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Yulong Ding
Director of the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage, Professor Yulong Ding

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has awarded £350,000 to a consortium comprising the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage (BCES), Aggregate Industries and Innovatium, for a first-time industrial application of liquid air energy storage technology.

The award was made through the Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator, a funding programme administered by the Carbon Trust, designed to support partnerships between developers of energy efficient technologies and industrial companies willing to test technologies on-site.

The funding will be used to take the innovative Peak Reduction by Integrated Storage and Management of Air ( PRISMA) system from laboratory scale testing to demonstration level at Aggregate Industries’ Bardon Hill quarry in Leicestershire. This will be a key step in the PRISMA system’s journey to full commercialisation.

Annually, UK industry uses over 10TWh of electricity to compress air, which is equivalent to the output of almost 1.5 power stations and over 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The PRISMA system stores energy in liquid air form to provide on-site compressed air, allowing inefficient partially loaded air compressors with variable-demand to be turned-off, improving total system efficiency by up to 57%.

Richard Eaton, Energy Manager at Aggregate Industries, commented: “Supporting energy efficiency and carbon reduction innovations is at the heart of our renewed energy strategy.  The PRISMA project and LAES is a key part of this approach and is something that we are passionate about. The project will help to address the ‘energy trilemma’ of managing energy efficiency, energy cost and energy security by; significantly improving the energy efficiency of our compressed air system; managing electricity costs by running the compressors out-of-hours, when electricity is cheaper; and helping to smooth and reduce the peak electrical demand on site.  We are therefore very excited to be the first industrial partner to install the PRISMA system at our Bardon Hill quarry in Leicestershire.”

The system uses an innovative latent energy cold storage tank filled with a phase change material (PCM), designed by the University of Birmingham, to store thermal energy, and a number of other off-the-shelf components to form a system that will work with Aggregate Industries’ existing compressed air network. The integration of the equipment and components in an industrial setting, for the provision of compressed air, has never been attempted before.

Simon Branch, CEO and CoFounder at Innovatium, commented, “We at Innovatium are delighted to be collaborating with Aggregate Industries and the University of Birmingham who are recognised global leaders in sustainability and technology, utilising BEIS  funding to enable the rapid commercialisation of our PRISMA technology. Following the successful initial deployment at Aggregate Industries’ Bardon Hill Quarry, we anticipate the demonstration of PRISMA’s energy efficiency and carbon reduction capability will show proven commercial and environmental benefits over current compressed air systems offering a cost saving alternative.”

During the 24 month project, BCES Director Professor Yulong Ding will lead a key work stream, developing a novel PCM and informing the design of a latent heat coolth store, two items both critical to the PRISMA system.

“PCMs can be used for the storage of both hot and cold forms of thermal energy. They [PCMs] are growing in importance but to-date, the focus has been on hot forms of thermal energy and technology deployment has taken place outside of UK. This new project focuses on cold forms of thermal energy storage, allowing us to establish a platform to deliver a first-of-a-kind system in the United Kingdom, with the potential to revolutionise the industrial energy space. There are a number of potential applications for the PCMs we are developing (-130 to -160C) including LNG cold recovery and also the use of cold as an energy vector for renewable energy transportation. They could also help to create a more compact and more efficient cold store for liquid air energy storage technology.”, said Professor Ding.

For more information about this project, please contact Omar Saeed

Notes to editors:

The IEEA is a funding programme designed to support partnerships between developers of energy efficient technologies and industrial companies willing to test technologies on-site. The programme is open to projects from all UK industry sectors that can demonstrate either a novel technology (targeting Technology Readiness Level 5-8), or the use of an established technology in a novel way. The BEIS IEEA will allow promising innovators to demonstrate their technology in an operational environment and increase confidence from potential users. The BEIS IEEA also provides forward-looking industrial companies with an opportunity to implement pioneering technologies with decreased risk and capital cost.