Research database

LObSTER - Towards affordable LOss-free seasonal Thermal enERgy storage for civil applications – LObSTER

24 months (2025)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
PNRR – Mission 4
Funding body:
Project identification number:
PoliTo role:


At present, a great fraction of worldwide primary energy consumption is due to building heating and cooling demand, and it is primarily covered by fossil fuels, with the well-known consequences on environment and people health. Solar energy can contribute to significantly reduce oil and gas dependence, but its disruptive potential is greatly untapped by the offset (on daily and most importantly seasonal basis) between radiation and energy demand. Therefore, thermal energy storage – TES technology coupled with solar heating systems can play a crucial role to increase renewable energy share in the building sector. The LObSTER project aims at reducing scientific and technological gap for promoting sorption TES in building heating applications, with nearly Zero Energy Buildings – nZEB being the reference, as they are characterized by less energy demand. We therefore propose a synergistic research effort, where a young enthusiastic team with know-how in thermal engineering, multi-scale engineering simulations, building physics and material science cooperate towards the above objective. The research focuses on four pillars: i) Thermal optimization of TES components, under both closed and open cycle configuration; ii) Set-up of the first computer-assisted route for composite sorbent optimization and selection suited for seasonal applications; iii) New composite materials synthesis to overcome current storage capacity and durability; iv) Detailed techno-economic and LCA analysis of optimal system configuration. We will focus on the design and lab-scale testing of closed and open sorption-based TES systems. Closed systems only exchange energy with the environment and are based on properly designed evacuated tanks and heat exchangers. This ensures high energy density with performance only partially influenced by ambient and outdoor air conditions, but a careful design is needed to increase compactness and to limit air leakages into the tank. In open systems, heat and vapor mass transfer occurs, with higher technological simplicity compared to the former. However, open sorption TES capacity depends on conditions of air streams (e.g., humidity), and optimal sorption materials selection. The project will have access to unique advanced composite sorbent materials, with high TES density and competitive cost. This is accomplished by: an innovative computer-assisted platform capable of efficient multi-scale material modelling and selection; “in house” innovative protocols (wet-impregnation of salt solutions into a porous matrix; one-pot synthesis) to synthesize a variety of state-of-the-art composite sorbent materials. Cost, toxicity, and corrosiveness of all involved materials shall be also considered, to achieve a multi-parameter optimized solution. A techno-economic and LCA analysis will be finally performed to assess not only scientific merit of this technology at the building scale, but also its possible market penetration potential and sustainability.





ERC sectors

PE8_6 - Energy processes engineering

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 7. Assicurare a tutti l’accesso a sistemi di energia economici, affidabili, sostenibili e moderni


Total cost: € 224,115.00
Total contribution: € 224,115.00
PoliTo total cost: € 80,309.00
PoliTo contribution: € 80,309.00