A new type of energy storage system could revolutionise energy storage and drop the charging time of electric cars from hours to seconds

via University of Glasgow

A new type of energy storage system could revolutionise energy storage and drop the charging time of electric cars from hours to seconds.

In a new paper published today in the journal Nature Chemistry, chemists from the University of Glasgow discuss how they developed a flow battery system using a nano-molecule that can store electric power or hydrogen gas giving a new type of hybrid energy storage system that can be used as a flow battery or for hydrogen storage.

Their ‘hybrid-electric-hydrogen’ flow battery, based upon the design of a nanoscale battery molecule can store energy, releasing the power on demand as electric power or hydrogen gas that can be used a fuel. When a concentrated liquid containing the nano-molecules is made, the amount of energy it can store increases by almost 10 times. The energy can be released as either electricity or hydrogen gas meaning that the system could be used flexibly in situations that might need either a fuel or electric power.

One potential benefit of this system is that electric cars could be charged in seconds, as the material is a pumpable liquid. This could mean that the battery of an electric car could be “recharged” in roughly the same length of time as petrol cars can be filled up. The old battery liquid would be removed at the same time and recharged ready to be used again.

The approach was designed and developed by Professor Leroy (Lee) Cronin, the University of Glasgow’s Regius Chair of Chemistry, and Dr Mark Symes, Senior Lecturer in Electrochemistry, also at the University of Glasgow with Dr Jia Jia Chen, who is a researcher in the team. They are convinced that this result will help pave the way for the development of new energy storage systems that could be used in electric cars, for the storage of renewable energy, and to develop electric-to-gas energy systems for when a fuel is required.

Professor Cronin said: “For future renewables to be effective high capacity and flexible energy storage systems are needed to smooth out the peaks and troughs in supply. Our approach will provide a new route to do this electrochemically and could even have application in electric cars where batteries can still take hours to recharge and have limited capacity. Moreover, the very high energy density of our material could increase the range of electric cars, and also increase the resilience of energy storage systems to keep the lights on at times of peak demand.”

Learn more: LIQUID BATTERY COULD LEAD TO FLEXIBLE ENERGY STORAGE

 

 

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Innovative molten silicon-based energy storage system stores up to 10 times more energy

via UPM

via UPM

Researchers from UPM have developed an innovative energy storage system which is able to store up to ten times more than the existing solutions using materials abundant in nature.

A team of researchers from Solar Energy Institute at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) are developing a novel system that allows the storage energy in molten silicon which is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust.  The system, which has been recently published in theEnergy Journal and has patent pending status in the United States, and aims to develop a new generation of low cost solar thermal stations and becoming a innovative storage system of electricity and cogeneration for urban centers.

The unstoppable progress of renewable energy, especially wind and photovoltaic energy, has given rise to a global challenge in the energy sector: the storage of such dispersed and intermittent energy. In recent years, a large number of devices have been developed for this purpose. Some of these devices have reached the advanced testing phase and even the commercialization phase. And this is the case of the solar thermal energy, in which sunlight is stored as heat molten salt, and then the energy is and converted to electricity upon demand through a thermal generator.

However, there are still problems with the existing solutions due to excessive costs, safety problems or lack of material resources in the future. Therefore, research centres and companies worldwide are seeking alternative solutions by using low cost and abundant materials lacking of great risks to the safety of people.

Researchers from Solar Energy Institute at UPM are developing a new energy storage system in which the entry energy, either from solar energy or surplus electricity from a renewable power generation, is stored in the form of heat in molten silicon at very high temperature, around 1400 °C.

Silicon has unique properties that confer the ability to store more than 1 MWh of energy in a cubic meter, ten times more than using salts. Molten silicon is thermally isolated from its environment until such energy is demanded, when this occurs, the heat stored is converted into electricity. Alejandro Datas, the research promoter of this project said: “At such high temperatures, silicon intensely shines in the same way that the Sun does, thus photovoltaic cells, thermophotovoltaic cells in this case, can be used to convert this incandescent radiation into electricity. The use of thermophotovoltaic cells is key in this system, since any other type of generator would hardly work at extreme temperatures.

