The latest enviro project

Pioneering ‘liquid air’ project can help store excess electricity
Scheme in north-west England could aid grids as wind and solar power grows

OK, sounds interesting. Use of peak ‘leccie to liquefy and compress air, releasing it at peak demand times to drive a turbine. Worth trying, why not?

Brett admitted the liquid air process is less efficient than storing electricity in batteries

Ah, that’s why not, because it’s a crap method.

54 comments on “The latest enviro project

  1. All this cr*p because people think a trace (400 parts per million) and minority (water vapour is much more prevalent) ‘greenhouse’ gas is controlling our climate when all we have really detected is that it is helping to green the planet. I don’t know if anyone here can see a slight difference between a greenhouse (glass roof enclosure, hint, hint) and the earth’s atmosphere.

    400 million years ago with 10x the CO2 we currently have we were in an ice age.

    The only reason we believe this rubbish is because politically motivated social engineers say so. There is no evidence. None. Zilch. There are computer models adapted from another field that are so simple compared to our chaotic weather/climate that we can’t see more than 10 days ahead but can see 100 years ahead.

    Look back at all the effing predictions and find me ONE which has come true: ONE.

    We have thrown away the economic future of Europe (Australia the macho country par excellence too) pouring billions into solutions to a non-problem, many of which make the so-say problem worse independently of the cost.

    D*ckheads everyone!

  2. “Less efficient” but “does not degrade”.

    Presumably the process will become more efficient over time and as it scales up but it will retain its advantages over batteries. If so, this might be a very useful technology.

  3. Agree, efficiency of power conversion is only one measure. Cost is the other important factor and large batteries are expensive and deteriorate. Plus of course the environmental impact of extracting, refining and shipping all those chemicals probably is greater than the carbon they may save (but don’t tell the leccy car fans that).

  4. “Presumably the process will become more efficient over time and as it scales up but it will retain its advantages over batteries. If so, this might be a very useful technology.”

    Err, ye cannae break the laws of physics.

    PV=nRT

    Every time you compress or decompress gas, you’re moving massive amounts of heat around, a large proportion of which (possibly almost all of it) will be wasted energy. This is massively inefficient, and a mind-garglingly stupid idea.

    Pump storage is a much more sensible idea since you don’t have this massive heat transfer issue, only pump/turbine/frictional losses to worry about. This air-based idea has all that PLUS a massive element in the room in the form of the T in that equation.

  5. … but “does not degrade”

    Not really. Liquid air evaporates rather willingly. It costs quite a lot of energy to keep it liquid as well as to make it liquid in the first place. Think of it as a battery with rather a large self-discharge rate.

  6. Oil is a good battery proxy. So is coal. Both have the benefit of abundance, plus an existing infrastructure to handle it.

  7. ‘Worth trying, why not?’

    Because it advances the belief that wind/solar power are possible.

    How stupid is wind/solar power? People are talking about compressing air with it. This is testament to its lameness.

    But it does show greenies have a sense of humor. Wind/solar power are grossly inadequate, yet greens talk about how to save the EXCESS! “We’re gonna have so much of this stuff, we need to find a way to store the extra.”

  8. Efficiency is not the sine que non here, since the energy it would store would otherwise be thrown away. Pumped storage is far more efficient but is eye wateringly expensive. Nor is it a form of long term storage, since it’s use case is more a replacement for diesel genset based STOR.

    However, as per the other comments, the real market failure here is that despatchable power sources like nuclear, gas etc are directly compared to wind and solar, which are not despatchable. To make them so, you will require very large quantities of storage of one source or another, or an acceptance that the power may go off at any random time. Greenies like to pretend that the first is possible while actually planning for the second

  9. Just to put how stupid the physics behind this is in layman’s terms.

    OK, so we take excess electricity and we compress the air with a pump (which heats it up, massively so – this is how a diesel engine works without a spark), so we then have to cool it down (with another electrical pump running a refrigeration system) to get that heat out of it to liquefy it. Alternatively, we could just run one pump to do lower pressure liquification by compressing, cooling and then letting it expand back to atm pressure, which is also massively inefficient and you’ve got to pump away the liquid air and store it cryogenically.

