UK energy plant to use liquid air

Posted: November 7, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation
Tags: ,

Liquid air energy storage: Highview’s 5 MW pre-commercial demonstrator [credit: ModernPowerSystems]

Under the heading ‘Cool air technology for a cooler planet’, the firm behind the scheme says:
‘Our CRYOBattery can deliver anywhere from 20 MW/80 MWh to more than 200 MW/1.2 GWh of energy and can power up to 200,000 homes for a whole day. We do this at half the cost of lithium-ion batteries and release zero emissions in the process.’
The system is intended to run on surplus night-time output from wind farms, but as ever, converting electricity to some form of storage and then back to electricity again is adding yet more costs and complexity to the system.

– – –
Work is beginning on what is thought to be the world’s first major plant to store energy in the form of liquid air, reports BBC News.

It will use surplus electricity from wind farms at night to compress air so hard that it becomes a liquid at -196 Celsius.

Then when there is a peak in demand in a day or a month, the liquid air will be warmed so it expands.

The resulting rush of air will drive a turbine to make electricity, which can be sold back to the grid.

The 50MW facility near Manchester will store enough power for roughly 50,000 homes.

The system was devised by Peter Dearman, a self-taught backyard inventor from Hertfordshire, and it has been taken to commercial scale with a £10m grant from the UK government.

“It’s very exciting,” he told BBC News. “We need many different forms of energy storage – and I’m confident liquid air will be one of them.”

Mr Dearman said his invention was 60-70% efficient, depending how it is used.

That is less efficient than batteries, but he said the advantage of liquid air is the low cost of the storage tanks – so it can easily be scaled up.

Continued here.

  1. cognog2 says:

    OH DEAR! another of these highly expensive perpetual motion type machines only popping up in an attempt to sort out the endemic problem of intermittent energy sources. All this will do is gobble up energy, resources and costs with minimal benefit.

  2. Coeur de Lion says:

    Currently 1.8GW and about four per cent of the daily demand minimum of about 34GW. Let’s pump up some compressed air!!!

  3. Gamecock says:

    ‘surplus electricity from wind farms’


  4. oldbrew says:

    We do this at half the cost of lithium-ion batteries

    If so they should be able to compete with them in the energy storage market. No rare earth materials needed.
    – – –
    Gamecock: much lower demand overnight.

  5. Gamecock says:

    You presume wind will meet the lower demand at night.

    You will never meet demand with wind, even at night.

  6. oldbrew says:

    It’s already happening, e.g:

    Wind farms paid record £9.3m to switch off their turbines on Friday
    MAY 24, 2020

    This is almost double the previous single day record payout to wind farm operators, which was £4.8m on Oct 8, 2018, when turbines were switched off because it became too windy.
    – – –
    So not just a side-effect of lockdowns etc.

  7. Curious George says:

    “Mr Dearman said his invention was 60-70% efficient.”
    When a self-taught backyard inventor says it .. it must be true.

  8. JB says:

    I’ve been running compressed air tools for decades. They’re notoriously inefficient, especially the compressor. A 4″ electric grinder consumes far and away less energy than the compressor that powers the 4″ air grinder. Same with my electric and pneumatic drills. Liquefying air I’m fairly certain requires multistage, positive displacement pumps. Those produce a lot of heat which must be removed in order to accomplish liquefaction–which is the bane of every spray painter. It is not an easy process to convert a gas to a liquid and deal with the heat involved. At first glance I cannot envision any conversion system that attains such high over-all efficiency this fellow claims.

    The theoretical power in wind that can be captured by any wind turbine is 59.3% (Daughtery & Franzini), and it goes down from there with electro-mechanical conversion. Per unit volume of space and materials consumed to convert that theoretical energy, the cost goes up as the total efficiency goes down. And that’s neglecting the effects of air density and velocity which as most everyone here knows is all over the spectrum from one unit of time to the next.

    And then as anyone knows having been around compressed air systems, they require periodic refurbishment/replacement as the pneumatic/hydraulic process takes its toll on the components. Just that factor alone complicates the MTBF of the proposed system since the energy input is fluctuating wildly.

    As a retired technologist, my experience is that there is always a long, and often dead-end road with novel ideas because turning them into manufacturable and long-term viable products is usually a far greater challenge.

    All this stuff reminds me of the vehicle alternator conversion kits in the 70s that would supposedly produce 120Vdc and 3-4KW. Such shysters didn’t let on that the magnetic components and the semiconductors involved were simply not capable of that much power. But they sure exploited a lot of credulous people!

  9. ivan says:

    No matter what we think I can guarantee that this plant will be 100% efficient . . . at extracting money from the pockets of the population through ‘green taxes’ and subsidies. Therefore it doesn’t matter what its overall efficiency is or even if it is useful.

  10. Graeme No.3 says:

    This has been around for some time,
    By Roger Harrabin Published 2 October 2012

    “Wrong-time electricity” is used to take in air, remove the CO2 and water vapour, which would otherwise freeze solid. (Standard industrial process Argon is produced industrially by the fractional distillation of liquid air, that separates liquid nitrogen, which boils at 77.3 K, from argon, which boils at 87.3 K, and liquid oxygen which boils at 90.2 K. About 700,000 tonnes of argon are produced worldwide every year.).

    the liquid air is held in a giant vacuum flask until it is needed.
    The development of pressurised super-insulated vacuum vessels has enabled liquid nitrogen to be stored and transported over longer time periods with LOSSES REDUCED TO 2% per day.

    when demand for power rises, the liquid is WARMED TO AMBIENT TEMPERATURE. Anyone who has seen an ambient heat exchanger (relying on the surrounding air) warming liquid nitrogen will know it is covered with ice. Supplementary heating required? As per – IMechE says this process is only 25% efficient but it is massively improved by co-siting the cryo-generator next to an industrial plant or power station producing low-grade heat that is currently vented and being released into the atmosphere. The heat can be used to boost the thermal expansion of the liquid air.

