Liquid Air Processes for Energy Storage and Power – Grid & Transportation

A 19th-century idea might lead to cleaner cars, larger-scale renewable energy.


>”Highview Power’s process is 50 to 60 percent efficient—the liquid air can yield just over half as much electricity as it takes to make it. Batteries, by contrast, can be more than 90 percent efficient. But the new process can make up for its inefficiency by using waste heat from other processes (see “Audi to Make Fuel Using Solar Power”). Highview has demonstrated that low-temperature waste heat from power plants or even data centers can be used to help warm up the liquefied air. The system can also last for decades, while batteries typically need to be replaced every few years. This longevity could help reduce overall costs.

Several companies are developing ways to improve the efficiency of compressing air, which could also make the liquefaction process more efficient (see “LightSail Energy Snags $37M in Funding” and “Compressed-Air System Could Aid Wind Power”). Liquefied air is about four times more energy-dense than compressed air, and storing it at a large scale takes up less space.

Liquid air might also prove useful in cars and trucks. An inventor named Peter Dearman has made a compact system that, instead of relying on large heat exchangers, uses antifreeze injected into an engine’s combustion chamber to recycle heat that would otherwise be wasted. He built a ramshackle prototype and showed that it could power a car. Ricardo is working on a version that could eventually be commercialized.

Liquid air stores energy at about the density of nickel–metal hydride batteries and some lithium-ion batteries, the kind used in hybrid and electric cars now. But it has a key advantage—it can be poured into a fuel tank far faster than a battery can be recharged, says Andrew Atkins, a senior technologist at Ricardo. The engine would run on liquid nitrogen—basically liquid air with the oxygen removed—and would emit only nitrogen. The carbon emissions associated with the engine would depend on the power source used to liquefy the nitrogen.”<


Vanadium Battery New Entrant for Grid Energy Storage of Renewables

Renewable energy – solar and wind – works like a charm when the wind is blowing strongly enough to whip windmill blades into a frenzy, or the sun is baking down onto strategically-placed solar panels. The trouble, of course, is that the power they produce is intermittent. Wind has an annoying habit of dying down, as does the sun in hiding behind clouds.

Read more:


>"Another alternative has more recently come to the fore, with the technology originating from a metal most have never heard of: vanadium. Named after the Norse goddess of beauty, Vanadis, vanadium’s primary use is for strengthening steel. Dropping a bar of vanadium into a batch of steel allows the steelmaker to use 40 percent less material. The metal is also used in super alloys and in aerospace applications, which require 99.9 percent purity. Henry Ford used it in the first Model T.

Chemists have discovered another use for vanadium, one whose applications are far-reaching. When an electrical current is passed through two tanks of vanadium dissolved in sulfuric acid, it creates a type of rechargeable battery called a “vanadium redox battery”. The battery’s chief advantages are its stability – it can be recharged up to 20,000 times without losing performance, meaning a potential decades-long life – and it can be discharged while retaining nearly all of the vanadium electrolyte. Vanadium redox batteries are also scalable, meaning they offer nearly unlimited capacity by simply scaling up to larger storage tanks.

While the technology is still nascent and expensive, one company is charging ahead with ambitions to open the first vanadium mine in the United States and become the lynchpin of a new power storage market in North America.

American Vanadium plans to use vanadium mined from its Gibellini project in Nevada as feedstock for vanadium electrolyte used in vanadium flow batteries; last year the company showed the seriousness of its intentions by announcing a deal with Gildemeister AG. Under the agreement, American Vanadium will market and sell the German company’s CellCube redox flow battery, used to recharge electric vehicles and to store solar and wind power."<

Liquefied Air to Store Energy on U.K. Grid

Highview Power Storage lands grant to build commercial-scale liquid-air energy storage demonstration plant


>"U.K.-based Highview Power Storage last week said that it has been awarded an £8 million grant from the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change to build a commercial-scale facility that uses liquified air to store energy. Highview is already running a smaller pilot plant, but the full-scale version will be able to store enough energy to deliver five megawatts of power for three hours.  […]

Liquid air energy storage is similar to compressed air energy storage in that air is compressed and released to store and then generate power. WithHighview’s technology, though, ambient air is compressed, then cooled and liquified. That liquefied air, which is almost -200 °C, is stored in large tanks.

