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Faculty of Engineering

Energy storage project wins major award

Tuesday 6 December 2011

An innovative energy storage project co-developed by researchers at the University of Leeds has won the ultimate accolade at The Engineer magazine’s 2011 Technology and Innovation Awards.

Working with project partner, Highview Power Storage , the Leeds team led by Professor Yulong Ding (SPEME), co-designed and lab-tested a novel cryogenic energy storage system that stores off-peak energy, using liquefied air as the storage medium. The project won this year’s Energy Award as well as the Grand Prix.

The system takes in surplus electricity during off-peak hours and uses this to help produce a cryogen from a gaseous input, such as air.

By producing the cryogen, the system is therefore storing energy. During peak demand, the system heats the cryogen using the environmental heat, which is free. This is followed by superheating of waste heat (usually free in many cases) or solar heat, to produce a high pressure gas to expand in an expander (a turbine for large scale systems, or a piston engine for small systems) to release the stored energy, generating electricity in the expansion process.

According to the team, storing excess energy saves money because there is no need to ramp up production of carbon-based energy plants, which may generate electricity that may not be used.

Furthermore, the system, which uses established technology, can be built anywhere; can easily be scaled-up for use in very large utilities and is significantly cheaper than batteries (and also has significantly longer life, similar to power plants). The system can also simultaneously convert low-grade waste heat to electricity at high levels of efficiency.

Project partners include an international academic collaboration led by Professor Yulong Ding of the University of Leeds; sustainable energy company Highview Power Storage; Scottish and Southern Energy; and BOC/Linde. The award-winning project has also been supported by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Related articles:

The Engineer - The 2011 Energy & Environment Winner - CES
The Engineer - 2011 Technology and Innovation Award Winners Revealed

For more on Professor Yulong Ding's research see: Energy storage system deals with sudden draw on the grid