A UK research centre for cryogenic energy storage is set to receive a fund to conduct liquid air energy storage research (LAES) for five years.
The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) and UK-based developer of large-scale long duration LAES systems Highview Power Storage (HPS) have collaborated to create and fund a new professional appointment to explore the limits of LAES.
The five-year research appointment will be led by Yulong Ding of the University of Birmingham - which will also play host to the project.
LAES has the potential to drive the development of variable renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, thanks to its ability to convert excess/off-peak electricity into multi megawatts hours of stored energy, an RAE statement says.
“The eventual goal of my work is to keep the UK’s leading edge in the area of cryogenic energy storage
Professor Yulong Ding
Utilising an HPS LAES system, ambient air is drawn from the environment where it is cleaned, compressed and liquefied at sub-zero temperatures.
Through this process, 700 litres of ambient air become one litre of liquid air.
The liquid air can be stored in an insulated storage tank at low pressure for extended periods of time without significant losses.
When power is required, liquid air is drawn from the tanks, pumped to high pressure and heated. This process produces a high-pressure gas, which is then used to spin a turbine which drives the generator to produce electricity.
According to HPS, its technology can integrate waste heat or cold from industrial processes increasing the system’s overall efficiency.
As a means of supporting Professor Ding, HPS will relocate its 350kW/2.5MWh LAES pilot plant to Birmingham.
RAE vice president Ric Parker said: “Energy storage is one of the eight great technologies selected for fast-track development by the government for their potential to give the UK a technological and commercial advantage worldwide.
“Promoting innovation in pivotal technologies such as energy storage is part of the Academy’s continuing commitment to support the best research with the strongest impact on society.”
Likewise, outlining his five-year development objectives, Ding said: “My research will cover, in an integrated manner, materials, thermodynamic processes and cycles, storage components and devices, system integration and optimisation, and applications of cryogenic energy storage. My focus in the first three years will be on novel micro- and nano-structured composite materials for thermal energy (cold and heat) storage and high performance storage components and devices based on the new materials.”
Ding added: “The focus of the last two years of the appointment will be on system integration and optimisation. The eventual goal of my work is to keep the UK’s leading edge in the area of cryogenic energy storage and to facilitate industrial applications of the technology.”