storage unit, such memory (e.g., read-only memory, random-access memory, flash memory) or a hard disk. "Storage" type media can include any or all of the tangible memory of the computers, processors or the like, or associated modules thereof, such as various semiconductor memories, tape drives, disk drives and the like, which may provide non-transitory storage at any time for the software programming. All or portions of the software may at times be communicated through the Internet or various other telecommunication networks. Such communications, for example, may enable loading of the software from one computer or processor into another, for example, from a management server or host computer into the computer platform of an application server. Thus, another type of media that may bear the software elements includes optical, electrical and electromagnetic waves, such as used across physical interfaces between local devices, through wired and optical landline networks and over various air-links. The physical elements that carry such waves, such as wired or wireless links, optical links or the like, also may be considered as media bearing the software. As used herein, unless restricted to non-transitory, tangible "storage" media, terms such as computer or machine "readable medium" refer to any medium that participates in providing instructions to a processor for execution.

[0204] Hence, a machine readable medium, such as computer-executable code, may take many forms, including but not limited to, a tangible storage medium, a carrier wave medium or physical transmission medium. Non-volatile storage media include, for example, optical or magnetic disks, such as any of the storage devices in any computer(s) or the like, such as may be used to implement the databases, etc. shown in the drawings. Volatile storage media include dynamic memory, such as main memory of such a computer platform. Tangible transmission media include coaxial cables; copper wire and fiber optics, including the wires that comprise a bus within a computer system. Carrier-wave transmission media may take the form of electric or electromagnetic signals, or acoustic or light waves such as those generated during radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) data communications. Common forms of computer-readable media therefore include for example: a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, any other magnetic medium, a CD-ROM, DVD or DVD-ROM, any other optical medium, punch cards paper tape, any other physical storage medium with pattems of holes, a RAM, a ROM, a PROM and EPROM, a FLASH-EPROM, any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave transporting data or instructions, cables or links transporting such a carrier wave, or any other medium from which a computer may read programming code and/or data. Many of these forms of computer readable media may be involved in carrying one or more sequences of one or more instructions to a processor for execution.

III. Illustrative Inventory Control Systems

[0205] Figure 31 illustrates an example closed cycle system, e.g., a closed Brayton system, and includes a working fluid flowing through at least a compressor 101, a hot side heat exchanger

102, a turbine 103, and a cold side heat exchanger 104. A thermal storage medium may flow between a cold side storage container ("CSC") 106 and a hot side storage container ("HSC") 107 via the hot side heat exchanger 102. Another thermal storage medium may flow between at least CSC 108 and HSC 109 via the cold side heat exchanger 104. Fluid paths are as indicated in Figure 31 and flow direction of a fluid in a given fluid path are indicated by one or more arrows. Each of the above identified fluids, components, and/or fluid paths may be the same as or similar to previously described closed cycle (e.g., Brayton cycle) elements, such as working fluid 20, compressor 1, hot side heat exchanger 2, turbine 3, cold side heat exchanger 4, HTS medium 21, HTS tank 7, HTS tank 6, CTS medium 22, CTS tank 8, and CTS tank 9. Figure 31 is illustrative only and other fluids, components and/or fluid paths may be present. Some components, such as a hot side or cold side heat exchanger or tanks may be replaced with other components that serve a similar thermal purpose.

[0206] In particular, Figure 31 illustrates an inventory control system 100 implemented in a Brayton cycle heat engine. The system 100 may include various pumps (e.g., variable speed pumps) configured to pump fluid to, through, or from system components. For purposes of illustration, the pumps are not shown in Figure 31.

[0207] The heat engine may be reversible (i.e., operate as a heat pump) and may take the form of other heat engines and/or reversible heat engines describe herein and may include additional components beyond those shown in the illustration, including a recuperator. The heat engine may include a generator/motor 111 that may generate electricity and distribute some or all of the generated electricity to a grid system, including a local, municipal, regional, or national electrical grid. When the heat engine is in a power generation mode (i.e., discharge mode), generator/motor 111 may also be practically referred to solely as generator, as it may function primarily or entirely as a device for generating electricity. The generator/motor 111 as illustrated may include an alternator, a high speed alternator, and/or power electronics (e.g., power frequency conversion electronics) for managing, converting, and/or modifying electrical phase, voltage, current, and frequency of generated and/or distributed power. The generator/motor 111 may be mechanically coupled to the compressor 101 and the turbine

103. The compressor 101 and the turbine 103 may be coupled to the generator/motor 111 via one or more shafts 110. Alternatively, the compressor 101 and the turbine 103 may be coupled to the generator/motor 111 via one or more gearboxes and/or shafts.

