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Liquid Air comes of Age

Posted on 13/10/2016

A new way to think about cooling.

Clever ways to displace fossil fuels in piston engines.

You may have seen the BBC article at the beginning of June which reviewed cooling technologies that could change our world. One of the companies that the KTN has supported in the past was profiled. After successful trials the Dearman zero-emission TRU is now going into full on-road tests with Sainsburys.

Highview is also scheduled to go live this month with its 5MW grid-scale commercial demonstrator. What started life as a clever way to displace fossil fuels in piston engines has spawned not only an emerging suite of zero-emission technologies that have the potential to solve several stubborn energy problems, but also an entirely new way of thinking about cooling. Liquid air is now being recognised as a powerful new energy vector that could unlock a circular ‘cold economy’, and has secured more than £100 million in funding from government, universities, industry, private investors and the EU.

Bespoke Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) plants can be designed by Highview, that can deliver around 5MW/15MWh – to significantly more than 50MW/200MWh. The plants would support a number of applications including, intermittent renewables, ancillary services, and delivering security of supply for large industrial users.

The new system level approach has exposed cooling as a hidden link between many of this century’s biggest environmental and social challenges, and it is now becoming clear that clean cold technologies powered by liquid air could help achieve no fewer than 14 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. With two important UK liquid air technologies launching commercial demonstration projects this month we may be nearing a radical transformation of the energy system.