Power plants and many industrial processes produce heat as a byproduct, as much as up to 50% of the initial energy input may be released as heat. What if we could store this waste heat for later use?
The most common form of thermal storage is in insulated water tanks, but water can only retain heat for a short period of time as it cools off gradually. Zeolite is a mineral that can store up to four times more heat than water can, but, unlike water, zeolite retains all of the heat for an unlimited period of time. Although these unique properties of zeolite are well known, it is only now that scientists of the German Fraunhofer Institute have succeeded in using the mineral to build a working thermal storage system.