[0208] The heat engine may include a hot side heat exchanger 102 coupled downstream from the compressor 101 and upstream from the turbine 103. Further, the heat engine may include a cold side heat exchanger 104 coupled upstream from the compressor 101 and downstream from the turbine 103. In the heat engine, a working fluid may circulate through a closed cycle fluid path that includes, in sequence, the compressor 101, the hot side heat exchanger 102, the turbine 103, and the cold side heat exchanger 104. In some embodiments, the closed cycle fluid path may include a recuperator. The closed cycle fluid path may include a high pressure leg 201 and a low pressure leg 202. The high pressure leg 201 may include all or a portion of the closed cycle fluid path downstream from the compressor 101 and upstream from the turbine 103. Further, the low pressure leg 202 may include all or a portion of the closed cycle fluid path upstream from the compressor 101 and downstream from the turbine 103. Pressure of working fluid in the high pressure leg 201 may be greater than pressure of working fluid in the low pressure leg 202. Non-limiting examples of working fluids include air, argon, carbon dioxide, or gaseous mixtures.

[0209] Within the hot side heat exchanger 102, the working fluid circulating through the closed cycle fluid path may thermally contact a hot side thermal storage ("FITS") medium. Preferably the HTS medium may be a molten salt. The hot side heat exchanger 102 may be a counterflow heat exchanger. An HSC 107 may be coupled to the hot side heat exchanger 102. Further, a CSC 106 may be coupled to the hot side heat exchanger 102. When the heat engine operates in the power generation mode, a pump connected between the hot side heat exchanger 102 and HSC 107 may pump the HTS medium from the HSC 107, through the hot side heat exchanger 102, and into the CSC 106. Alternatively, when the heat engine operates as a heat pump in a power storage mode (i.e., charge mode), the pump may be connected between the hot side heat exchanger 102 and the CSC 106 and may pump the HTS medium from the CSC 106, through the hot side heat exchanger 102, and into the HSC 107. Also, as used herein, hot storage and cold storage are used to reflect relative temperatures between storage containers that may share common thermal storage medium and do not necessarily refer to locations within a hot side or a cold side of a heat engine or heat pump.

[0210] Within the cold side heat exchanger 104, the working fluid circulating through the closed cycle fluid path may thermally contact a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium, which may be different from the HTS medium. Preferably the CTS medium may be an alkane, such as hexane. The cold side heat exchanger 104 may be a counterflow heat exchanger. A CSC 108 may be coupled to the cold side heat exchanger 104. Further, an HSC 109 may be coupled to the cold side heat exchanger 108. When the heat engine operates in the power generation mode, a pump connected between the cold side heat exchanger 104 and the CSC 108 may pump the CTS medium from the CSC 108, through the cold side heat exchanger 104, and into the HSC 109. Alternatively, when the heat engine operates as a heat pump in the power storage mode, a pump may be connected between the cold side heat exchanger 104 and the HSC 109 and may pump the CTS medium from the HSC 109, through the heat exchanger 104, and into the CSC 108.

[0211] The heat engine may include a second compressor 120 and a dehumidifier 121. The second compressor 120 may be coupled to the low pressure leg 202 and the dehumidifier 121 may be coupled to the low pressure leg 202. As shown, the dehumidifier 121 is located downstream of the second compressor 120 and upstream of the low pressure leg 202. However, in other examples, the dehumidifier 121 may be located upstream of the second compressor 120. Valves 122 and 123 may be located between the second compressor 120 and the low pressure leg 202. Further, valves 122 and 123 may be located between the dehumidifier 121 and the low pressure leg 202.

[0212] The second compressor 120 may be configured to, upon demand, compress environmental air and inject the compressed environmental air into the low pressure leg 202. Further, the dehumidifier 121 may be configured to dehumidify the environmental air.

