Liquid air is a proven energy storage technology that could play a critical role in Britain’s low carbon energy future, according to a major new report from business and academic experts.

The use of liquid air could increase UK energy security, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and create a storage industry worth at least £1bn pa and 22,000 jobs, the report found.

The news comes as the report is officially launched today at the Liquid Air Energy Conference in London, UK.

Published by the Centre for Low Carbon Futures (CLCF), the report concludes that liquid air technologies could also significantly increase the efficiency of road vehicles, particularly in Britain’s fleets of buses, vans and refrigerated lorries.

Liquid Air is a pioneering solution to the problem of energy storage, which captures ‘wrong time’ energy – such as excess renewable energy produced at night when there is too little demand – and storing it to provide peak time electricity and/or low carbon transport fuel. It can be used in proven grid-scale energy storage systems (Highview Power Storage has been running a pilot plant hosted by SSE in Slough for two years) and a number of novel engine designs.

The Dearman Engine is a piston engine that runs on liquid air, with a commercial demonstration engine is currently being built with Ricardo. Meanwhile, the Ricardo split-cycle engine is a highly efficient diesel design that uses liquid nitrogen to capture heat from its own exhaust. Liquid air technologies require no rare or expensive materials such as lithium or platinum.

“Solving Britain’s energy crisis requires better ways to store the power of the wind and the sun at large-scale without relying on scarce natural resources, and liquid air provides a missing piece of that puzzle”

Professor Richard Williams, OBE

“Solving Britain’s energy crisis requires better ways to store the power of the wind and the sun at large-scale without relying on scarce natural resources, and liquid air provides a missing piece of that puzzle,” said Professor Richard Williams OBE, Pro-Vice Chancellor University of Birmingham, who led the report for CLCF.

But Williams added, “We have an opportunity, and growing need, to scale-up our investment in technologies that will ensure the energy from renewables is not wasted, and the opportunities for the UK industrial sector are not lost. The Government is investing to give academic and business communities the chance to lead the world and develop new technologies and industries that can benefit the UK.”

“Liquid air should be part of that effort; as the CLCF report published today shows its a prime example of a technology that has the potential to deliver a more efficient energy system and bring the benefits of green growth to the UK.”

Williams is currently opening the Liquid Air Energy Conference and encouraged, “Through our report, this conference today, we invite policy makers, the research community and private sector to consider our recommendations, join in the evidence gathering and debate, and build on the work already underway.”