    We then leave it sitting around in an expensive and extremely large pressure vessel (how big?) until we need it, at which point we let it out and run it through a turbine. At this point, we want it as warm as possible, and the more we let out the colder it gets, so the less efficient the conversion back to work in the turbine is. We’re talking “ice forming on pipes in the desert” quantities of heat being moved here.

    I’d be amazed if you could actually get more than 10% of the electrical energy you put in back out as electrical energy at the end.

  10. I stand second to none, well perhaps second to abacab in my contempt for all things pseudo-Green, but I have a soft spot for these sorts of technologies. Wikipedia has a moderately good page on compressed air storage and there are working schemes around the world:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compressed_air_energy_storage

    And a better page with many good links on compressed air vehicles:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compressed-air_vehicle

    I am assuming the 1879 compressed-air-powered airplane did not work. The use I am more familiar with is compressed air trains. Often used in shunting yards where sparks would be a bad idea. Munitions factories for instance. Still some at work;

    There are two places in Indonesia where fireless locomotives can be found in working condition. The first one is Semboro sugar mill in Jember , East Java[12]. Their presence is needed due to risk of fire posed by flammable materials like sugarcane bagasse. Both locos were built by Orenstein & Koppel in Germany in 1928 and 1929 respectively[13]. As in 2017, both locos are still used for shunting inside the mill’s complex[14]. The second one is Pagottan sugar mill in Madiun, also in East Java. These Luttermöller axle locomotives, numbered 6, 7, and 8 respectively; were originally conventional steam locomotives who feature fireboxes. But due to closure of field lines, as well as money saving measure by mill’s management, they were converted to fireless configuration in 2011[15].
    Switzerland

    Switzerland had used older fireless engines in industry, such as breweries. In 2010, the steam company Dampflokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik DLM refurbished two locomotives of the German Meiningen type and modernised them for use on sidings.

    I don’t supposed we have a Bloke in Indonesia, but is anyone close to this Swiss company?

    People used to have networks of compressed air and more usefully hydraulic power networks using compressed water in the past. I believe the last British hydraulic system closed in the late 1970s.

  11. abacab,

    The problem would presumably be lesser without the phase change, but need rather larger vessels. It might have some niche application somewhere, especially places which don’t have conveniently-located mountains.

  12. The surplus power could be used to lower the salinity of the sea. Doesn’t have to desalinate it completely, just any lowering of it would achieve a net carbon capture effect from what I’ve read.
    Storage mechanisms for energy ( coal, gas, Uranium ore ) are already covered by nature anyway

  13. abacab: this an idea from a couple of years back from the IMechE. I think they said the thermal efficiency was around 25%, which compares to 40-47% for coal and 60-64% for combined cycle gas turbines.

  14. OFFS! Any one uses air tools would know what’s wrong with this. It takes a 3 HP compressor to supply an air drill puts out about 1/2 HP. We use airtools because they’re compact, not because they’re efficient. The difference disappears in a lot of heat, a helluva racket & wearing out expensive compressors.

  15. And it’s just occurred. Where are they going to get the heat from to liquefy & decompress the air? They dumped the heat into the environment when they compressed & liquefied the air. There’s no way of storing it or they’d be storing heat to produce electricity in the first place. Now you’ve got to put the heat back in. Where from? You going to turn a large area of NW England into Greenland, every time you want to switch the lights on?

