VATTENFALL, a leading European energy company, and Swedish company SaltX Technology have commissioned an industrial-scale pilot plant to test SaltX’s innovative nanocoated-salt based energy storage technology.
Renewable energy is inconsistent and large-scale storage is required to allow for continuous energy supply. SaltX developed patented technology, based on nanocoated salt, which enables thermal energy to be stored chemically and provides a long-term, cost-effective solution. The salt acts as a battery which can be charged thousands of times without losing performance, and energy can be stored for months without losses.
Vattenfall is to use SaltX’s nanocoated materials to test how renewable wind and solar power can be stored in salt. The pilot plant, located at Vattenfall’s Reuter thermal power plant in Spandau, Berlin, has a total storage capacity of 10 MWh and an output of 0.5 MW.
The pilot plant is charged with electricity from the grid and discharges “high-quality” heat into Berlin’s district heating network. District heating networks use insulated pipes to supply heat generated in a centralised location for residential and commercial heating requirements, such as space heating and water heating. Berlin’s network is the largest.
“In the next few months, we will collect important data to get answers to the question of whether and how this type of plant can be used in our business,” said Markus Witt, Vice President of Asset Management at Vattenfall. “Some questions are how large amounts of salt can be used, how quickly the storage medium reacts and how the process can be controlled.”
The test operations, planned to run until the end of Q2, will allow SaltX and Vattenfall to evaluate the technology and functionally. The operations will then be evaluated, and results will be presented at the end of the year.
The Reuter pilot plant is part of a long-term project to renew the power plant. This year Vattenfall also plans to begin operating Europe’s largest power-to-heat facility at the site. The energy store is based on storage of hot water.
In 2020, Vattenfall intends to put its Reuter coal power plant out of service, a step in the company’s plan to phase out coal from its Berlin operations by 2030.
Harald Bauer, CEO of SaltX, said: “We see a shift in the energy sector and an immense need for energy storage worldwide. Germany is one of the countries taking lead in the transition and we are very proud to have Vattenfall as partner. We are eager to put SaltX Energy Storage solution on the market as soon as possible.”
SaltX’s innovative storage technology is based on nanocoated salt. The nanocoating prevents the salt from becoming “sticky” so it retains its single crystal form. In addition, the nanocoating makes the salt noncorrosive, unlike ordinary salt, and it is non-toxic and recyclable.
When the nanocoated salt is uncharged it is kept as a mixture with water. The salt is charged by heating the mixture up to 500°C, causing the water to evaporate and the salt to dry. The salt can be stored at room temperature and remains charged as long as it remains dry. The stored energy is discharged by adding steam or water to the salt, and a chemical reaction releases 500°C.
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