Long-term, heat-based energy storage in aluminium


From pv magazine Germany

The “Reveal” research project began in July, with a number of big goals. They are focusing on the further development of advanced technologies that can produce aluminium from alumina without carbon dioxide emissions. And they are working on technologies to use the metal as a medium for long-term storage of electricity as heat, which can be extracted and used to heat homes in buildings during winter months.

The EU Horizon Europe funding program and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) are supporting the project with €3.6 million (AU$5.25 million). The project will run until 2026.

Reveal’s main focus is the development of technology that can store energy from PV, wind and hydropower for months or even years at low cost. Nine partners from seven different European countries are participating in the project. It builds on ideas and preliminary projects from the SPF Institute for Solar Technology at the OST. The concept is fundamentally different from traditional methods of energy storage such as batteries, hydrogen or synthetic fuels, and uses aluminium metal as a medium for energy storage.

Researchers in Iceland have already shown that electrical energy from renewable sources can be chemically stored in aluminium without emitting greenhouse gases. The OST team was able to back this up by showing that aluminium can be used to generate heat and electrical energy with great efficiency.

Initial model calculations also showed that storing energy in this way can be significantly cheaper than, for example, with power-to-gas or synthetic fuels. The discharge of the energy stored in the aluminium leads to reaction products. These can be converted to aluminium with new energy. But ultimately, the costs and environmental impact will be decisive for the success and sustainability of the concept, according to the Eastern Swiss University of Applied Sciences.

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