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Alamo Colleges' Library Information

St. Philip's College
• MLK Campus Library
• Southwest Campus Library

Thermal Energy Storage at Alamo Colleges 

Alamo Colleges is thinking ahead and optimizing its energy use with its new thermal energy storage tanks.

Check out this informational website prepared by our team of summer interns.

Thermal Storage Tank

What is the purpose of a thermal storage tank?

A thermal storage tank allows us to produce thermal energy, chilled or hot water, during periods of low electrical demand. By producing thermal energy when electricity demand is low ("off-peak"), Alamo Colleges can reduce its energy use during high demand hours ("peak hours"). This process helps Alamo Colleges balance its energy demand between day and night time, and can save money because sometimes utilities charge a lower rate for electricity used during off-peak hours. It also helps CPS maintain our grid, where electricity is pulled from, by reducing the amount of energy needed when energy use in San Antonio is high. 


How it works?

Thermal energy storage is the process of cooling water during off-peak hours then withdrawing it to use in our connected buildings during peak hours. This a daily cycle that happens between day and night time. 

During the day, at peak hours, cold water already in the thermal tanks is used to circulate cool air throughout the connected buildings in use. This is called the discharge cycle. While chilled water leaves the tank, the water inside the tank is absorbing sunlight and heating up. This water will need to be cooled again. 

At the end of an peak cycle the thermal tank is full warm water that it will send to a chiller to cool before the next peak cycle. This cycle is called off-peak, or the charging cycle, and occurs at night when a building is not in use and no cool air is needed. The chiller will move the cold water back into the thermal storage tank to use before the next peak cycle. As the tanks prepare for the next day one thermal energy storage cycle is complete.