Aggregate Industries teams up to develop PRISMA liquid air energy storage system

  • 5 Feb 2019

A consortium which includes Aggregate Industries has recently secured Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) funding for an industry-first application of liquid air energy storage (LAES) energy efficiency technology under the government’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) programme.

As well as Aggregate Industries, the consortium comprises Innovatium and the University of Birmingham. The IEEA programme, administered by the Carbon Trust on behalf of BEIS, will provide over £350,000 of government funding to the consortium to deliver the new compressed air system. This comes as part of the government’s drive to bring new energy efficiency technologies to market through industrial demonstration partnerships.

PRISMA (Peak Reduction by Integrated Storage and Management of Air) by Innovatium is an innovative LAES technology that stores energy in liquid air form to provide compressed air, allowing inefficient partially-loaded, variable-demand compressors to be turned off, thus improving the total system efficiency by up to 57%.

The PRISMA system will bring together an innovative latent energy cold storage tank, filled with a phase change material (PCM) to store thermal energy, and a number of other off-the-shelf components to form a system that will work with Aggregate Industries’ existing compressed air network. The integration of the equipment and components in an industrial setting, for the provision of compressed air, has never been attempted before.

The system will be installed at Aggregate Industries’ Bardon Hill quarry in Leicestershire. Richard Eaton, Energy Manager at Aggregate Industries, comments: “Supporting energy efficiency and carbon reduction innovations is at the heart of our renewed energy strategy. The PRISMA project and LAES is a key part of this approach and is something that we are passionate about. The project will help to address the ‘energy trilemma’ of managing energy efficiency, energy cost and energy security by; significantly improving the energy efficiency of our compressed air system; managing electricity costs by running the compressors out-of-hours, when electricity is cheaper; and helping to smooth and reduce the peak electrical demand on site. We are therefore very excited to be the first industrial partner to install the PRISMA system at our Bardon Hill quarry in Leicestershire.”

The 24-month project will involve the development of the PCM at the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemical Engineering as well as the design, manufacture and assembly of multiple system components by Innovatium before installation of the system at Bardon Hill.

This new project focuses on cold forms of thermal energy storage, rather than hot forms, which focus has mostly been on until now. The PRISMA Project has currently only been deployed in a simulated environment and is said to be at ‘Technology Readiness Level 5’ (TRL5), in terms of the development and commercialisation of the technology. The funding provided through the IEEA will take the PRISMA system to ‘proven deployment in an operational environment’ (TRL7) – a crucial step towards full commercialisation of the technology.

Following the successful delivery of the project, this scalable technology has multi-sectoral applications for compressed air systems both in the UK and globally. In the UK, the compressed air market is estimated at 1.3 GW of installed electrical capacity across c.4,500 sites and over 55,000 individual compressor units.

Simon Branch, CEO and CoFounder at Innovatium, comments: “Following the successful initial deployment at Aggregate Industries’ Bardon Hill Quarry, we anticipate the demonstration of PRISMAs energy efficiency and carbon reduction capability will show proven commercial and environmental benefits over current compressed air systems offering a cost-saving alternative.”

Visit the Aggregate Industries website

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