UM invention helps advance reliability of alternative energy

April 16, 2012, University of Minnesota

A University of Minnesota invention could help make storage of solar and wind energy more efficient and economical. The invention was licensed to SustainX, a leading global developer of grid-scale energy storage solutions that use patented isothermal compressed air methods to store large amounts of energy cleanly and economically.

"A lot of , like wind and solar, are unpredictable. The wind doesn't always blow, and the sun doesn't always shine. With economical bulk , one can really stabilize these energy sources, which makes them more predictable and more reliable," said Perry Li, inventor and mechanical engineering professor in the College of Science and Engineering.

SustainX is developing isothermal (or near-constant temperature) compressed air energy storage (CAES) systems that provide bulk energy while reducing carbon emissions and increasing the reliability of the electric grid. The conventional method of compressed air energy storage depends on the use of underground caverns, which greatly limits their available locations and practical use. The SustainX solution uses pipe-type air storage, which makes it possible to store energy virtually anywhere.

"This licensing agreement with the University of Minnesota expands SustainX's growing IP portfolio and provides our company with another possible method of implementing our unique isothermal CAES technology," said Dax Kepshire, SustainX vice president and general manager.

The SustainX energy storage solution could also reduce the need for gas-powered peaker plants that operate during hours of usage.

Explore further: Compressed Air Energy Storage: Renewable Energy

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3 comments

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Sonhouse
4 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2012
Just what do they mean by Pipe-type air storage? A bunch of pipes strapped together? Doesn't sound very economical if that is all they are talking about. Not terribly informative article.
Infinion
1 / 5 (2) Apr 16, 2012
Just what do they mean by Pipe-type air storage? A bunch of pipes strapped together? Doesn't sound very economical if that is all they are talking about. Not terribly informative article.


my guess is that instead of doing it this way http://phys.org/n...601.html which requires a limestone cavern, they're using pipes as air tanks to store compressed air?

If so, can they really take credit for this as an invention? What did they invent? Higher efficiency in converting electricity into compressed air and vice-versa? Are we talking about a storage tank or a pump?
dschlink
not rated yet Apr 16, 2012
Even for a press release this has amazingly little real information.

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