Has Institute of Mechanical Engineers found stored renewable energy in liquid air?

We may soon know the answer to this  – through a plant being built in Slough in Buckinghamshire to pilot the effectiveness of a process that freezes air to -190, at which point it liquefies.

When the liquid is warmed, it expands fast into a gas, creating pressure that can power a piston engined car or drive a turbine.

This innovation solves one major issue in energy storage – it stores in what is effectively a compressed f0rm.

Storage systems for energy are mission critical if we are to avoid the brown outs now openly predicted for 2015 onwards, with our insufficient spare energy capacity.

This invention is both a source and a storage system. The experts seem both sanguine and excited by this potential.

There is no mention yet of the specifi8c risks involved in this process. They will exist and their sources can be intuited.

Why aren’t we funding science and engineering qualifications and research at the expense of many others? With limited resources, there is every reason for this sort of strategic deployment of what we have.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • LinkedIn
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Ma.gnolia
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • SphereIt
  • Reddit
  • Slashdot
  • Print

5 Responses to Has Institute of Mechanical Engineers found stored renewable energy in liquid air?

  1. Why aren’t we funding science and engineering qualifications and research at the expense of many others? With limited resources, there is every reason for this sort of strategic deployment of what we have.

    Several reasons:
    1)Engineering, as with most vocational subjects, is more expensive to teach than the social sciences and the arts.
    2)Engineers are notable by their absence in either chamber of Parliament.
    3)Engineers are paid poorly in the UK a)compared to engineers elsewhere in europe b)compared to other professions; medicine, law, accountancy, etc.
    4)A worrying portion of the populace think an engineer is the overall-clad technician who services their boiler or changes the oil in their car; point 3 may be linked to this. Anybody can call themselves an engineer and charge money for services rendered; try that in medicine or law and you won’t be doing it for long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Agree on all points.
      We’re never going to get anywhere if we don’t prioritise financial support for the best courses in the sciences and in the various engineering disciplines and for the best students to take these courses.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • The potential efficiencies being touted are impressive but conservation efficiency isn’t the only factor in play: there is also the question of energy density: how much volume do you need for the compression/reheating apparatus and the associated stored gas? It is likely that you could not use the same turbines that are producing the original electricity to recover the stored energy so, for gas, coal and nuclear sites you would need separate turbines, adding to cost and space requirements. This, of course doesn’t apply to renewables such as wind and wave or to situations where electricity from conventional sites is transmitted to a separate site for storage.

      It is certainly a promising technology and it will be interesting to see how the numbers stack up. However, previous attempts at energy storage using compressed air have come to naught in the face of the space and energy density issues.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • The novelty is using cryogenics to allow isothermal operation; this permits very high efficiencies, theoretically 100% and practically well over 90%. The wikipedia page gives a good introduction to it.

      As Doc points out the main issue is what the cost of a working plant will be and how big a site will be needed.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


All the latest comments (including yours) straight to your mailbox, everyday! Click here to subscribe.