Energy storage news: 30.04.14

PNNL has released a video demonstrating two novel approaches to vanadium redox flow battery storage. Photo courtesy: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

PNNL has released a video of two novel approaches to vanadium redox flow battery energy storage. Photo courtesy: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The main energy storage news stories from our Twitter feed this week.

  • LightSail, the compressed air energy storage company funded by Khosla and Bill Gates, has made about 15% of its staff redundant.

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CAES site in Washington state?

Yakima – the proposed location for a new CAES site.

Yakima – the proposed location for a new CAES site. Photo credit: Abhinaba Basu

Days after SustainX’s announcement of a new compressed air energy storage (CAES) project comes the news that another site is being considered for a more conventional form of the technology. A layer of porous rock below the Yakima River Canyon could be ideal for storing the vast quantities of compressed gas needed, reports the Yakima Herald.
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New routes to compressed air storage

Enough Northwest US wind energy to power about 85,000 homes each month could be stored in porous rocks deep underground for later use, according to a new study. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration have identified two unique methods for this energy storage approach, and two eastern Washington locations to put them into practice.

The world’s two existing compressed air energy storage plants (one in Alabama, the other in Germany) use man-made salt caverns to store excess electricity. The study examined a different approach: using natural, porous rock reservoirs that are deep underground to store renewable energy. Analysis identified two particularly promising locations in eastern Washington.

One could access a nearby natural gas pipeline, making it a good fit for a conventional compressed air energy facility. The other, however, doesn’t have easy access to natural gas. So the research team devised a hybrid facility would extract geothermal heat from deep underground to power a chiller that would cool the facility’s air compressors, making them more efficient. Geothermal energy would re-heat the air as it returns to the surface.

A new type of vanadium redox flow batteries

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a US government facility, claims to have developed new batteries that have significantly enhanced storage compared with that of conventional vanadium redox units. In addition to boosting energy density, the new batteries can operate across a wider range of temperatures. These improvements are chiefly down to the addition of hydrochloric acid to the electrolyte, which is conventionally just sulphuric acid.

PNNL has licenced the technology to UniEnergy Technologies LLC, which is now developing the tax-payer-funded technology to create a commercially viable solution.