When power is needed, the liquid air is released and pumped to high pressure. That causes the liquid to evaporate, turning it into a high-pressure gas which is then run through a turbine to generate power. The planned demonstration plant will be located at a waste processing center. Heat from the waste plant’s gas turbines, which run on captured landfill methane, will be piped in to improve the efficiency of the evaporation process.

One of the advantages of liquid air storage is that it uses off-the-shelf equipment. The tanks for storing liquid air, for instance, are the same as those used in the industrial gas industry. Highview’s expertise is in engineering the different components into a working system with the highest possible efficiency. “Getting the supply chain right is really what our technology is all about. What we’re trying to do is get a system to work with widely available kit,” Brett says.

This commercial-scale plant also gives an indication of how much liquid-air energy storage costs. For 15 megawatt-hours of storage, it will cost about £533 (about $900) per kilowatt-hour. But Brett projects the economies of scale from a larger plant would allow Brightview to get the cost under $500 per kilowatt-hour. At that price, energy storage on the grid can be cost competitive with power plants for a number of applications, such as storing wind and solar energy for delivery during peak hours, say experts.

Highview’s plant will be used to relieve congestion on the grid. For example, stored energy can supply power to the local distribution grid when substations are maxed out during peak hours."<

Canadian green building market shows strong growth into future reported by CaGBC

The Canadian green building market has grown in the last few years and is expected to continue its strong growth in years to come, according to a recent report released by the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC).


>”The report projects the figure to grow in upcoming years and a shift to happen as firms ramp up their green projects to more than 60 per cent. The main factors triggering the green trend include companies wanting to do ‘the right thing’ when it comes to social and environmental responsibility.

“Doing the right thing was very important to a lot of the respondents, which surprised me…obviously the Canadian industry has a lot social consciousness” added Mueller.

Companies are also experiencing significant cost savings through various efficiencies.

Eighty two per cent of building owners and developers report decreases in energy consumption compared to similar buildings and 68 per cent of owners/developers report decreases in water consumption.

In Canada, businesses reduced their operating costs by 17 per cent through green buildings in 2014, ahead of the global average of 15 per cent in 2012.



The top sectors currently with green projects expected to be certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are, new institutional construction, new commercial construction, new low-rise residential, new mid and high-rise residential, and existing buildings/retrofit.

“In the public sector, the institutional sector, there’s a very strong commitment to build buildings to the LEED standard,” Mueller added. “Our focus is very much on building the LEED standard.”

Green Building is also beginning to build a strong business case for itself, according to the report.

Thirty seven per cent of owners project a spike in occupancy rates, 32 per cent expect improved tenant retention, 26 per cent expect improved lease rates and 13 per cent forecast a higher return on investment.

The median payback period for investment on a new green building is eight years, according to the report.

According to Mueller, owners and developers who are repeat green builders usually maintain a positive experience, but it’s the first timers that need to be shown the right steps in pursuing green building.

“If you’re an owner doing it for the first time, you have to be diligent, you have to be prudent to select the right consultants,” he said. “You have to do your due diligence and we certainly will be at the council to help first-time users to apply the LEED program and to make sure they have a positive experience.”<

Cost Effective ‘net zero’ energy in Jerseyville, Illinois subdivision

Lexington Farms, an affordable housing project of rental homes [built in Illinois].


>”Rooftop solar panels and wind turbines mounted over garages power all 32 homes at Lexington Farms, a new Jerseyville subdivision designed to provide residents no-cost electricity. […]

“Over the course of a year the solar array and wind turbines provide all the energy needed to power heating and air-conditioning systems, along with other household electricity needs,” said Jeff Lewis, president of MidAmerica Solar. “While similar technology has been used in homes, it hasn’t been done on this scale in an entire subdivision.” […]

Each home can produce up to 7.2 kilowatts of energy from roof-mounted solar panels.

Wind turbines mounted on masts over garages provide up to 1 kilowatt of additional energy. Lewis said tests were conducted to make sure the turbines’ vibrations were so slight as to be unnoticed by the homes’ occupants.

Ground-mounted solar panels at the subdivision’s entrance generate power for the community center.

