Australia commissions molten silicon energy storage system


From pv magazine Australia

Adelaide-based 1414 Degrees has commissioned a 1 MWh SiBox pilot unit that uses its SiBrick proprietary molten silicon energy storage solution to store intermittent renewable energy and produce clean, high-temperature heat for industrial settings.

The company said the SiBox is a complete thermal energy storage system, comprising a heating element and the SiBricks, which are contained within an insulated heat store, integrated with an energy recovery system. The heat is then available for use, providing a potential zero-carbon heat source for industries requiring temperatures above 800 C. This is a requirement of minerals processing and manufacturing industries – including the cement, alumina and iron and steel sectors.

The company said the commissioning phase of the demonstration unit involved extensive trials that showed the SiBox storage system’s ability to convert electric energy into a controlled hot air stream.

It said the unit had successfully undergone 32 cycles of phase change, operating at outlet temperatures ranging from 700 C to 850 C and delivering six to 12 hours continuous output at each set point.

“Data from these trials closely align with the expectations from the engineering design tools and models developed, providing confidence for scale-up designs of SiBox technology,” 1414 Degrees said. “The 1 MWh of internal SiBricks performed robustly and were found in excellent condition on visual inspection.”

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It said the demonstration unit is now operating autonomously and is ready for continuous cycling and discharge testing over the next 12 months to complete the validation phase.

“In the coming months our engineers will use the performance results from the demonstration module to design a commercial scale SiBox of up to 100 MWh,” said 1414 Degrees.

Kevin Moriarty, the chairman of 1414 Degrees, said the SiBox has been designed to be retrofitted into industry processes and offers a cost-efficient sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

“Over the next 12 months, we anticipate that SiBox will emerge as an important emissions reduction solution for the industrial sectors that manufacture the infrastructure of our societies,” Moriarty said, adding that the company os “well-positioned to make significant contributions to industries’ transition to clean energy.”

The development of the demonstration unit has been backed by oil and gas giant Woodside which contributed up to AUD 2 million ($1.3 milion) for the project. As part of that deal, Woodside now has the opportunity to jointly develop and commercialise the SiBox technology.

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