A thermal battery being developed by Curtin University researchers will be key to a solar power system capable of producing electricity overnight, rivalling fossil fuels as a viable source of power is being led by Professor Craig Buckley from Curtin’s School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences.
Professor Buckley says the thermal battery was part of the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) system being developed by United Sun Systems, which requires a battery to store and release energy to enable non-stop solar power generation.
“Storage has long been a stumbling point for renewable energy but our prototype thermal battery is able to store and, as required, release solar energy without reliance on sunlight at all times,” Buckley says.
“The battery uses a high-temperature metal hydride or metal carbonate as the heat storage medium and a low temperature gas storage vessel for storing the hydrogen or carbon dioxide.”
“At night, and in times of cloud cover, hydrogen or carbon dioxide is released from the gas storage vessel and absorbed by the higher temperature metal to form a metal hydride / metal carbonate, which produces heat used to generate electricity.”
Curtin University Deputy vice-chancellor research professor Chris Moran says the project aimed to develop a solar power system that produced electricity 24-hours a day, seven days a week and was commercially viable for industry.
“As with the lithium battery systems that Curtin is also developing, the deployment of a cost-effective energy storage system using thermal batteries will revolutionise the landscape of renewable energy production world-wide by allowing renewables to truly compete with fossil fuels,” Moran says.