Highview Power Storage will cosponsor a research chair with the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), at the world’s first research centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage at the University of Birmingham.

The five-year research chair will be appointed under the leadership of Professor Yulong Ding, the newly appointed Highview Power Storage Royal Academy Chamberlain Chair in Energy Storage.

Highview has teamed up with RAEng, to create and fund the new Chair to explore this emerging technology, which has the potential to support the balancing of electricity networks and thereby help drive the development of intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Highview’s LAES functions by using excess or off-peak energy to draw in ambient air from the environment where it is cleaned, compressed and then refrigerated to subzero temperatures until it liquefies; 700 litres of ambient air becomes 1 litre of liquid air. The liquid air can be stored in an insulated storage tank at low pressure for extended periods of time without significant losses. When power is required, liquid air is drawn from the tank(s), pumped to high pressure and heated. This process produces a high-pressure gas, which is then used to drive a turbine, which drives the generator to produce electricity.

The LAES technology can integrate waste heat/cold from industrial processes increasing the system’s overall efficiency.

Gareth Brett, Chief Executive Officer of Highview Power Storage, explained, “The UK has a long history in the cryogenics industry and now has the opportunity to develop a solution for one of the world’s toughest problems, how to store energy at large scale.”

“Our system uses readily available components from mature industrial supply chains, and has no geographical constraints, meaning it can be deployed anywhere in the world. This is important as electricity networks are now focused on resolving the challenges of integrating larger levels of intermittent renewable generation, with storage playing a major role. California has already set a mandate for utilities to procure more than 1.3GW of storage by 2020.”

To support Professor Yulong Ding in his work as the new Chair of Cryogenic Energy Storage Engineering, Highview will relocate its 350kW/2.5MWh LAES pilot plant to Birmingham.

Talking about his plans for the new chair, Professor Ding said, “My research will cover, in an integrated manner, materials, thermodynamic processes and cycles, storage component and devices, system integration and optimisation, and applications of cryogenic energy storage. The eventual goal of my work is to keep the UK’s leading edge in the area of cryogenic energy storage and to facilitate industrial applications of the technology.”