  16. I’m sure some of the arts graduates won’t have a clue what I’m talking about, above. So:
    When you compress or liquefy a gas you use a lot of energy to take energy OUT of the gas. The vibration of the gas molecules make it a gas in the first place. Without energy, gasses are solids. When you extract energy from compressed gasses by decompression you’re actually intercepting some of the energy that has to flow into the gas to decompress it. To get those molecules vibrating again. That energy has to come from somewhere. It’s not in the gas.
    No-one really thinks about this, because mostly you’re doing it with small volumes of gas & the local environment doesn’t much mind having small amounts of energy extracted from it. Large scale & you get major temperature drops. This is, after all, how a refrigerator or air conditioning works. If you can’t get the energy in fast enough, the atmosphere local to your gubbins drops below freezing point & its water content comes out as ice. Ice is a poor conductor of heat & prevents further energy flows & the whole bloody issue stops dead.
    It’d be really interesting to see how you’d utilize compressed gas energy storage on a cold foggy winter night, with no wind. Like those times you need energy because your birdkillers aren’t spinning.

  17. “It’d be really interesting to see how you’d utilize compressed gas energy storage on a cold foggy winter night, with no wind.”
    Run it under the sea on the cold cycle. I am sure something could be done with the waste heat in the hot cycle.

  18. Hi all: Another method I heard of was using the compressed air to inflate expandable bladders deep under water. The pressure of the water would then push the air back by deflating the bladders when you needed the energy. Would this get around the refrigeration issue discussed in some other comments? The only losses I can see here are those associated with the compressor.
    Thoughts?

  19. Of course you could do this the other way around. Just build a big concrete bucket. Float it in the North Sea. Pump the sea water out. When you need some power, let the sea back in. A really big concrete bucket.

    The Greens would, no doubt, be really happy about all the jobs needed scraping barnacles off the bottom.

  20. Re. expandable bladders deep under water.

    I really don’t think you arts grads have any idea of the size of the things we’re talking about here to have a useful quantity of energy storage, and how on earth do you make it and seal it? Or the environmental constraints on materials under these conditions, mechanical, biological and chemical. Or the difficulties in ensuring they remain sealed under these conditions.

    And if you can’t imagine losses other than the compressor….

    Frictional losses in the large pipe leading to the bladders.
    Losses deforming the substantial amount of material in the bladder as it expands and contracts.
    Losses in the turbine.
    Losses in the generator.
    There’s probably more I haven’t thought of.

    And then what happens if it catastrophically fails with a ship overhead?

  21. abacab – “And then what happens if it catastrophically fails with a ship overhead?”

    But it would all be worth it just to hear what the Lloyds’ underwriters had to say when you told them you lost your nice shiny new oil tanker to the largest breaking of wind in human history.

  22. @abacab
    I’m thinking the arts grads are envisaging pressurising a small cylinder with a few thousand cubic metres of air. Sort of like boxing the explosion of a kilotonne of TNT. And when they get their hands on a couple billion tons of engineering grade neutronium they’ll show us how it’s done.

  23. Bloke in Spain,

    I’m trying to think what in your line of work would use air tools.

    Actually, I am not sure I want to know.

  24. ND Reader

    > “It’d be really interesting to see how you’d utilize compressed gas energy storage on a cold foggy winter night, with no wind.”
    Run it under the sea on the cold cycle. <

    Wow. Just Wow. Seawater in winter's at about what? 4 or 5 degrees? Freezes at minus a bit. Yep. H2O has a pretty high thermal capacity. But it's also a remarkably good insulator.
    Are you actually intent on starting an iceberg factory?

    If I were you I'd stick to writing amusing critiques of whatever ND's you've been reading, recently.

  25. The viability / non-viability of renewables, given that they are not despatchable, lies in storage. Many, many renewables projects (nearly all wind or solar) come with some element of storage attached to them. Mostly in electrical battery storage form. But the power rating of the battery when being drawn on (MW) is often pitiful and the total storage amount (TWh) likewise. Until storage is cracked properly the economic model for renewables is going to be subsidy based.
    And yet, and yet – governments everywhere subside renewable powergen like it’s going out of fashion and don’t subsidise storage build at all as far as I can see.
    Maybe someone should point out to Gove that if he really wants to ‘help’ he should divert 100% of the available cash for subsiding generation to subsiding storage. Just saying.

