Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Solution to High Energy Costs Could Lie Underground

03.07.2008
Sandia National Laboratories researcher Georgianne Peek thinks a possible solution to high energy costs lies underground. And it’s not coal or oil.

It’s compressed air energy storage (CAES).

“Until recently energy has been relatively inexpensive. But now prices are rising dramatically, and we need solutions,” Peek says. “CAES and other storage technologies are not the only answer to our energy needs, but they can be an important part of the solution.”

CAES facilities function like big batteries. Electric motors drive compressors that compress air into an underground geologic formation during off-peak electric use times like evenings and weekends. Then, when electricity is needed most during high-demand times, the precompressed air is used in modified combustion turbines to generate electricity. Natural gas or other fossil fuels are still required to run the turbines, but the process is more efficient. This method uses up to 50 percent less natural gas than standard electricity production.

While the concept of compressed air energy storage is more than 30 years old, only two such plants exist — a 17-year-old facility in McIntosh, Ala., located about 40 miles north of Mobile, and a 30-year-old plant in Germany, both in caverns in salt domes. A third is being developed near Des Moines, Iowa, in an aquifer. In addition, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and several other U.S. utilities are considering CAES to help mitigate potential problems associated with the high penetrations of wind generation in their systems.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) laboratory.

Iowa project management

Sandia is currently managing DOE money to support the design of the Iowa facility, called the Iowa Stored Energy Park (ISEP). Peek is the project manager. Developers include more than 100 municipal utilities in Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas.

ISEP will be a nominal 268 megawatt/13,400 megawatts per hour CAES plant with about 50 hours of storage. It will utilize the abundant wind generation already in Iowa to charge the plant. When ISEP is up and running, it could account for 20 percent of the energy used in a year at a typical municipal Iowa utility and could save cities and their utilities as much as $5 million each year in purchased energy.

Peek says the Iowa project is pretty far along and is expected to be operational by 2012.

“One of the most important tasks that has to be done before a CAES facility can be built is to find a geologic formation that will support it,” Peek says. “ISEP developers are 95 percent sure that they have the right formation, based on the seismic testing at the site, computer modeling, and data from a sister formation.”

Sandia to study core samples

This summer multiple core samples from the potential Iowa aquifer CAES site will be taken and sent to Sandia for analysis by a team led by Steve Bauer. The analysis will include collection and assessment of the geologic, hydrologic, and rock physics data in the geomechanics laboratory. The data will provide necessary fundamental information used for the design and performance of the underground air storage vessel.

In 2000 Bauer did similar analysis of rock mechanics of a limestone mine in Norton, Ohio, that was being studied for a potential CAES facility. That project is still under development.

PNM analyzes CAES

Peek says that PNM is also studying the application of CAES in its New Mexico service territory to help manage its current renewable energy portfolio and foster the growth of renewable energy sources.

“Wind often blows at night,” she says. “As electricity is produced at night from the wind farms, it could be stored and eventually make its way into PNM’s transmission lines during periods of higher need.”

CAES technology development can trace its roots to the early 1960s when evaluation of gas turbine technology for power production began. The technology gained momentum during the next decade due to its promising fuel efficiency and response capabilities to provide load-following and peaking power support.

Now utilities are starting to tie CAES technology to wind power — first with the Iowa plant and soon with possible facilities through the nation, Peek says.

“The wind blows in some areas when electricity is not needed or where the transmission system can’t accept all of the energy,” she says. “Storage enables delivery of the off-peak energy that has been saved in storage to be delivered when it is needed most or has the highest value. Thus, more renewable energy can be delivered than might be possible without storage.”

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Chris Burroughs | newswise
Further information:
http://www.sandia.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Researchers pave the way for ionotronic nanodevices
23.02.2017 | Aalto University

nachricht Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor
22.02.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>