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Do hybrid compressed air energy storage (HCAES) systems offer a viable alternative solution to energy storage requirements for small to medium size renewable energy systems?

Muller, Jan (2009) Do hybrid compressed air energy storage (HCAES) systems offer a viable alternative solution to energy storage requirements for small to medium size renewable energy systems? Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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With the increased international pressure to make use of more renewable energy technologies, the intermittent nature of renewable resources requires some kind of energy storage in order to ensure energy is available when needed. Most conventional storage solutions for small to medium size applications are based on chemical batteries which are hazardous, not easily recycled and can have a negative environmental effect. Thus renewed interest is being given to clean and environmentally friendly storage technologies such as compressed air, a technology more than a century old, and still being used in flammable and explosive industrial environments.

New, improved compressors, air motors and advanced technologies and materials that can withstand large fluctuations in temperature have become available, and have been used by some innovative manufacturers to produce Hybrid Compressed Air Energy Storage (HCAES) Systems, which claim to have high turn around efficiencies. In this research, the available literature on compressed air systems, and new HCAES systems are evaluated in order to compare them to conventional storage technologies. Furthermore, an evaluation was conducted to determine if it would be possible to design a HCAES system with off the shelf air equipment and if this HCAES system could possibly be a viable alternative to conventional or new chemical battery storage technologies.

During the research it was found that there is very little literature on the subject of HCEAS systems, and that the manufacturers do not give much information or proof on actual efficiencies of their systems. What was found is that there are several academic institutions working on combining compressed air with technologies such as diesel engines, oil pneumatics, wind, water, super capacitors and flywheels in order to improve current hybrid systems’ effectiveness and efficiency in energy storage and supply applications and to reduce the environmental footprint of such systems.

From literature, research and manufacturer specifications it was found that although theoretical efficiencies of close to 100% can be realised, available HCAES systems do
not offer such an effective or efficient solution as chemical battery systems. In addition off the shelf compressors and motors that can be used to design a HCAES system have been manufactured to give high performance and torque with low efficiencies. The efficiency is further drastically reduced as the storage pressure is increased, which is necessary to decrease storage vessel requirements.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Energy
Supervisor(s): Pryor, Trevor
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