Lexington Farms’ three-bedroom homes rent for $590 per month to families with incomes of $41,000 or less. The houses have central air conditioning, heat, hot water and other appliances that are powered by electricity generated by the solar panels and wind turbines.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority provided more than $2.5 million in assistance for the project, including federal low-income housing tax credits and federal stimulus money. Funding also came from a $260,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity and financing from Sterling Bank.

Included in the project are 16 streetlights that operate entirely off the electrical grid.

The streetlights, made by MidAmerica Solar, have their own wind turbines and solar panels that provide electricity to energy-efficient LED lights and a backup battery. The lights used to come from China. Now they come from a small factory in Affton.”<

High-tech firms target energy efficiency for long term investment

WASHINGTON — As President Obama pushes ahead on a strategy for confronting climate change that relies heavily on energy efficiency, some Americans may see flashbacks of Jimmy Carter trying to persuade them to wear an extra sweater and turn down the thermostat.


>"Long overshadowed by wind turbines, solar panels and other fashionable machines of renewable power, energy efficiency has lately become a hot pursuit for tech entrepreneurs, big-data enthusiasts and Wall Street speculators.

They have leveraged multibillion-dollar programs in several states, led by California and Massachusetts, to cultivate a booming industry. This onetime realm of scolds, do-gooders and bureaucrats has become the stuff of TED Talks, IPOs and spirited privacy debates.

"This is not about extra sweaters anymore," said Jon Wellinghoff, a San Francisco lawyer who formerly chaired the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Power companies are tapping databases to profile intensely the energy use of their customers, the way that firms like Target track customer product choices. Google Inc. spent $3.2 billion this year to buy Nest, a firm that makes thermostats that resemble iPhones and are designed to intuit the needs of their owners. Energy regulators are providing seed capital to start-ups building such things as waterless laundry machines.

"There was this notion that energy efficiency would never be sexy, never be something people wanted," said Ben Bixby, director of energy products at Nest, which has attracted employees from Apple Inc., Google and Tesla Motors Inc. to its base in Palo Alto.

"Nest has built this object of desire," he said.

On hot days, Nest’s technology enables Southern California Edison to precool the homes of customers before the evening rush, helping the utility avoid the need to fire up extra power plants and netting cash rebates for homeowners.

Spending on efficiency technologies and programs soared to $250 billion worldwide last year, according to the International Energy Agency. The agency projects that amount will more than double by 2035.

U.S. power companies have tripled their investment in efficiency programs — funded mainly through ratepayer fees — since 2006, with California spending the most per customer."<

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Buildings are biggest source of GHG’s in Vancouver & City recommends Energy Retrofits

Buildings spew more than half of all Vancouver’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions every year and detached houses are the biggest culprit […] That fact is key to a staff recommendation that council adopt an energy retrofit strategy for existing buildings to drastically cut GHG emissions.


>”About 40,000 of Vancouver’s 77,000 detached homes were built before 1960. The report said most older homes could improve their energy efficiency with weather sealing, wall and attic insulation, furnace/boiler/hot water heater replacements and replacing old windows with new energy-efficient glazing.

About 55 per cent of GHG emissions in Vancouver come from buildings and of those detached homes create 31 per cent of building emissions, the report said.

That compares with industry’s 20-per-cent share and 18 per cent from multi-unit residential buildings.

The city’s Greenest City Action Plan has targeted a 20-per-cent reduction in GHG emissions from Vancouver buildings by 2020, which would eliminate 160,000 tonnes of emissions annually — the equivalent of taking 40,000 cars off the road.

The report recommends the city partner with BC Hydro and/or FortisBC to study the effectiveness of using thermal imaging to identify poorly insulated homes.


… common energy-efficient building practices today include using vinyl or wood window frames instead of aluminum, along with the use of heat pumps, solar panels and drainwater recovery systems.

But Kerchum noted it can cost nothing to improve a home’s energy efficiency.


A recent Vancouver city initiative to improve energy efficiency in Vancouver homes — the Home Energy Loan Program — had a very low participation rate among homeowners.

The program called for homeowners to have an energy audit by a federally licensed auditor, who would recommend the best ways to reduce a home’s carbon footprint.”<