[0213] As shown, the second compressor 120 is configured to, upon demand, inject the compressed environmental air into the low pressure leg 202 downstream of the cold side heat exchanger 104 and upstream of the compressor 101. However, in other examples, the second compressor 120 may be configured, upon demand, to inject the compressed environmental air into other locations of the low pressure leg 202, including, without limitation, upstream of the cold side heat exchanger 104 and downstream of the turbine 103.

[0214] Further, as shown, the second compressor 120 supplies compressed environmental air to the dehumidifier 121 for dehumidification. Thus, in the illustrated example, the environmental air is dehumidified after the environmental air is compressed. However, in other examples, the dehumidifier 121 may supply dehumidified environmental air to the second compressor 120 for compressing. For example, where the dehumidifier 121 is located upstream of the second compressor 120, the dehumidifier 121 may supply dehumidified environmental air to the second compressor 120 for compressing. Thus, in some examples, the environmental air may be dehumidified before the environmental air is compressed. [0215] Within the dehumidifier 121, the environmental air may thermally contact a portion of the CTS medium. For example, a pump may be located between the dehumidifier 121 and CSC 108 and may pump the portion of CTS medium from the CSC 108, through the dehumidifier 121, and to the HSC 109 or another location, including back to the CSC 108. By thermally contacting the environmental air with a portion of the CTS medium, water may condense out of the environmental air. Condensing water out of the environmental air before injecting the environmental air into the low pressure leg 202 may reduce corrosion of one or more components in the closed cycle fluid path and/or prevent a change in thermal capacity and/or expansion ratios of the working fluid.

[0216] Alternatively, the heat engine may include an intermediate CTS storage container ("ISC") 124 and a pump may be located between the dehumidifier 121 and CSC 108 and may pump the portion of the CTS medium from the CSC 108, through the dehumidifier, and to the ISC 124 (as shown by the dashed fluid flow path). The ISC 124 may store CTS medium at a temperature between the temperature of the CTS medium stored in the HSC 109 and the temperature of the CTS medium stored in the CSC 108. For example, the ISC 124 may store CTS medium at a temperature that is (i) less than the temperature of the CTS medium stored in the HSC 109 and (ii) greater than the temperature of the CTS medium stored in the CSC 108.

[0217] In some implementations, the environmental air may be filtered before being injected into the low pressure leg 202. For example, the dehumidifier 121 may include a filtering element (not shown) that is configured to filter impurities out of the environmental air. In another example, the filtering element may be a separate component upstream of the low pressure leg 202. The separate filtering element may be upstream of the second compressor 120 or downstream of the second compressor 120. Further, the separate filtering element may be upstream of the dehumidifier 121 or downstream of the dehumidifier 121.

[0218] The heat engine may include a working fluid storage tank 130. The working fluid storage tank 130 may be a pressure tank. The working fluid storage tank 130 may be coupled to the high pressure leg 201 and the low pressure leg 202. Valve 132 may be located between the high pressure leg 201 and the working fluid storage tank 130. Further, valves 133 and 123 may be located between the low pressure leg 201 and the working fluid storage tank 130. As illustrated, the working fluid 130 tank shares a common fluid path and valves 123 and 133 with the injected environmental air path; however, the working fluid tank may have a separate connection point and valve system from the injected environmental air path. [0219] Each of the valves 122, 123, 132, and 133 may be any suitable valve capable of permitting and blocking flow of working fluid and/or environmental air, including a gate valve, globe valve, plug valve, ball valve, butterfly valve, check valve, pinch valve, and diaphragm valve. In some embodiments, the valves 122, 123, 132, and 133 may each be the same type of valve. However, in other embodiments, at least two of the valves 122, 123, 132, and 133 may be different types of valves.

[0220] The heat engine may further include an expansion valve 140 and may further include an auxiliary heat exchanger 141. The auxiliary heat exchanger 141 may be a counterflow heat exchanger. The expansion valve 140 may be downstream of the cold side heat exchanger 104 and upstream of the compressor 101. The expansion valve 140 may be located at other locations in the closed cycle fluid path as well, including upstream of the cold side heat exchanger 104 and downstream of the turbine 103. The expansion valve 140 may be configured to expel working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path. The auxiliary heat exchanger 141 may be downstream of the expansion valve 140.