In addition, these cells can produce 100 times more electric power per unit area than conventional solar cells. These thermophotovoltaic cells are able to reach higher conversion efficiencies, even over 50%.

The final result is extremely compact system with no mobile parts, silent and able to store up to10 times more of energy than existing solutions using abundant and inexpensive materials.

The first application of these devices is expected to be in solar thermal energy sector, thus avoiding the complex systems that use heat transfer fluids, valves and turbines to produce electricity. By simplifying the setting, the energy costs generated could dramatically reduce, and along with a higher storage capacity can turn this solution into a profitable solution system and an appropriate alternative of renewable generation.

These systems could be also used to storage electricity in the housing sector and to manage all energy needs (electricity and heating) in urban areas at medium and long term.

The team of UPM researchers has recently achieved funds through the EXPLORA project from Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. Now, they are starting to manufacture the first lab-scale prototype.

In parallel, researchers have started the business project SILSTORE that aims to industrialize these results. The project has been recognized as one of the best startups born in 2015 at UPM.

Learn more: Innovative molten silicon-based energy storage system

 

 

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Reversible Fuel Cell-based Energy Storage System

Boeing's reversible solid oxide fuel cell system in operation in Huntington Beach, Calif. Photo credit: Boeing

Boeing’s reversible solid oxide fuel cell system in operation in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Photo credit: Boeing

Cyber secure system stores energy as compressed hydrogen, generates clean power.  Integrated into power grid, system available for military, civilian uses

After 16 months of development, Boeing has delivered a fuel cell energy storage system to the U.S. Navy for testing. The cell is being tested to determine its ability to support the energy needs of military and commercial customers.

The system is the first of its kind using a technology called a “reversible solid oxide fuel cell” to store energy from renewable resources (including wind and solar), producing clean, zero-emissions electricity.

The system generates, compresses and stores hydrogen. When the grid demands power, it operates as a fuel cell, consuming the stored hydrogen to produce electricity. Boeing’s technology is unique in being able to both store energy and produce electricity in a single system, making the technology “reversible.”

This first unit was commissioned on the Southern California Edison power grid at Boeing’s Huntington Beach, Calif., facility before being installed for further testing on the Navy’s ‘microgrid’ at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center in Port Hueneme, Calif.

“This fuel cell solution is an exciting new technology providing our customers with a flexible, affordable and environmentally progressive option for energy storage and power generation,” said Lance Towers, director, Advanced Technology Programs. “Boeing is known for successful innovation and technology advancement. As the company begins its second century, it’s not surprising that we’d be at the forefront of helping solve the energy and technology challenges of the 21st century.”

Boeing’s fuel cell product was developed using the company’s experience with energy systems for unmanned undersea vehicles and can be adapted and customized for a variety of defense and commercial applications.

Learn more: Boeing Delivers Reversible Fuel Cell-based Energy Storage System to U.S. Navy

 

 

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Researchers Develop Effective Thermal Energy Storage System

Energy storage using the concrete method cost only $0.78 per kilowatt-hour, far below the Department of Energy’s goal of achieving thermal energy storage at a cost of $15 per kilowatt-hour.

Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a thermal energy storage system that will work as a viable alternative to current methods used for storing energy collected from solar panels. Incorporating the researchers’ design into the operation of a concentrated solar power plant will dramatically increase annual energy production while significantly decreasing production costs.

Current storage methods use molten salts, oils or beds of packed rock as media to conduct heat inside thermal energy storage tanks. Although these methods do not lose much of the energy collected by the panels, they are either expensive or cause damage to tanks. Specifically, the use of a packed rock, currently the most efficient and least expensive method, leads to thermal “ratcheting,” which is the stress caused to tank walls because of the expansion and contraction of storage tanks due to thermal cycling.

