Cryogenic energy storage gets development push in Europe

The EU CryoHub project will investigate the potential of cryogenic energy storage to integrate renewable energy in industrial food refrigeration.
Published: Wed 06 Jul 2016

Industrial food refrigeration at refrigerated warehouses and food factories presents a novel use case for renewable integration. With their substantial demand for cooling and the availability of large quantities of waste heat, cryogenic energy storage offers a promising technology to enable on-site storage of renewable energy during periods of high generation and its use at peak grid demand. However, to date, such applications have been limited because of the poor efficiency due to unrecovered energy losses.

With the aim to develop and investigate the potential of cryogenic energy storage in this sector, the CryoHub project has been initiated with support from the EU Horizon 2020 research programme.

CryoHub an intelligent technology

Cryogenic energy storage is conceptually very simple. During periods of low power demand and low energy price, a cryogenic gas is liquefied and stored in a well-insulated vessel (charging period). During times of high power consumption and high energy price, the liquefied cryogen is pumped and expanded to drive a generator of power which is restored to the electrical grid (discharging period).

The CryoHub will be developed as an intelligent technology that will effectively convert a conventional refrigerated warehouse or food factory from a simple power consumer to an interactive energy hub.

By employing renewable energy to liquefy and store cryogens, the CryoHub will balance the power grid, while meeting the cooling demand of a refrigerated food warehouse and recovering the waste heat from its equipment and components. Through the renewable energy-driven cycle of cryogen liquefaction, storage, distribution, efficient use and power regeneration, the cryogenic energy storage efficiency will be maximized.

CryoHub objectives

Project objectives are as follows:

  • Evaluate the present and future potential for cryogenic energy storage at refrigerated warehouses
  • Determine key processes and unit operations to take advantage of cryogenic energy storage and identify how stored cryogenic cold and waste heat can be best integrated
  • Explore the synergies of cryogenic energy storage and renewables-based technologies in refrigerated food warehousing
  • Identify the energy and carbon savings which cryogenic energy storage could achieve in refrigerated warehousing
  • Identify engineering solutions to consolidate a cryogenic energy storage system into a typical warehouse refrigeration plant
  • Develop a software system for automated decision-support and management of cryogenic energy storage and cryogen expenditure
  • Build a cryogenic energy storage demo-plant and validate and demonstrate the storage performance for a refrigerated warehouse.
  • Elaborate a strategy for cryogenic energy storage implementation in the food refrigeration sector across Europe.

CryoHub status

The CryoHub project is being coordinated by London South Bank University in UK and includes 14 industry and academic partners from across Europe.

The 42-month project is still in the early stages and a mapping exercise is currently under way seeking the locations and energy use of cold stores and food factories in Europe. A facility is also being sought to host the demonstration plant.

Cryogenic storage research

While the CryoHub project is focussed on industrial food refrigeration, cryogenic energy storage is a relatively new technology in general.

It is an area in which the UK has taken the lead. One of the longest running projects is the Highview 350kW liquid air energy storage plant at Slough in southern England, which started operations in January 2010 and ran through the end of 2014. Based on the achievements of that project a 5MW LAES demonstrator is currently under development alongside Viridor’s landfill gas generation plant in Greater Manchester. [Engerati-Innovation and Investment Will Create a Sustainable Energy Storage Environment]