CryoHubUK: A UK company specialising in the development of high pressure gas expanders has joined the European consortium researching cryogenic energy storage.

The Surrey-based TP Group has signed a consortium agreement to participate in CryoHub, a research and development project funded under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

The CryoHub project was established with a £7m grant in September and is led by London South Bank University’s School of The Built Environment and Architecture.

The team will investigate the potential of cryogenic energy storage (CES) to solve the problem of how to store excess renewable energy. The intention is to use cheap, off-peak electricity to convert air into a liquid, which can then be stored over a long period of time in a storage vessel. Turning the liquid back to gas, by removing it from the store and applying heat to it, will produce a huge increase in volume and pressure – enough to power a turbine to generate electricity which can then be supplied back to the grid.

“Because the liquid can be taken out of storage on demand, the technology can be used to restore electricity to the grid when energy demand is predicted to outstrip supply,” explained the LSBU’s Professor Judith Evans. “It could also be used locally, also saving grid energy. CES is therefore a great complement to renewable energy sources, as it effectively safeguards against any periods of intermittent supply and helps to stabilise the energy grid.”

TPG’s initial involvement in the project over the 2016/17 financial years is estimated to be circa €0.5m for the integration of its highly efficient turboexpander technology. The technology is already proven in other commercial systems, and this project will see the Group work to tailor the turboexpander specifically to meet the needs of the CES architecture. The work will be carried out over the next two years with the majority in 2016.