NREL gets funding to develop low-cost thermal energy storage

NREL thermal energy

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been awarded nearly $2.8 million in funding to develop a system for grid electricity storage and power generation that includes a high-temperature charging device, low-cost thermal energy storage modules, a high-performance heat exchanger, and a closed-loop Brayton cycle turbine.

As NREL Principal Investigator Zhiwen Ma explains: “When electric power is cheapest, electric heaters will ‘charge’ the storage modules by heating stable, inexpensive solid particles to more than 1,100 degrees Celsius. And when it’s time to discharge this energy, the hot particles will move through a heat exchanger to heat a working fluid that drives a high-efficiency closed-Brayton combined cycle attached to an electric generator.”

NREL received this competitive award from ARPA-E’s Duration Addition to electricitY Storage (DAYS) program, in which teams will develop energy storage systems to provide reliable, affordable power to the electric grid. NREL’s proposed system will focus on scalability. For example, a 55-gigawatt-hour thermal storage system is enough to power 50,000 homes for 100 hours during an outage. This scalability would not only support the DAYS goals but could also help enhance grid resilience and promote the growth of domestic energy sources.

The project team includes scientists, engineers, and professors from NREL; GE Global Research; Greenway Energy; Allied Mineral Products, Inc.; Purdue University; Colorado School of Mines; and Power Engineers. This NREL-led team will develop the components for the Long-Duration Energy Storage (LDES) system and will verify that it meets specified cost and performance targets for demonstration and commercialization.

— Solar Builder magazine

Leave a Reply