Vermont Patent of the Month – January 2023

Norwich Solar Technologies Inc., a leader in thermal energy storage (TES) for use in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, has recently been granted a patent for their piston ring design. 

TES systems allow for excess thermal energy to be stored and used on varying scales, from individual homes to large-scale energy storage facilities producing megawatts of power. One promising source of heat for TES systems is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), which uses reflective surfaces to concentrate sunlight and convert it into heat.

One of the key components of TES systems is the floating piston, which separates the hot and cold working fluids. The floating piston is equipped with piston rings, which play a critical role in ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the TES system.

The piston ring invented by Norwich Solar Technologies is made up of a series of arc segments, each connected by an articulating joint. Each arc segment includes a recess on its inner surface that contains a spring member which increases flexibility and resilience. 

Made of thermoplastic or metal materials, the floating piston is equipped with two piston rings, one positioned on each side. The piston rings are designed to provide the necessary flexibility and resilience for the floating piston to function effectively. The spring elements used in the piston rings are wave springs, providing the required compression and tension for optimal performance. 

The thermoplastic or metal material minimizes heat transfer through the piston, ensuring the hot and cold sides of the TES remain uncompromised. The innovative design is more cost effective and has a longer lifespan than other available floating pistons. The increased flexibility and sleek design optimizes space and stability.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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