  26. “H2O has a pretty high thermal capacity. But it’s also a remarkably good insulator. Are you actually intent on starting an iceberg factory?”
    Six miles from where I am sitting the tides run at 4 knots. (Donaghadee sound). Twenty miles from where I am sitting, the tides also run at 4 knots at the entrance to Strangford Lough, and there is already a tidal generator.
    Now, I wonder if the tides are 90degrees out of sync at those two points – that would be handy.
    Anyway, will that sort of water speed solve the ice problem?

  27. 55.5 and 70. Those are the numbers you need. That’s energy density in MW/kg of LNG and power density in kW/m³ of a large simple-cycle gas turbine (roughly). Oh, and efficiency of 60–65%. None of this Professor Branestawm shit is anywhere near. It’s a non-solution to a non-problem.

  28. Sod the renewables.

    We need more nuclear power stations.
    Clean, compact compared to renewables, reliable.
    Energy density of uranium anyone?

    Slight risk of mushrooms, but that’s about the only downside. Oh, and a small amount of waste.

  29. Another method I heard of was using the compressed air to inflate expandable bladders deep under water.

    Wow. Oil rigs depreciate at a fantastic rate, what would happen to air bladders in the North Sea?

    It’s becoming impossible to tell what is satire and what is reality these days.

  30. “We need more nuclear power stations.”

    That’s why I’m waiting for the arts grads to come along with their billion tons of engineering grade neutronium. Cubic metre box, small enough to go under the stairs. Let off a 100Mt fusion device in it. Turn the tap when you need some power. Simples. Simple as anything else they come up with.

  31. @bloke in spain, June 5, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Spot-on.
    Capital & running costs, maintenance and breakdowns is why manufacturing, food etc are replacing pneumatics with electro-hydraulic or electric actuators.

  32. @bloke in spain, June 5, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Good explain.

    Anyone wanting a diy demo: discharge a CO2 fire extinguisher or a pub’s beer CO2 cylinder.

  33. “Until storage is cracked properly the economic model for renewables is going to be subsidy based.”

    Storage does nothing. It’s a distraction.

    “Hey, look at that shiny storage over there!”

  34. @NDReader

    Strangford Lough gen was horribly expensive and iirc it’s broken.

    There’s a good reason the Strangford Lough monks gave-up on their tidal energy and water-wheels & windmills stopped being used.

    Greens want all humanity back to pre-industrial revolution living standards which would lead to mass deaths in the billions.

  35. That’s all interesting stuff but you all seem to have missed the point because of this project: it’s about getting access to taxpayers’ wallets via politicians who like to claim the are “doing something”:

    “The 690-square metre Bury facility officially opens on Tuesday, funded with £8m of government money. “

  36. “Six miles from where I am sitting the tides run at 4 knots. (Donaghadee sound). Twenty miles from where I am sitting, the tides also run at 4 knots at the entrance to Strangford Lough, and there is already a tidal generator.
    Now, I wonder if the tides are 90degrees out of sync at those two points – that would be handy.
    Anyway, will that sort of water speed solve the ice problem?”

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make but the maximum tidal stream I could find for that area was 3.4kn which occurs during Springs and that’s only for a few hours every 14 days or so and that was some 5 miles out. (Close to the coast its a lot less, max c.2kn. (Which is why sailors try to hug the coast line on a foul tide. (Its called cheating the tide))

  37. “I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make but the maximum tidal stream I could find for that area was 3.4kn which occurs during Springs and that’s only for a few hours every 14 days or so and that was some 5 miles out.”
    4.5 knots within a mile of the shore between Donaghadee and the Copeland islands. I’m a yachter myself and I have gone through the sound both with and against the tide. (Against the tide only when the coursde of the race demands it!)
    My point was that sort of water speed would prevent icing of a submersed heat sink like a pressure release nozzle.
    https://eoceanic.com/sailing/harbours/119/donaghadee_harbour_county_down_ireland

