Ironic dome stores clean energy with CO2
Energy Dome CO2 battery balances low-carbon energy, power Metal Tech News – June 22, 2022
Last updated 7/12/2022 at 2:11pm
What if the very carbon dioxide being blamed for global warming was the secret ingredient of massive batteries for the storage of renewable energy meant to prevent additional CO2 from entering the atmosphere in the first place? Italy-based startup Energy Dome has created such a battery that could help fully utilize low-carbon energy while also helping to stabilize electrical grids.
The primary problem with renewable energy sources like wind and solar is the electricity they generate is not only needed on breezy or sunny days. So, we must store any excess energy produced while the sun is shining and the wind is blowing when it is not. This problem is compounded by a largely unrelated cycle of how much power is drawn off the grid. The solution is to store as much excess electricity as possible for delivery when demand outstrips supply.
Energy Dome has developed an ingenious and somewhat ironic technology to store excess energy at the grid scale and deliver power to customers as they need it – helping to fully utilize intermittent low-carbon energy and prevent rolling blackouts when there is not enough electricity to power all the air conditioners on a breezeless hot summer day.
As its name suggests, the battery developed by the innovative Italian company uses a large dome to store CO2 gas. In charging mode, the Energy Dome system uses excess electricity to draw CO2 from this atmospheric gas-holding dome and compress it in a high-pressure liquid state at ambient temperature. At the same time, heat generated during the compression process is stored in thermal energy storage systems.
When there is not enough electricity being fed into the power grid to meet customer needs, the liquified CO2 is released. The stored heat is used to evaporate the CO2, which turns a turbine to generate electricity. The gaseous CO2 returns to the dome to wait for the next charging cycle.
Similar compressed air energy storage systems that use air drawn from the atmosphere have been developed but are limited by the low energy storage density of the medium, which means very large storage facilities such as underground caverns or old mines must be used to store the compressed air. This makes such technologies dependent on the availability of large, cavernous areas that can be sealed adequately.
Energy Dome says the ability to store CO2 in a liquid state at ambient temperatures allows its liquid air storage system to store more than 75% of the available excess energy – some of that energy is needed to compress and release the CO2 – and enjoys the flexibility of being built where the storage is needed at less than half the cost of lithium-ion battery storage systems of similar size.
This less-expensive grid-scale energy storage system could alleviate some of the concerns over supplies of battery materials such as lithium, cobalt, and graphite – reserving these materials for the nearly unfathomable number of batteries needed for electric vehicles over the next two decades.
In addition to not requiring battery materials, Energy Dome does not need any specialized parts or equipment. The company says everything needed to build its energy storage system is "off the shelf" and has already been tested in real-world applications – enabling the company to quickly build a safe and reliable CO2 battery.
To further speed the deployment of its CO2 battery, Energy Dome has made its technology both standardized and customizable based on customers' storage needs.
The company has developed standardized equipment at 50 megawatt-hour increments. For example, a 50MWh system would need one liquid CO2 storage "brick" and one thermal storage energy system brick, along with the appropriately sized compressors and turbines. For a 100 MWh system, you would add a second CO2 storage and thermal storage brick. The CO2 storage domes would also be sized according to need.
Energy Dome has built a pilot of its CO2 energy storage system on the island of Sardinia, Italy. The company says this test plant is operating as expected and plans to build a commercial 200 MWh system by 2023.
Ansaldo Energia, an Italy-based energy company with operations primarily in Europe and Asia, signed a license agreement in April to partner with Energy Dome on the commercialization of long-duration CO2 energy storage facilities across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
"We are excited to partner with Ansaldo Energia to scale the deployment of low-cost, easy-to-build CO2 Battery storage facilities," said Energy Dome founder and CEO Claudio Spadacini.
"Energy Dome is open for business and we are negotiating multiple pre-orders for energy storage facilities of 100 to 200 MWh in size," he added.
So, this ironic dome technology that leverages CO2 to enable the efficient use of renewable energy systems meant to keep CO2 out of the atmosphere may soon be stabilizing an electric grid near you.