Liquid air could revolutionise the way energy is stored in India, reducing the costs and ensuring power is available when it is most needed, thanks to new British research. Scientists at the University of Birmingham have launched a new cryogenic energy storage facility, using liquid air to store and provide power in a way that could transform India’s future energy needs.
The British Secretary of State for Business, Sajid Javid MP, officially opened the new cryogenic energy storage pilot facility, which is housed on the University of Birmingham campus, on Friday (4th December 2015). It is the UK’s first dedicated research facility for energy storage using cryogenic liquids, and comprises new laboratories, equipment, and a major demonstration plant.
Professor Adam Tickell, Provost and Vice Principal of the University, who is currently in New Delhi with the British Secretary of State as part of a UK delegation to promote regional innovation, said: “Cryogenic energy storage could be a significant component of the future energy mix by allowing us to take energy produced when it is not needed and store it for deployment at times of greatest need. The Birmingham Energy Institute and Thermal Energy Research Accelerator are looking for companies in India that would be willing to invest in this technology and partner with us so that together, we can shape the energy solutions of tomorrow.”
Cryogenic energy storage systems use renewable and/or off-peak electricity to liquefy air which involves compression and expansion processes. The cryogenic liquid has a temperature below -190oC and is stored in a vessel. It is pumped to a high pressure (150 bar) when electricity is needed. It is then vapourised into a gas, and then superheated using either or both heat and waste heat if available, before going through an expansion process in a turbine to generate electricity.
This system generates electricity when it is most needed: taking renewable and off-peak electricity and using it at peak times to solve the ‘wrong-time wrong-place’ energy generation and supply problem.
The cryogenic energy storage plant is also connected to the University’s electrical grid, providing a small amount of power to the campus.