A University of Minnesota invention could help make storage of solar and wind energy more efficient and economical. The invention was licensed to SustainX, a leading global developer of grid-scale energy storage solutions.
“A lot of renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, are unpredictable. The wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine,” explains Perry Li, inventor and mechanical engineering professor in the College of Science and Engineering. “With economical bulk energy storage, one can really stabilize these sources, which makes them more reliable.”
SustainX is developing isothermal (or near-constant temperature) compressed air energy storage (CAES) systems. These systems provide bulk energy storage capacity while reducing carbon emissions and increasing the reliability of the electric grid.
The conventional method of compressed air energy storage depends on the use of underground caverns, which greatly limits their available locations and practical use. The SustainX solution uses pipe-type air storage, which makes it possible to store energy virtually anywhere.