Energy storage system converts heat to backup power

A new energy storage technology that provides extended runtimes of lead-acid batteries without the typical shortcomings of these cells has been developed by Active Power, Inc.

09/27/2004


A new energy storage technology that provides extended runtimes of lead-acid batteries without the typical shortcomings of these cells has been developed by Active Power, Inc . The manufacturer of battery-free backup power products announced its thermal and compressed air storage (TACAS) technology will be incorporated into its newest offering, CleanSource XR, which will be available as an alpha prototype unit late this year.



CleanSource XR (left) incorporates thermal and compressed air storage technology to provide extended runtimes without the shortcomings of lead-acid batteries. Standard thermal storage unit supplies 15 min. of backup at full power, 2 hours at low power. Rated at 85 kW per system, the unit supports 100 k VA/80 kW UPS system. Output is 360-540 V dc. The product will begin shipping as an alpha unit late this year.

The product stores energy as heat and compressed air. During a utility outage, compressed air is routed through a thermal storage unit to acquire heat energy. Heated air spins a simple turbine-alternator to produce electric power. Air exiting the turbine is below room temperature and can be used to cool the protected load. Tanks that store the compressed air become cold during discharge and absorb ambient heat that can be converted into additional backup power. System also features a small, continuous-duty flywheel that handles small fluctuations in power and, in the event of an extended outage, supports the critical load during the brief period required for the air turbine to reach full speed.

According to Joe Pinkerton, chairman and CEO of Active Power, the product “transforms what customers don’t want—heat in their data centers or telecom huts—into the reliable backup power they do want.”

TACAS technology is expected to be competitive in cost and footprint with the lead-acid batteries used almost universally in UPS systems, says the manufacturer, but without the HazMat or other environmental issues associated with these cells. The new system will handle the same range of ambient temperatures and step-loads as the company’s flywheel-based products, and provide up to 15 min. of backup power at full load. The system can be configured to provide up to several hours of backup power for lighter loads.

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jeanine Katzel, Senior Editor
jkatzel@reedbusiness.com





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