Liquid air as a form of energy storageOctober 11, 2012
Energy storage may have been solved by one intrepid inventor
Storing energy has become a significant problem in the world of clean energy. Typically, batteries are used to store the excess electricity generated by a clean energy system. While batteries are able to store energy, they are not capable of doing this efficiently, meaning much of the electricity that is meant to be stored ends up going to waste. Scientists interested in clean energy have been attempting to solve this problem for years, but have yet to find an efficient solution. One independent inventor from Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom could have solved the problem of energy storage.
Peter Dearman unlocks the potential of liquid air
Peter Dearman is a so called “garage inventor” that developed an engine that would run on liquid nitrogen. Dearman’s concept is simple, but the implications associated with such a system have proven to be vast, especially in regards to energy storage. As such, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in the UK have adopted the system and have begun working on a variation. Engineers have successfully created a system that can cool air until it becomes a liquid, allowing this liquid to serve as an effective energy storage medium.
Energy storage system uses potential energy
The system does not store electrical power like a battery. Rather, it stores potential energy. Air is cooled within the system to the point where its nitrogen components become a liquid. This liquid is stored in a vacuum container, allowing it to maintain its state for long periods of time. When the need for energy arises, the liquid is allowed to warm. As the liquid reaches an ambient temperature, it begins to vaporize, creating pressure. Engineers have developed a method to warm liquid air at a fast rate, effectively creating a form of steam engine based on the concept Dearman developed.
Liquid air could be an effective means of backup power
This form of energy storage is innovative in that it does not actually store electricity. The potential benefits of such a system could be profound if it is used as a form of backup energy for larger power systems, like wind turbines. This type of energy storage is also efficient, as it does not waste the resources that it uses to generate power. Instead, the air used in the system is recycled and cooled so that it can be continuously used.