GKN Sinter Metals reports that a team of engineers from GKN Powder Metallurgy has launched a project to use PM technology for energy storage in residential housing applications. In an interview with Project Leader Dr Nils Bornemann on its GKN Sinter Metals Blog, the company stated that a demonstrator system showcasing the new technology is to be installed at an alpine chalet in the South Tyrolean Alps, Italy.
The new energy storage system uses metal hydride powder as a storage medium for hydrogen. Metal powders have long been acknowledged as an effective storage medium for hydrogen, which can be produced by and transferred to electrical power. However, due to the complex production and transfer process involved in metal hydride powder-based hydrogen storage, the technology has not been pursued for real-world applications and energy storage alternatives until recently.
“In the light of the strong move toward renewable resources and CO2 reduction requirements, we believe it is worth reviewing the idea,” stated Bornemann. In order to fully demonstrate the technology, the team required a mature house in which the efficiency of its energy storage system could be tested in as close to a ‘real world’ setting as possible. “If this project was only about proof of evidence of the basic concept, this could be done in one of our innovation centres,” Bornemann continued.
“A strong argument was to take a fresh look at metal hydride storage and to choose this house for our pilot. Being off-grid all year and knowing there will be less water power available in winter compared to summer is another challenge. However, the potential seasonal energy transfer is a great advantage of metal hydride based hydrogen storage compared to both conventional battery technology and regular gas hydrogen pressure tanks.
In GKN’s demonstrator system, electric energy is generated by a river-connected turbine. The system then uses some of this permanent energy flow to produce hydrogen in an electrolysis process. The hydrogen is then stored using the metal hydride powder system, and converted back into electricity as needed using a fuel cell.
Development of the system remains underway, with further coverage of the project expected on the GKN Sinter Metals Blog.