Batteries made from aluminium and volcanic rock can store solar energy as heat, reducing energy costs for manufacturers
Spotted: Heat is crucial for many manufacturing processes. However, generating that heat is also emissions-intensive, with industry responsible for 30 per cent of all of the UK’s heating-related greenhouse gas emissions. One solution is the use of renewable sources, like solar, but this is an intermittent energy source and is not always available when it is needed. To solve this problem, British startup Caldera has developed a new type of heat storage system.
Caldera’s system includes a solar array of almost any size. The solar power is stored as heat, using novel storage cells made of an aluminium-volcanic rock composite encased in vacuum insulation. These highly efficient modular cells are rapidly heated to 500 degrees Celsius and can store this energy for hours, ready to deliver heat on demand at temperatures between 80 to 200 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature range needed for many industrial processes.
The cells can deliver heat whenever required, allowing businesses to substitute on-site solar for more expensive, and non-renewable, gas and electricity. As Caldera explained, the system allows industrial players to capitalise on affordable and abundant solar energy, which can be generated on-site or nearby, and stored until it’s ready to be used.
In June of this year, Caldera was awarded £4.3 million (around €4.9 million) from the UK Department for Energy Security & Net Zero to build a full-scale demonstrator of the system.
Heat storage is a focus of a number of recent innovations spotted by Springwise, including using scrap aluminium to transport heat and hydrogen and a storage system that captures waste energy for reuse.
Written By: Lisa Magloff