They develop a system that uses rocks to store energy

almacenar energía

Inspenet, October 31, 2023.

Engineers at Sandia National Laboratories are collaborating with CSolPower LLC to develop an affordable method to store energy from renewable sources. The goal of this partnership is to move towards generating electricity from solar and wind energy without carbon emissions .

The project aims to develop the technology and bring it to a point where it is possible to use wind and photovoltaic energy sources to charge the storage system. This system consists of rocks arranged in a bed that can be heated or cooled using air to store thermal energy. The researchers say gravel available from landscaping companies can be used effectively for this system, without requiring an extensive cleaning or preparation process.

At the National Solar Thermal Test Facility, Sandia Laboratories has designed a 100 kilowatt-hour test bed to evaluate bedrock performance. Photovoltaic panels have been installed and upgraded to demonstrate the bed loading process using an intermittent power source.

“One of the advantages of rock thermal energy storage is that it can be built anywhere and does not require extensive permitting. We believe it can be implemented faster and cheaper than other approaches,” says Walter Gerstle, co-founder of CSolPower.

Store energy at low cost

“Reducing the cost of this thermal energy storage system or energy storage systems in general increases the potential to deploy these systems in industry and increases the probability of adopting renewable energy,” says Nathan Schroeder, mechanical engineer. from Sandia.

The technology developed by CSolPower focuses on long-term energy storage, which implies the ability to provide energy storage spanning hours to months. During testing, the system was charged with air at temperatures exceeding 500 degrees Celsius and maintained this temperature for a period of up to 20 hours.

The system successfully went through charge and discharge cycles, thus supporting the predictions and models that had been previously formulated. According to the laboratory, testing of the prototype will last until June 2024.

If the current testing phase is successful, several greenhouses in northern New Mexico could employ bedrock for thermal energy storage. Although CSolPower aims to deploy its technology for large-scale storage in utilities, the company plans to start with a small-scale deployment.

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