About the Technology

Basic principles of Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES)

Air turns to liquid when refrigerated to -196°C, and can be stored in standard insulated, but unpressurised vessels at very large scale. Exposure to ambient temperatures causes rapid re-gasification and a 700-fold expansion in volume, which is used to drive a turbine and create electricity.

Highview’s technology draws from established processes from the turbo-machinery, power generation and industrial gas sectors. The components of Highview’s processes can be readily sourced from large OEMs and have proven life times and performances.

In common with all energy storage systems, our LAES system comprises of three primary processes: a charging system; an energy store; and a power recovery. Uniquely these can be scaled independently to optimise the system for different applications.

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Why Liquid Air Energy Storage?

  • No geographical constraints
  • Low capital cost
  • Long lifetime 25+ years
  • Scaleable to 100MWs/GWhs
  • Mature components available from a global supply chain
  • Integration of industrial low-grade waste heat and waste cold
  • Uses no scarce or toxic materials

Process

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The charging system comprises an air liquefier, which uses electrical energy to draw air from the surrounding environment. During this stage, the air is cleaned and cooled to subzero temperatures until the air liquefies. 700 of ambient air become 1 litre of liquid air.
The liquid air is stored in an insulated tank at low pressure, which functions as the energy store. This equipment is already globally deployed for bulk storage of liquid nitrogen, oxygen and LNG. The tanks used within industry have the potential to hold GWh of stored energy.
When power is required, liquid air is drawn from the tank(s) and pumped to high pressure. Stored heat from the air liquefier is applied to the liquid air via heat exchangers and an intermediate heat transfer fluid. This produces a high-pressure gas, which is then used to drive a turbine and generator.
The low boiling point of liquefied air means the round trip efficiency of the system can be improved with the introduction of above ambient heat. Highview’s standard LAES system captures and stores heat produced during the liquefaction process (stage 1) and integrates the heat to the power recovery process (stage 3). The system can also integrate waste heat from industrial processes such as thermal power generation or steel mills.
During stage 3, very cold air is exhausted and captured by our proprietary high‐grade cold store. This is used at a later time to enhance the efficiency of the liquefaction process. Alternatively, the system can integrate waste cold from industrial processes such as LNG terminals.

Optional processes – integrating industrial waste heat/cold

Highview’s standard stand alone system as shown above, has an efficiency, of around 60%, however the company is able to design bespoke LAES systems that have >70% efficiency. These systems utilise industrial waste heat/cold from applications such as thermal generation plant, steel mills and LNG terminals.

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Intellectual Property

Highview maintains a rapidly expanding portfolio of patents covering all aspects of Liquid Air Energy Storage, protecting innovations relating to the process, system components and methods of operation.

Innovation is at the core of our work and we operate on a principle of proactively identifying and protecting intellectual property generated by our engineers and business development team. We have found that inventions arise from exploring new applications and business models as much as from project work and research & development.

The Intellectual Property team works closely with all areas of the business to help identify inventions and fully explore their potential, and works with the patent attorneys to protect them in the most appropriate way for the business.