[0221] Within the auxiliary heat exchanger 141, working fluid that flows through the expansion valve 140 may thermally contact a portion of the CTS medium. For example, a pump may be located between the auxiliary heat exchanger 141 and HSC 109 and may pump a portion of the CTS medium from the HSC 109, through the auxiliary heat exchanger 141, and back to the HSC 109. As other examples, working fluid that flows through the expansion valve 140 may thermally contact CTS medium form the CSC 108 or the ISC 124 (not shown). Additionally or alternatively, working fluid that flows through the auxiliary heat exchanger 141 may be released (e.g., vented) to the atmosphere.

[0222] Sensors may be located at various locations throughout the heat engine or external to the heat engine. The sensors may be configured to determine and/or report one or more operating conditions within or external to the system. In the example embodiments illustrated in Figure 31, pressure sensors may be located at various inlets and outlets to components within the system. For example, pressure sensor 154 may determine and report pressure of the working fluid in the high pressure leg 201, pressure sensor 155 may determine and report pressure of the working fluid in the low pressure leg 202, and pressure sensor 156 may determine and report pressure of the working fluid in the working fluid storage tank 130. Further, in the example embodiments illustrated in Figure 31, temperature sensors may be located at various inlets and outlets to components within the system. For example, temperature sensor 157 may determine and report temperature of the compressed environmental air, temperature sensor 158 may determine and report temperature of the CTS medium downstream of the dehumidifier 121 , and temperature sensor 159 may determine and report temperature of the working fluid downstream of the expansion valve 140. As illustrative examples, operating conditions may include sensor readings (e.g., pressure of the working in the high pressure leg 201) and/or a combination of sensor readings, and/or a derived value based on sensor readings (e.g., difference between pressure of the working fluid in the high pressure leg 201 and pressure of the working fluid in the low pressure leg 202). In practical application, the illustrated sensors may reflect multiple sensors in a fluid path (e.g., pressure sensor 154 may be two or more sensors in the high pressure leg 201).

[0223] Alternatively or additionally, other types of sensors that determine and/or report one or more operating conditions of the system may be located throughout the illustrated system. Sensor 150 may connect to the generator/motor 1 11 and various discrete components included within it, such as alternators and/or power electronics. Sensor 150 may also connect to an electrical power link between the generator/motor 111 and the electrical grid to which the generator/motor 1 11 is supplying electrical power. Sensor 150 may determine and report current, voltage, phase, frequency, and/or the quantity of electrical power generated and/or distributed by the generator/motor 11 1 and/or its associated discrete components. Sensor 151 may determine and report the phase of the grid and sensors 150 and 151 may together or in combination determine and report a phase difference between the generated electrical power and the grid. Sensor 152a may determine and report turbine torque, turbine RPM, generator torque, and/or generator RPM. If shaft 1 10 is a common shaft and not a split shaft between turbine 103 and compressor 101, then sensor 152a may also determine and report compressor torque and/or compressor RPM. Alternatively, sensor 152b may determine and report compressor torque and/or compressor RPM.

[0224] Each of the valves 122, 123, 132, 133, and 140 may be connected to one or more control devices. For example, the valves 122, 123, 132, 133, and 140 may be connected to control device 162. In some implementations, the control device 162 may be wirelessly connected to the valves 122, 123, 132, 133, and 140. The control device 162 may be configured to operate the valves 122 and 123 to control the flow of compressed environmental air to the low pressure leg 202. Thus, control device 162 may be capable of operating the valves 122 and 123 to (i) permit flow of the compressed environmental air to the low pressure leg 202 and (ii) block flow of the compressed environmental air to the low pressure leg 202. Similarly, control device 162 may be capable of operating valves 133 and 123 to (i) permit flow of the working fluid from the working fluid storage tank 130 to the low pressure leg 202 and (ii) block flow of the working fluid from the working fluid storage tank 130 and the low pressure leg 202. Further, the control device 162 may be capable of operating the expansion valve 140 to expel working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path. Although the heat engine is described as including the control device 162, in other examples, a heat engine may include multiple control devices with independent or coordinated control over the valves 122, 123, 132, 133, and 140.

