Inspenet, August 15, 2023.
The search for alternative options to battery adoption has grown and one of the most promising is thermal storage blocks , which are in the early stages of production.
Australian company MGA Thermal has confirmed that it has the necessary funds to establish its first manufacturing plant. This production line will have the capacity to manufacture more than 1,000 blocks per day, which is equivalent to 1 MWh per day .
Thermal Storage Blocks: What are they made of?
These blocks are composed of two main elements: graphite and aluminum . The metallic component has a melting point around 660°C, a temperature below the maximum for the system during the charge and discharge cycle. One of the elements is cast to retain large amounts of energy when heated, while the other acts as a support structure, maintaining the block’s solid shape and encapsulating the molten particles.
In the discharge process, the heat stored in the MGA bricks is transferred to the water that flows through the steam generators. These generators produce steam with the appropriate properties so that existing steam turbines can take advantage of it and generate electricity, starting turbines and generators.
In this way, during the hours of less electricity demand, such as at night, these blocks are recharged with surplus energy from renewable sources. Once the system is loaded, it begins to release stored heat to generate power during periods of high demand.
In addition to being environmentally friendly , this system has an exceptionally long lifespan and, according to its designers, can repeat the heating and cooling process thousands of times. This is achieved thanks to the fact that all the components are housed in a structure that is thermally isolated from the external environment and the space is filled with nitrogen to prevent oxidation.
In addition to these positive aspects, another advantage compared to batteries is their high resistance to heat , which allows them to be installed in larger quantities without the risk of fire.
Undoubtedly, one of its most outstanding points lies in its ability to be seamlessly integrated into existing coal-fired power plants. This feature will go a long way to preserving jobs at these plants, which often raise concerns in the region when considering their closure. This will become more and more frequent due to the decrease in the competitiveness of coal and the pressure of measures to combat climate change.
The company is in the process of commissioning the first demonstration production line at its headquarters in Tomago, New South Wales. This installation will serve as an example to confirm the feasibility and effectiveness of a thermal energy storage system in terms of its scalability and operation.
According to their designers “These TES systems can store millions of kWh of energy in a more economical and durable way compared to other solutions. An array of 3,700 blocks in our demo unit, about the size of a shipping container, stores enough energy to power more than 135 homes for 24 hours”.