The world's first large scale composite Phase Change Material demonstration plant for curtailed wind power

Professor Yulong Ding, Director of Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage

A UK-China collaborative project led Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage (BCES), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), UK Research and Innovation China (UKRI China), has led to the successful commercial demonstration pilot using composite Phase Change Material in Chinese region of Xinjiang.

These Phase Change Materials are substances that absorb and release thermal energy during the process of melting and freezing. The materials recharge as everyday temperatures fluctuate, making them ideal for a variety of everyday applications that require temperature control.

EPSRC reported that building this pilot Phase Change Material plant in one of the windiest regions in China has utilised wind energy that would have otherwise been wasted. This wind energy is converted into heat for 60,000m2 of space, harnessing 10,000KWh of wind power and reduced the environmental impact of the energy system to the equivalent of ~1200 tons of coal per year.

With such excellent results, this pilot scale demonstration plant has proven a feasible model for large-scale low carbon heating with effective integration of wind farms. Applications for the UK are considerable, for example in Scotland, where rich wind resources could help to address heating needs that form a very large portion of overall national energy consumption.

Professor Yulong Ding, director of BCES, who led the research said: “This sets an excellent example of turning fundamental research into applications and we look forward to the technology being taken up in the UK and beyond”.

To find out more about this pilot Phase Change Material plant please visit the EPSRC blog. https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/blog/the-renewables-conundrum/

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • BCES: The Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage (BCES) brings together research expertise from across the University to drive innovation from the laboratory to market. The Centre recognises how energy storage, particularly thermal and cryogenic energy based technologies, coupled with appropriate policy, could play an important role in delivering an integrated energy system.
  • EPSRC: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change.
  • UKRI China: UK Research and Innovation’s office in the British Embassy in Beijing facilitates the development of UK-China joint research and innovation programmes. It provides on-the-ground insight and experience working in China’s rapidly-changing research and innovation landscape, and boosts the visibility of UK excellence in science and innovation in a highly competitive market through coordinated outreach and stakeholder engagement.