[0225] The control device 162 may be in communication with a controller 164. The controller 164 may be capable of directing the control device 162 to operate, as non-limiting examples,

(i) the valves 122 and 123 to change an amount of flow of the compressed environmental air,

(ii) the valves 133 and 123 to change an amount of flow of the working fluid, and (iii) the expansion valve 140 to expel working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path. For example, controller 164 may be capable of issuing an instruction to control device 162 to open or close valves 122 and 123 by a specified amount (e.g., open, partially open, closed, partially closed). The controller 164 may be any practical form known in the art, including those commonly used in industrial control systems, such as PLC controllers. Further, the controller 164 may be in communication with the second compressor 120. Although the heat engine is described as including the controller 164, in other examples, a heat engine may include multiple controllers with independent or coordinate control over the valves 122, 123, 132, 133, and 140.

[0226] The controller 164 may also be in communication with one or more of the sensors. For clarity of illustration, connections are not shown in Figure 31 between the controller 164 and each of the illustrated sensors with which the controller 164 may be communicating, but it should be understood that the controller 164 may be able to receive sensor data from a relevant sensor. The controller 164 may be in communication with and receive data from the sensors in any practical form, including hardwired electrical data communication, wireless data communication, optical transmission, and/or from intermediary sources, or via other forms known in the art.

[0227] The controller 164 may be capable of comparing calculated data or data reported from one or more sensors to data reported from one or more other sensors, historical sensor data, internal setpoints, or other comparators. For example, the controller 164 could compare the reported data from at least two of sensors 150, 151, 152a, 152b, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, and 159. Additionally, the controller 164 could determine a phase difference between generated electrical power and grid power by comparing reported data from sensors 150 and 151.

[0228] In some implementations, a heat engine may further include one or more recuperative heat exchangers (or "recuperators") which may transfer heat between the working fluid at various stages within the closed cycle flow path. Preferably, the recuperative heat exchanger is a counterflow heat exchanger. In an example, the recuperative heat exchanger thermally contacts the working fluid downstream of the compressor and upstream of the hot side heat exchanger with the working fluid downstream of the turbine and upstream of the cold side heat exchanger, preferably in counterfiow.

[0229] In a heat engine that includes a recuperative heat exchanger, the working fluid may circulate through a closed cycle fluid path that includes, in sequence, the compressor, the recuperative heat exchanger, the hot side heat exchanger, the turbine, the recuperative heat exchanger again (in thermal counterflow contact with the prior stream), the cold side heat exchanger, and back to the compressor. There may be no recuperative heat exchangers in a heat engine, or there may be more than one recuperative heat exchanger in a heat engine and the one or more recuperative heat exchangers may be located at alternative locations than the location within the circulation scheme described above.

A. Example injection of environmental air into the closed cycle fluid path

[0230] Using the illustration in Figure 31 , a working fluid may be circulated through the closed cycle fluid path that includes, in sequence, the compressor 101 , the hot side heat exchanger 102, the turbine 103, and the cold side heat exchanger 104. The closed cycle fluid path includes the high pressure leg 201 and the low pressure leg 202. In some examples, the working fluid may be air.

[0231] In an example embodiment, inventory control in the system 100 may involve, in response to a demand for increased power generation, compressing and dehumidifying environmental air; and injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg 202.

[0232] The demand for increased power generation may be received or determined by one or more components of the system 100. As one example, the demand for increased power generation may be received by the controller 164. The controller 164 may receive the demand for increased power generation from, for example, the grid system. As another example, the demand for increased power generation may be determined by the controller 164. The controller 164 may determine the demand for increased power generation based any of the operating conditions described above, including turbine torque, turbine RPM, generator torque, and generator RPM; and current, voltage, phase, frequency, and/or quantity of electrical power generated and/or distributed by the generator and/or its discrete components. Moreover, the demand for increased power generation may occur when any of the operating conditions described above reaches a threshold demand value.