    Sounds like the best site might be just next to a reliable coal or gas fired power station.

  11. tom0mason says:

    ‘Cool air technology for a cooler planet’,

    But as you compress the air it liberates lots of heat, so maybe not such a cool planet.
    “Then when there is a peak in demand in a day or a month, the liquid air will be warmed so it expands.” Warmed? How? With electricity? (so still not “Cool air technology for a cooler planet”)
    Unfortunately when the air is released at any appreciable rate to do work, the air tank will cool rapidly (as the liquid air boils), and tends to freeze up all the pipework, etc.
    Overall a considerable amount of energy is lost in the compress/decompress process. Not a very efficient battery.
    Sounds familiar ? Like the French guy who got paid a small fortune to perfect cars and buses that ran on compressed air (see ). After TATA took an option on the company it was found that the freezing tank problem was a major issue.

  12. Graeme No.3 says:

    Buried in that article is the latest 1909 technology.
    MDI is working on an even simpler hybridization scheme, first successfully employed in 1901 to extend the range of pneumatic torpedoes. The idea is to add a small fuel burner upstream of the engine to warm the air released from the tank, increasing the air’s volume and thus reducing the amount required to charge the cylinders. MDI claims this dual-mode system will triple the AirPod’s range, while consuming just 0.56 L/100 km of gasoline (420 mpg).

  13. hunterson7 says:

    But it runs on air!
    How can it not be green?

  14. hunterson7 says:

    oldbrew, thanks for the reminder on this bit of engineering larceny.

  15. oldbrew says:

    Tom0 – re. ‘Warmed? How? With electricity?’

    In the graphic it uses waste heat.

  16. tom0mason says:

    Graeme No.3,
    That report was from the heady days of 30 Oct 2009, when people were gung-ho about the whole enterprise. As there are a few drawbacks …

    · The overall efficiency of a vehicle using compressed air energy storage, using the above refueling figures, is around 5-7%.[8] For comparison, well to wheel efficiency of a conventional internal-combustion drivetrain is about 14%,[9]
    · Early tests have demonstrated the limited storage capacity of the tanks; the only published test of a vehicle running on compressed air alone was limited to a range of 7.22 km.[10]
    · A 2005 study demonstrated that cars running on lithium-ion batteries out-perform both compressed air and fuel cell vehicles more than threefold at the same speeds.[11] MDI claimed in 2007 that an air car will be able to travel 140 km in urban driving, and have a range of 80 km with a top speed of 110 km/h (68 mph) on highways,[12] when operating on compressed air alone but as of August 2017 have yet to produce a vehicle that matches this performance.
    · A 2009 study found that “Even under highly optimistic assumptions the compressed-air car is significantly less efficient than a battery electric vehicle and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional gas-powered car with a coal intensive power mix.” However, they also suggested, “a pneumatic–combustion hybrid is technologically feasible, inexpensive and could eventually compete with hybrid electric vehicles.”[13]

    I’m not that sure that MDI is still in business, or that TATA is actively developing the idea.

    Compressed-air engine

    Tata Motors signed an agreement in 2007 with a French firm, Motor Development International, to produce a compressed air car Nano.[36] While the vehicle was supposed to be able to travel approximately 200 kilometres (120 mi) on $3 US of electricity to compress the air, Tata’s Vice-President of Engineering Systems confirmed in late 2009 that vehicle range continued to be a problem.[36][37]

    I’ve watch development of MDI and TATA’s vehicles with interest for many years, so far lots of press releases and no products.

  17. Phoenix44 says:

    I really doubt if there will be much surplus electricity at night when we have all plugged our EVs into charge and all heating is converted to electricity. And thdns there’s all those lorry & other non-passenger vehicles to charge too. And that’s if the wind is blowing that night.

  18. oldbrew says:

    In January 2015, there was “Disappointing news from France: PSA Peugeot Citroen has put an indefinite hold on the development of its promising-sounding Hybrid Air powertrain, apparently because the company has been unable to find a development partner willing to split the huge costs of engineering the system.”

  19. tom0mason says:

    Nice video with Highview Power at
    Just looks so easy.

  20. Gamecock says:

    “It’s already happening, e.g:”

    Today’s environment. The future’s higher penetration of ‘renewable’ electricity will change the environment.

  21. oldbrew says:

    Gamecock – no doubt, but not so much between midnight and say 5 a.m? EVs could change that though.
    – – –
    Slightly O/T…

    Sunday 8 November 2020
    National Grid faces breakup amid PM’s green push

    There is now growing support for the operator’s electricity division to be moved into an independent body, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
    . . .
    It comes as the Prime Minister is expected to outline further details of his “green industrial revolution” backing a new wave of nuclear power plants.

    He is reportedly mulling a 10-point plan, set to be announced this week, to slash the UK’s carbon emissions.

  22. Gamecock says:

    “He is reportedly mulling a 10-point plan, set to be announced this week, to slash the UK’s carbon emissions.”

    Hah! Contact before the best sites are taken.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s