Study points to PCM breakthrough

Research from TermoFluids and the Tesconsol consortium may provide a breakthrough in the use of phase-change material for thermal energy storage in concentrated solar power plants. Photo credit: KIC InnoEnergy

Research from TermoFluids and the Tesconsol consortium may result in the breakthrough of phase-change material for thermal energy storage in CSP plants. Photo: KIC InnoEnergy

The case for using phase-change materials (PCMs) for thermal energy storage is being bolstered through research using a modelling technique out this year.

The technique, developed by a team in Catalonia, Spain, has uncovered a PCM tank approach that could theoretically allow up to 74% of stored thermal energy to be returned from storage.

It might also reduce the amount of storage material needed in solar thermal plants by 32% compared to traditional two-tank molten salt systems, CSP Today reports.

The approach, called multi-layered solid PCM (MLSPCM), works by using two PCM layers separated vertically by a layer of filler materials such as cheap, readily available granite or quartzite.

The filler keeps the top and bottom PCM layers close to their optimum discharging and charging temperatures, respectively. Overall, the amount of PCM material needed would be much less than in a PCM-only setup, which should help reduce costs.

And since each PCM layer is kept close to its optimum charge or discharge temperature, the efficiency of the system is increased.
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Checking up on the storage start-up scene

We review the energy storage investment opportunities offered by startups at KIC InnoEnergy Business Booster Barcelona – including Atawey, which has developed a hydrogen fuel cell system targeted at mobile base stations with McPhy Energy.

The energy storage investment opportunities offered at KIC InnoEnergy Business Booster Barcelona included Atawey’s hydrogen fuel cell system, developed with McPhy Energy. Photo credit: Atawey

What companies would you put your money in if you were a clean-tech angel investor looking to back an energy storage start-up? With plenty of young businesses out there crying for cash, it is not like you would be stuck for choice.

But, as Energy Storage Report found out last week at the KIC InnoEnergy Business Booster in Barcelona, selecting a winner is not that easy… because there are so many good ideas to choose from.

The Business Booster was a two-day event where start-ups from a range of energy-related fields set out to woo an audience including nine angel investors and three venture capital firms. Five electricity storage hopefuls took the stage during the event.

Enerstone, of France, opened the storage track with a pitch for an ingenious battery management system that extends lifetimes and cycle rates by adjusting the draw on each cell to lessen the impact of weaker cells.
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