[0233] Further, in some implementations, in response to the demand for increased power generation, the controller 164 may instruct the second compressor 120 to compress environmental air and inject the compressed environmental air into the low pressure leg 202. The second compressor 120 may compress the environmental air, such that pressure of the environmental air is the same as or greater than pressure of the working fluid in the low pressure leg 202. Additionally, in response to the demand for increased power generation, the controller 164 may instruct the control device 162 to open the valves 122 and 123 to permit flow of the compressed environmental air to the low pressure leg 202.

[0234] Moreover, in response to the demand for increased power generation, the dehumidifier 121 may dehumidify the environmental air. The dehumidifier 121 may dehumidify the environmental air by thermally contacting the environmental air with a portion of the CTS medium and condensing water out of the environmental air. Other methods of dehumidification are also considered, including without limitation, non-CTS chillers, external chillers and absorption/desiccants.

[0235] In another example embodiment, inventory control in the system 100 may involve extracting working fluid from the high pressure leg 201 of the closed cycle fluid path; storing the extracted working fluid in the working fluid storage tank 130; and injecting the extracted working fluid from the working fluid storage tank 130 into the low pressure leg 202 simultaneously with inj ecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg 202.

[0236] In one embodiment, working fluid may be extracted from the closed cycle fluid path by opening the hot side valve 132, such that pressure of the working fluid in the high pressure leg 201 decreases and pressure of the working fluid in the working fluid storage tank 130 increases. When the hot side valve 132 is open, the cold side valve 133 may be closed.

[0237] The hot side valve 132 may be opened by the control device 162. For example, the controller 164 may instruct the control device 162 to open the hot side valve 132 when pressure of the working fluid in the high pressure leg 201 or the low pressure leg 202 reaches a threshold pressure value. Further, the controller 164 may determine an operating condition of the system 100 and the threshold pressure value may be defined based on the determined operating condition. The threshold pressure value may be defined based on any of the operating conditions described above. As another example, the controller 164 may instruct the control device 162 to open the hot side valve 132 in response to a demand for decreased power generation. (Example demands for decreased power generation are described below in Section III.B).

[0238] Further, the hot side valve 132 may be closed by the control device 162. For example, the controller 164 may instruct the control device 162 to close the hot side valve 132 when pressure of the working fluid in the working storage tank 130 reaches a threshold pressure value. The threshold pressure value may be defined, for example, as an equilibrium pressure between pressure of the working fluid in the high pressure leg 201 and pressure of the working fluid in the working fluid storage tank 130 or as a pressure less than or more than an equilibrium pressure between pressure of the working fluid in the high pressure leg 201 and pressure of the working fluid in the working fluid storage tank 130. Further, the controller 164 may determine an operating condition of the system 100 and the threshold pressure value may be defined based on the determined operating condition. The threshold pressure value may be defined based on any of the operating conditions described above. In some embodiments, the threshold pressure value related to opening the hot side valve 132 may be different than the threshold pressure value related to closing the hot side valve 132. Further, the working fluid storage tank 130 may store the extracted working fluid when the hot side valve 132 and the cold side valve 133 are each closed.

[0239] In another embodiment, the extracted working fluid may be injected from the working fluid storage tank 130 into the low pressure leg 202 simultaneously with injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg 202 by opening the cold side valve 133. When the cold side valve 133 is opened, the hot side valve 132 may be closed. Further, when the cold side valve 133 is opened, the valve 123 may be open. The cold side valve 133 may be opened by the control device 162. For example, the controller 164 may instruct the control device 162 to open the cold side valve 133 in response to the demand for increased power generation. Alternatively, the extracted working fluid may be injected from the working fluid storage tank 130 into the low pressure leg 202 before or after the compressed and dehumidified environmental air is injected into the low pressure leg 202.

B. Example expulsion of working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path

[0240] In a closed cycle system, it may be desirable to remove a quantity of working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path to reduce power of the system. For example, it may be desirable to remove a quantity of working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path that was previously added to the closed cycle fluid path. In some embodiments, removing working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path may decrease a mass flow rate in the closed cycle fluid path and thereby decrease an amount of electricity generated by the system.

[0241] Using the illustration in Figure 31, a working fluid may be circulated through the closed cycle fluid path that includes, in sequence, the compressor 101, the hot side heat exchanger 102, the turbine 103, and the cold side heat exchanger 104. The closed cycle fluid path includes the high pressure leg 201 and the low pressure leg 202. A recuperator may also be included in the system.