  38. Черный дракон: Energy density of uranium is more like 80 TJ/kg. That’s six orders of magnitude higher than fossil fuels (this makes sense; nuclear stuff has energies in the MeV range and chemical a few eV). Anti-matter is 90 PJ/kg, but it’s tricky to contain (and if it’s baryonic, you lose half your energy in neutrinos).

  39. “The tide does not run at 4 kts when it’s on the turn…”
    That’s why it would be handy if the flows at the two tide races I mentioned were 90 degrees (3 hours) out of sync – it would be on the turn in one location while it was in full flow at the other.

  40. “My point was that sort of water speed would prevent icing of a submersed heat sink like a pressure release nozzle.”

    Yet aircraft wings ice up at 500mph

    I do wonder if I live in the same world as some of the people who comment on renewables. I know my one has some basic physics in it.
    I do actually own a compressor. Quite a fair sized one, too, for a portable. 25 litre tank holds 10 bar. 150lb/sq in That’ll run an air-drill equivalent to a 3/8 Black & Decker for about a minute without the compressor running, before it’s turning too slow to be usable. For convenient figures, let’s say 1/2 hp & 360W. So 6 W/h. That’s less than the bulb lights your fridge when the door’s open. It then takes a 3 hp compressor a minute to recharge the tank. There’s fins on the side of that compressor to keep it cool. But it’ll be distinctly hot to the touch after a minute. Which is where 2 1/2 hp of energy just went.
    I’m now trying to envisage the size of a tank holds 100 MW & having trouble.
    Oh, that’s right. Liquefy the air. Yep. That gets the energy density way up. Probably up to somewhere like that of lettuce. But this is for storage, right? Just a question, but how do you keep all this liquid air cold enough to still be liquid air when you need it? Because if you don’t, heat’s going to leak in & turn it to gaseous air. With a lot of fucking pressure. You want to see 100MW of energy come out, all in one go? I think I’ll go & stand behind that hill over there.

  41. Oh & the answer to BiG is multi-talented. Not everyone’s a paper pusher all their life.

  42. @BiCR
    Seems more like it.
    That’s what I get for googling something while walking around the supermarket…

  43. Bit late to the thread…
    Key phrase in the article is : “However, Brett said the technology was ready for commercialisation and could succeed with subsidy…”

    Interesting tech, given the inefficiencies of the process very unlikely to be viable at *current* electric prices. I do like the general idea of the process – as long as anything vaguely squishy is kept out of the predicted blast radius when a tank fails.

    Given the way the green mob is moving, prices are only going one direction – there will reach a point where this is viable without subsidy. For now, it’s pure subsidy farming.

    From a safety point of view, I’d prefer this to multiple lithium battery farms – at least a tank going is a fairly well defined event with known parameters that can be designed around. A lithium fire is… unpleasant at best.

    I’d rather use something like the Sabatier (or Fischer–Tropsch) process (or a more modern derivative) to generate syngas. I suspect that the losses would be less bad – and you’ve got a reasonably useful intermediate process that can be stored easily and safely.

    If wishes were horses, I’d rather move 60% of baseload over to gen 4 breeder/burner reactors and use gas turbines to cover more rapid changes… which isn’t going to happen

  44. DM today: UK has now had two weeks with virtually zero wind electricity.

    How many liquid-air tanks to gen 2 weeks electricity based on unproductive wind capacity?

    imho everyone signing up with a “green” electricity supplier should have a smart meter that stops supply when wind/pv stops and they pay unsubsidised price full price. Also, green energy only bought by firms who want to buy it.

    The “renewables” energy business is a monumental Gov’t backed fraud.

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