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This New Battery Will Store Excess Wind Power Using the Air Itself

Wind farms simply aren’t reliable sources of steady power, which is why many rely on enormous battery systems to store excess current for times when the wind isn’t gusting enough to meet our energy demands. Problem is—the production of these batteries is itself a drain on resources. So what if, instead of lithium and metal hydride batteries, wind farms could just store energy using the same air that spins the propellers?

It’s called Liquid Air Storage, a process developed by Peter Dearman, a Hertfordshire garage inventor and head of The Dearman Engine Company. The technology was initially intended to power electric vehicles. With the realization that the technology could be used for green energy storage, Dearman created a new company, Highview Power Storage, to further develop the idea in conjunction with the UK government. A test system has been successfully trialed at the Slough, Berkshire power station for the past two years.

The HPS system relies on “wrong-time” electricity—the stuff produced when demand is low, like at night. A portion of this energy runs chillers that first suck in ambient air. The chillers remove any CO2 and water vapor, then freeze the remaining gas (mostly nitrogen) to a cryogenic state at -190-degrees C. At this temperature, the nitrogen reverts to a liquid form. This is the actual energy sequestration process. Then, it must be stored in specially-insulated flasks.

When energy demands outpace the power currently being generated, these flasks can be attached to turbines, opened, and heated. The rapid expansion of Nitrogen from a liquid to gaseous state generates tremendous pressure to spin the turbine. What’s more, adjusting the amount of heat applied to the tank moderates the speed of the expanding gas without the need for complicated control systems. HPS systems representatives estimate the cost per kilowatt could be as low as $1,000
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