[0242] In an example embodiment, inventory control in the system 100 may involve, in response to a demand for decreased power generation, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path through the expansion valve 140, thereby cooling the expelled working fluid; and thermally contacting the expelled working fluid with a portion of the CTS medium.

[0243] The demand for decreased power generation may be received or determined by one or more components of the system 100. As one example, the demand for decreased power generation may be received by the controller 164. The controller 164 may receive the demand for decreased power generation from, for example, the grid system. As another example, the demand for decreased power generation may be determined by the controller 164. The controller 164 may determine the demand for decreased power generation based any of the operating conditions described above, including turbine torque, turbine RPM, generator torque, and generator RPM; and current, voltage, phase, frequency, and/or quantity of electrical power generated and/or distributed by the generator and/or its discrete components. Moreover, the demand for decreased power generation may occur when any of the operating conditions described above reaches a threshold demand value. In some embodiments, the threshold demand value related to a demand for increased power generation may be different than the threshold demand value related to a demand for decreased power generation.

[0244] Further, in some implementations, in response to the demand for decreased power generation, the controller 164 may instruct the control device 162 to operate the expansion valve 140 to expel working fluid from closed cycle fluid path. The working fluid may be expelled from the low pressure leg 202. In operation, the expansion valve 140 may expand the working fluid that flows from the low pressure leg 202 through the valve 140 to atmospheric pressure. Additionally, the expansion valve 140 may cool the working fluid that flows from the low pressure leg 202 through the expansion valve 140.

[0245] The auxiliary heat exchanger 141 may contact the working fluid with a portion of the CTS medium. As noted, the portion of the CTS medium may be pumped from the HSC 109 or from the CSC 108 through the auxiliary heat exchanger 141.

C. Quiescent mode

[0246] Brayton cycle systems may operate in charge or discharge modes, where discharge mode is generally consistent with converting stored thermal energy into a substantial quantity of electrical energy for distribution to a grid or other significant power user and charge mode is generally consistent with storing substantial amounts of thermal energy in the system for later use. However, the Brayton cycle system may also operate in quiescent mode, where the system is neither producing a substantial quantity of electrical energy nor storing substantial amounts of thermal energy.

[0247] Non-operating pumps and/or turbo machinery in a quiescent mode will cause the temperature profile in a Brayton cycle heat exchanger to be significantly different than the desired temperature profile when the heat exchanger is operating in a charge or discharge mode. This difference can lead to long ramp-up times for a Brayton cycle system to come online and begin providing or accepting energy. It may also lead to additional thermal stresses upon temperature change. Beneficially, inventory control described herein can be implemented to run the compressor and the turbine at a very low speed(s) to "leak" heat into or out of the heat exchangers to maintain a desired temperature profile in the heat exchangers that allows a fast transition to optimum operation in charge or discharge modes. For example, a power system may be operated in a quiescent mode such that the cycle is operated at a level sufficient to circulate working and/or thermal fluids, but is effectively generating no or negligible net electrical power. In the quiescent mode, inventory control described herein can be implemented to maintain a desired mass flow rate in the closed cycle fluid path such that when the system transitions to, for example, discharge mode, the heat exchangers are already at or near operating temperatures. In that manner, cutover from quiescent to discharge modes may take very little time, for example, less than 15 seconds.

IV. Illustrative Methods

[0248] Figure 32 is a flowchart illustrating a method 3200 of inventory control, according to an example embodiment. Illustrative methods, such as the method 3200, may be carried out in whole or in part by a component or components of a closed cycle system, such as the system 100.

[0249] As shown by block 3202, the method 3200 may involve in a closed cycle system operating in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg. In some embodiments, the closed cycle system may include a closed Brayton cycle system. Moreover, in some embodiments, the working fluid may be air.

[0250] As shown by block 3204, the method 3200 may involve in response to a demand for increased power generation, compressing and dehumidifying environmental air. In some embodiments, the demand for increased power generation may be received or determined. The demand for increased power generation may be determined based on any of the operating conditions described above. Moreover, in some embodiments, the demand for increased power generation may occur when any of the operation conditions described above reaches a threshold demand value.

