A pilot project takes advantage of heat-storing alloys for long-term thermal storage from renewables
Spotted: Energy cannot efficiently be stored for very long – and it is expensive to store it far from where it is produced. This is why, as the world transitions to sources of energy that are generated intermittently (such as solar and wind), the need for better energy storage solutions has risen to the forefront. Australian startup MGA Thermal has developed what it hopes will be a revolutionary new method for efficient storage of renewably generated energy.
MGA’s technology uses a new type of thermal storage material, called Miscibility Gap Alloys (MGA). These are capable of safely storing a huge amount of energy as heat. The company manufactures MGA blocks that contain particles of tiny metal alloys, dispersed in a matrix material. As the blocks are heated (using renewable sources), energy is absorbed and the particles melt. At the same time, the matrix material remains solid and holds the molten particles in place. When the blocks cool, the energy is released.
The company has recently received funding from Shell to build a pilot project that will demonstrate steam generation from the blocks. The pilot plant, which will only be around 12 metres by 3 metres in size, has a planned storage capacity of five megawatt-hours. The project will gather data to validate the efficacy of using the blocks as mid-to-long-term thermal storage in a practical system.
Energy innovators have their sights firmly set on developing much more efficient storage systems. Springwise has recently spotted several of these systems, including an iron-air battery and a salt battery small enough to use in electric vehicles.
Written By: Lisa Magloff