For hundreds of years, the notion of cooling & or refrigerating has been seen as a way for humans to prolong the life of foods & produce.
From the very primitive ice houses dating back to 500 BC, to the discovery of the early forms of refrigeration in the early 1800’s; ‘cooling’ goods & produce have been an accepted part of human evolution.
Step forward to the 20thC & 21stC & the science of refrigeration & extreme cooling methods have developed into a science all of its own. Cryo Sciences have many applications however, Cryogenics covers the branches of physics & engineering which involve the study of very, or ultralow temperatures, how to produce them &, how materials behave at these temperatures (1)
Cryogenics which has applications in the food, healthcare, energy, Physics, sciences & space sectors; allows the freezing of devices & or materials to absolute zero to -196˚C (or 77K on the Kelvin Scale which starts at Absolute Zero) (2)
Cryogenics in the 20thC & 21stC have seen some dramatic changes to the way in which we super cool goods & materials, but it has also been an area of study which has seen transformative applications in the clean energy & clean fuel sectors.
Hydrogen has become a go to fuel for an alternative to electrification in the automotive industry. Hydrogen was first recognized by Paracelsus (1493-1541), who noticed that when iron & sulfuric acid interacted, “an air arises which burst forth like the wind.” In 1781, Henry Cavendish proved that hydrogen burned in air will form water. (3)
However, one of the challenges for the automotive sector, is how to store LH2 safely & efficiently. Hydrogen turns into a liquid when it is cooled to a temperature below -252,87 °C. At -252.87°C and 1.013 bar, liquid hydrogen has a density of close to 71 kg/m3. At this pressure, 5 kg of hydrogen can be stored in a 75-liter tank. (3)
A recent article by the Cryogenic Society of America, Inc written by Stan Levandowski, senior program manager–cryogenics, Circor Cryogenics, identified that:
“Cryogenic hydrogen is an odourless, colourless, frigid (-423 °F) liquid—the lightest there is! It weighs six tenths of a pound per gallon, one fourteenth as much as water. Up until the 1950’s, hydrogen was only a laboratory curiosity. Today, hydrogen is an industrial marvel. It is in universal global demand in the petroleum sectors; where low sulphur and clean energy fuels are needed to meet new and expanding clean air environmental regulations.”
But what does this all mean for the clean energy sector & how can Cryogenics be transformative when it comes to the global need for reducing emissions & striving for net zero emissions; whilst also providing a perpetual & clean source of energy?
Earlier this year, Dolphin N2 explored how British company Highview Power are leading the way globally with the use of Cryogenics in the manufacture & supply of clean, perpetual energy.
UK Government supports R&D to decarbonise UK energy supply & storage
Highview Power’s technology is based on the air liquefication principle, enabling the storage of air as a liquid. The benefits of this type of high-density storage, is that once there is a need for energy supply, the liquid can be reverted back into a gaseous form, generating energy which powers the Highview Power turbines, subsequently producing instantly available & sustainable energy supplies.
The Highview Power liquefication system is based on a three-phase process:
1/ Air is compressed & turned into a liquid.
2/ The liquid air is then stored in high-density storage tanks.
3/ The liquid air is then converted into gas & used to power turbines, subsequently generating electricity. (5)
In October 2019, Highview Power announced they were to build the UK’s first commercial cryogenic large -scale energy storage facility, to be located at a decommissioned thermal power station in North of England. (6)
The 50 MW/250 MWh project is a clean large-scale energy storage facility that can help the UK achieve its goal of decarbonising industry, power, heat, and transport. (6)
“Long-duration, giga-scale energy storage is the necessary foundation to enable baseload renewable energy and will be key to a 100% carbon free future.” Highview Power CEO Javier Cavada (6)
Highview Power’s CRYOBattery™ uses only benign materials with zero emissions and has zero water impact. (6)
The need for clean & fully sustainable energy is evident & with the use of Cryogenic technologies & the liquid air processing capabilities; the future could see a dramatic increase in perpetual energy supply, which won’t harm or hamper the environment.
Written by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2