Innovation That Matters

Energy on demand | Photo source Pexels

New pilot plant provides ‘energy on demand’


An Australian energy company has partnered with a university research center to develop a revolutionary power plant that offers unlimited energy on demand.

Sydney-based Infratech Industries and the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Frontier Energy Technologies and Utilisation are ready to unveil what they describe as the world’s first ‘energy on demand’ power plant – the Chemical Looping Energy on Demand System (CLES). They have built a pilot CLES plant in Newcastle, New South Wales, with the capacity to produce energy for 30 average homes, and aim to have refrigerator-sized plants ready to install in individual homes within 18 months.

Infratech has already gained notice for its floating solar power projects, which have been installed in both Australia and the United States. The new power plant evolved from a search for a storage system to complement the plants. Storage is a major concern for the wind and solar industries, as a lack of efficient storage means that power generally needs to be consumed within a short time of generation.

The plant operates by pushing compressed air through an enclosed particle system, oxidising the particles to produce heat and hot air, which in turn drives a turbine. The particles then reduce, producing oxygen and/or hydrogen as a by-product. Operating in energy storage mode, the system works like a typical battery, using electricity to charge, while it uses gas to run in the on-demand mode. Because the system can simultaneously produce heat, power, oxygen, hot water and chilled water, it is more than 90 percent efficient and is capable of overcoming issues about on-time generation and environmental side-effects that plague other energy generation and storage systems.

Because of the plants efficiency, Infratech expects the payback period for consumers to be around two years, much quicker than the seven to 10 years typical for rooftop solar. The plants could also potentially allow homeowners to earn money even when they are out by producing oxygen and hydrogen for sale. Recently, there have been a number of innovative alternative energy projects designed for a small scale, such a portable energy mill, now, will the CLES prove to be the in-home power plant of the future?




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