The researchers at Curtin University are determined to be at the core of solar power system research, which will make a panel capable of producing electricity overnight. This will be in competition of fossil fuel energy but will be renewable and therefore more suited to being used commercially and at heavy industries globally. It could even be used for mining operations which require high power voltage.
Curtin has been in collaboration with companies working on renewable energy from around the world, such as United Sun Systems, and ITP Thermal, on a project which can potentially be a game changer. It is being led by Professor Craig Buckley from Curtin’s School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences. According to the professor, the thermal battery has been a part of a Concentrated Solar Power System which is being developed by Sun Systems and needs a battery which stores and releases energy to encourage the production of solar power without stops.
Professor Buckley says that storage of renewable energy has proven to be a hurdle for them so far, but a prototype of the thermal battery is going to be able to store and release this energy per requirement, without needing sunlight exposure all day. The mechanism of the battery is such which uses a high temperature metal hydride or metal carbonate as the heat storage medium, and to store the carbon dioxide or hydrogen, a low temperature storage vessel. In the night, or at a time where exposure to the sun is minimal, hydrogen or carbon dioxide will be released from the gas storage vessel and will be absorbed by the metal of higher temperature to make a metal hydride or metal carbonate, which will use heat produced by it to generate electricity.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran has spoken on the project and said that the aim was to develop a system of solar power generation which would make energy available at all hours of the day with no exceptions. Only this will be viable for commercial uses and industrial infrastructural development.
Professor Moran maintains that as with lithium battery systems also under development at the university, the deploying of economical energy storage systems which will use thermal batteries, will end up revolutionizing the landscape of production of renewable energy in the world, placing it on a level playing field with fossil fuels.
A lithium battery stores electrical energy which can be utilized to power the amenities when the sun is not shining. The research aims at the development of technological advancements which will include thermochemical energy storage through thermal batteries into dish-Stirling systems. This type of a system can provide close to 46 kW of power, and is good for powering remote energy intensive industries. Such industries consist of deep mines and boring for oil since it can power gadgets on command. More than one dish can be used in order to increase power usage if needed.