Engineers create bricks that store thermal energy

Inspenet, April 25, 2023

Engineers at the University of Newcastle , Australia, developed an energy storage system made from blocks that store thermal energy. Specifically, these are 30x20x16 centimeter bricks made of high thermal conductivity materials, which could easily be heated to store energy and cooled to release it later.

The solution, the scientists explain, can be retrofitted to disused power plants or introduced into active plants to help them switch from fossil fuels to renewables.

The goal of this initiative is to use these units to store excess electricity during peak production periods or install them at other power plants to recycle waste heat. In this way, the thermal energy they release can be used to heat water and drive steam turbines, without having to burn another fuel.

According to what its creators explain, these blocks can be stacked, so they can be added or removed to increase or decrease the size of the system. In addition, they are made of cheap, abundant and non-toxic materials. Initial estimates suggest they should cost 10% of the price of a lithium battery of the same size, providing the same amount of power.

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Engineers create bricks that store thermal energy

MGA Thermal builds the energy future one brick at a time with support from Shell

Developed by Newcastle University, a “miscibility gap alloy” approach to thermal energy storage and heat delivery to generate electricity is being commercialized by company MGA Thermal .

The company recently received roughly $560,000 worth of backing through Shell ‘s accelerator program, which the startup says will speed the completion of a pilot project.

MGA Thermal’s pilot is located at its factory in Tomago, NSW, has a budget of USD 3 million and aims to collect data on “and provide a tangible demonstration of the technology for potential energy and industrial customers”. The data refers to the loading and unloading behaviour, fluid dynamics and temperature distributions in a system using MGA bricks.

Shell GameChanger’s Matt McDonald said in a statement that MGA was chosen from dozens of applicants after a call went out for long-duration energy storage solutions.

Funding is worth $400,000 for the project, which previously received $1.27 million from the federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), announced in October last year. The pilot is expected to go online this year.

Source: -from-shell

Photo : MGA Thermal

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