The increase in exergy storage capacity that is attained in thermal storages through stratification is assessed. A design-oriented temperature distribution model for vertically stratified thermal storages that facilitates the evaluation of storage energy and exergy contents is utilized. The paper is directed towards demonstrating the thermodynamic benefits achieved through stratification, and increasing the utilization of exergy-based performance measures for stratified thermal storages. A wide range of realistic storage-fluid temperature profiles is considered, and for each the relative increase in exergy content of the stratified storage compared to the same storage when it is fully mixed is evaluated. The results indicate that, for all temperature profiles considered, the exergy storage capacity of a thermal storage increases when it is stratified, and increases as the degree of stratification, as represented through greater and sharper spatial temperature variations, increases. Furthermore, the percentage increase in exergy capacity is greatest for storages at temperatures near to the environment temperature, and decreases as the mean storage temperature diverges from the environment temperature (to either higher or lower temperatures). It is concluded that (i) the use of stratification in thermal storage designs should be considered as it increases the exergy storage capacity of a thermal storage, and (ii) exergy analysis should be applied in the analysis and comparison of stratified thermal storage systems.

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