“The most efficient, conventional method of storing energy from solar collectors satisfies the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal for system efficiency,” said Panneer Selvam, professor of civil engineering. “But there are problems associated with this method. Filler material used in the conventional method stresses and degrades the walls of storage tanks. This creates inefficiencies that aren’t calculated and, more importantly, could lead to catastrophic rupture of a tank.”
As an alternative to conventional methods, Selvam and doctoral student Matt Strasser designed and tested a structured thermocline system that uses parallel concrete plates instead of packed rock inside a single storage tank.

Thermocline systems are units — bodies of water, such as oceans and lakes, for example, but also smaller units that contain fluids or gas — with distinct boundaries separating layers that have different temperatures. The plates were made from a special mixture of concrete developed by Micah Hale, associate professor of civil engineering. The mixture has survived temperatures of up to 600 degrees Celsius, or 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit. The storage process takes heat, collected in solar panels, and then transfers the heat through steel pipes into the concrete, which absorbs the heat and stores it until it can be transferred to a generator.

Modeling results showed the concrete plates conducted heat with an efficiency of 93.9 percent, which is higher than the Department of Energy’s goal and only slightly less than the efficiency of the packed-bed method. Tests also confirmed that the concrete layers conducted heat without causing damage to materials used for storage. In addition, energy storage using the concrete method cost only $0.78 per kilowatt-hour, far below the Department of Energy’s goal of achieving thermal energy storage at a cost of $15 per kilowatt-hour.

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via University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
 

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Solar Power Day and Night

KIT Controls Fluctuation of Renewable Energies by Using Modern Storage Systems

Energy storage systems are one of the key technologies for the energy turnaround. With their help, the fluctuating supply of electricity based on photovoltaics and wind power can be stored until the time of consumption. At Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), several pilot plants of solar cells, small wind power plants, lithium-ion batteries, and power electronics are under construction to demonstrate how load peaks in the grid can be balanced and what regenerative power supply by an isolated network may look like in the future.

“High-performance batteries on the basis of lithium ions can already be applied reasonably in the grid today,” says Dr. Andreas Gutsch, coordinator of the Competence E project. As stationary storage systems, they can store solar or wind power until it is retrieved by the grid. “When applied correctly, batteries can also balance higher load and production peaks and, hence, make sense from an economic point of view.”

The Competence E project is presently developing several pilot systems consisting of photovoltaics and wind power plants coupled to a lithium-ion battery. Over a development phase of two years, a worldwide battery screening was made. “Now, we know which lithium-ion cells are suited best for stationary storage systems,” says Gutsch. The first stage of the modular systems will be constructed on KIT Campus North by the end of 2012. It will have a capacity of 50 kW.

A newly developed, gear-free wind generator that is particularly suited for weak wind regions will complement electricity production by the photovoltaics system in the winter months in particular. The first stage will be able to cover electricity consumption of a medium-sized company throughout the year. In the long term, the know-how obtained will be used to develop smaller storage systems for private households as well as larger systems for industry.

Apart from the battery, the key component of the stationary energy storage system is an adapted power electronics unit for charging and discharging the battery within two hours only. Hence, the stationary storage system can be applied as an interim storage system for peak load balancing. During times of weak loads, solar energy and wind electricity are fed into the battery. At times of peak load, the energy from the photovoltaics system, wind generator, and battery is fed into the grid. Apart from load management, night discharge is of significant economic importance, because consumption of photovoltaics energy by other electric devices of the user can be increased considerably. The battery is charged in the afternoon and discharged during darkness until the next morning.

“Controlling the interaction of solar cells, wind generator, storage systems, and the grid is the central challenge,” Gutsch explains. System control always has to reliably and precisely interfere with the multitude of operation states. Only this will ensure a good service life and performance of the lithium-ion batteries in the long term and, hence, economic efficiency of the complete system. “Such a system can be controlled 24 h a day and 365 days a year with detailed battery know-how. Only then will economically efficient and safe operation be guaranteed for decades,” emphasizes Gutsch. After first functional tests, concrete application systems of variable power will be produced in cooperation with industry.

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via Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
 

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