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July 29, 2007 – Vol.12 No.19

THINK ICE FOR ENERGY STORAGE.

Cheap, readily available fossil energy has driven the world’s booming economies for more than a century. But there’s no doubt that cracks are growing in the energy supply chain, while we’re only beginning to learn about the damage from the uncontrolled spillage of waste from the energy free-for-all.

Increasingly it looks like the world’s economies need to put together a to-do list of technical changes, investment and regulatory actions that have to be accomplished keep the economic party going.

On the list: Find a way to store every bit of power that’s generated but not used productively.

A study by the US Department of Energy as well as a joint study of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have concluded that there is excess off-peak, underutilized power on the grid that needs to be put to work or stored for later use. The two reports consider the adoption of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) as a way to grab that untapped source of energy and put it to work when it’s needed - commuting to work, for instance.

But that’s just one idea for untapped underused energy and it considers only cars, not other significant consumers of energy such as our buildings.

In markets where there’s a heavy demand for air conditioning that excess energy from the grid can be used to make ice and, in effect, store energy as frozen water.

For years large rooftop chillers have been making ice during off-peak hours at low off-peak rates to cool large buildings.

Now a similar technology can be applied to smaller buildings - even homes - that could expand chiller technology beyond just large buildings to millions of homes in the country.

In a report prepared by E3 Ventures for Ice Energy, that company’s Ice Bear Ice Storage Air Conditioning technology can significantly reduce peak demand for electricity (Peak demand coinciding with the hottest part of the day, mid-to-late afternoon.)

The Ice Bear unit utilizes a conventional air conditioner to make ice at off hours using off-peak electricity that is sometimes sold at lower rates. The ice is stored in a large, well insulated tank. When there’s demand for air conditioning refrigerant is circulated through coils in the ice. The chilled refrigerant then flows through the building’s air-conditioning system inside the home or business to provide cooling.

During peak hours an Ice Bear, the equivalent of a 5-ton conventional air conditioner (powerful enough to cool a large house), requires only 300 watts to operate. The unit shifts 95 percent of the power needed for indoor cooling to off-peak hours.

The E3 study examines the reduction in NOx and carbon dioxide emissions in a typical Los Angeles power generation scenario: Two Ice Bear units reduce emissions equivalent to that produced by one car - like taking one car off the road.

(Other scenarios with power from different sources would have different, but likely similar results with significant cuts in emissions.)

That kind of emission reduction can be translated into significant energy savings; savings attributed to storing energy in ice with off-the-shelf, relatively simple technology.

We could start employing these machines at any time.

 

Links:

Ice Energy http://www.ice-energy.com

E3 Ventures http://www.e3ventures.com

 

 

 

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