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Monday, August 17, 2020 

UK-based company Highview Power believes its liquid air energy storage technology, developed for land-based power generation, has possible applications in low-carbon marine propulsion.

The company says its patented technology draws on established processes from the turbo machinery, power generation and industrial gas sectors. The component parts are sourced from large and established OEMs, offering a proven lifespan and performance guarantee.

Air turns to liquid when cooled down to -196°C, and can then be stored very efficiently in insulated, low pressure vessels. Exposure to ambient temperatures causes rapid re-gasification and a 700-fold expansion in volume, which is then used to drive a turbine and create electricity without combustion.

The system employs a thermodynamic cycle that can interface with other thermal processes such as LNG regasification plants, and can utilise waste heat and cold streams, converting waste thermal energy into a useful resource.

For marine applications, large-scale coastal plants are envisaged that could provide liquid air to marine vessels; or alternatively smaller recharging stations, storing energy generated from renewable sources, could supply liquid air to inland waterway vessels at locks, or at locations such as harbour tug docking stations. Ambient heat from seawater could be used in heat-source pumps to convert liquid air for seagoing vessels. The use of super-cooled onboard liquid air storage tanks would provide sufficient range for coastal and ferry applications, thought to be equivalent to the range offered by equivalent battery systems. The system promises long life, with multiple charging cycles and no toxic compounds involved, which is considered to be highly cost-competitive in comparison with battery-electric marine energy storage.

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