[0251] In some embodiments, closed cycle system may be configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through the cold side heat exchanger with a CTS medium, and dehumidifying the environmental air may involve transferring at least a portion of the CTS medium to a dehumidifier and thermally contacting the environmental air with the CTS medium within the dehumidifier and condensing water out of the environmental air. Moreover, in some embodiments, dehumidifying the environmental air may occur before compressing the environmental air. Further, in some embodiments, dehumidifying the environmental air may occur after compressing the environmental air.

[0252] As shown by block 3206, the method 3200 may involve injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg.

[0253] In some embodiments, the method 3200 may further involve extracting working fluid from the high pressure leg of the closed cycle fluid path; storing the extracted working fluid in a working fluid storage tank; injecting the extracted working fluid from the working fluid storage tank into the low pressure leg simultaneously with injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg.

[0254] Moreover, in some embodiments, the method 3200 may further involve after thermally contacting the environmental air with the CTS medium within the dehumidifier and condensing water out of the environmental air, transferring at least a portion of the CTS medium from the dehumidifier to an intermediate CTS storage tank.

[0255] Figure 33 is a flow chart illustrating a method 3300 of inventory control, according to an example embodiment. Illustrative methods, such as the method 3300, may be carried out in whole or in part by a component or components of a closed cycle system, such as the system 100.

[0256] As shown by block 3302, the method 3300 may involve in a closed cycle system in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg, and wherein the closed cycle system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through the cold side heat exchanger with a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium. In some embodiments, the closed cycle system may include a closed Brayton cycle system. Moreover, in some embodiments, the working fluid may be air. [0257] As shown by block 3304, the method 3300 may involve in response to a demand for decreased power generation, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path through an expansion valve, thereby cooling the expelled working fluid. In some embodiments, the demand for decreased power generation may be received or determined. The demand for decreased power generation may be determined based on any of the operating conditions described above. Moreover, in some embodiments, the demand for decreased power generation may occur when any of the operation conditions described above reaches a threshold demand value. Further, in some embodiments, the working fluid may be expelled from the low pressure leg.

[0258] As shown by block 3306, the method 3300 may involve thermally contacting the expelled working fluid with a portion of the CTS medium. In some embodiments, the expelled working fluid may be thermally contacted with a portion of the CTS medium in an auxiliary heat exchanger.

V. Illustrative Non-Transitory Computer Readable Media

[0259] Some or all of the functions described above and illustrated in Figures 32 and 33 may be performed by a computing device in response to the execution of instructions stored in a non-transitory computer readable medium. The non-transitory computer readable medium could be, for example, a random access memory (RAM), a read-only memory (ROM), a flash memory, a cache memory, one or more magnetically encoded discs, one or more optically encoded discs, or any other form of non-transitory data storage. The non-transitory computer readable medium could also be distributed among multiple data storage elements, which could be remotely located from each other. The computing device that executes the stored instructions could be the computer system 1901 as described and illustrated in Figure 30.

[0260] The non-transitory computer readable medium may store instructions executable by a processor (e.g., CPU 1905) to perform various functions. The functions may include in a closed cycle system operating in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg; in response to a demand for increased power generation, compressing and dehumidifying environmental air; and injecting the compressed and dehumidified environmental air into the low pressure leg.

[0261] In addition, the functions may include in a closed cycle system in a power generation mode, circulating a working fluid through a closed cycle fluid path including, in sequence, a compressor, a hot side heat exchanger, a turbine, and a cold side heat exchanger, wherein the closed cycle fluid path comprises a high pressure leg and a low pressure leg, and wherein the closed cycle system is configured to thermally contact the working fluid circulating through the cold side heat exchanger with a cold side thermal storage ("CTS") medium; in response to a demand for decreased power generation, expelling working fluid from the closed cycle fluid path through an expansion valve, thereby cooling the expelled working fluid; and thermally contacting the expelled working fluid with a portion of the CTS medium.

VI. Conclusion

[0262] While various aspects and embodiments have been disclosed herein, other aspects and embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The various aspects and embodiments disclosed herein are for purposes of illustration and are not intended to be limiting, with the true scope and spirit being indicated by the following claims.