19 April 2016

Commercial fridge useThe University of South Australia has been awarded $1m by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to develop a low cost energy storage solution using phase change material (PCM), which is set to benefit the commercial and industrial refrigeration market.

A PCM is a substance which, melting and solidifying at a certain temperature, is capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy.

The ARENA funding will be used in a project by the Thermal Energy Storage Group at UniSA’s Barbara Hardy Institute, in partnership with Glaciem Cooling Technologies, the Solar Project Pty. Ltd., University of Lleida, Spain, and Newcastle University International Singapore, which is aimed at optimising the control and operation of PCM thermal energy storage systems integrated with solar photovoltaics (PV).

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Frank Bruno, described the project as having the potential to significantly increase the uptake of low-cost clean renewable energy in the industrial refrigeration market, adding that a pilot-scale demonstration system will be designed and constructed by a local SA company, Glaciem Cooling Technologies.

“The project builds upon research conducted by UniSA, from which researchers were awarded the 2015 ANSTO Eureka Award for Innovative Use of Technology,”  Assoc Prof Bruno says.

“We will be working with refrigeration company Glaciem Cooling Technologies, to develop a new phase change material (PCM) aimed at reducing storage size and cost, and improving methods for charging and discharging, enabling the efficient operation of conventional refrigeration systems”.

“Optimal control will be developed to forecast solar PV output and adapt the storage system to the thermal demand from the customer while meeting contracted peak demand reduction targets.

“Optimising the control and operation of PCM thermal storage, combined with solar PV, has the potential to provide reliable and economic storage solutions in the refrigeration sector.

“The project will increase efficiencies and reduce costs for the industrial and commercial refrigeration market.”

Assoc Prof Bruno received the Eureka Prize for a new phase-change system that provides energy storage at a tenth of the cost of batteries: by melting and solidifying an inexpensive liquid salt solution, energy can be stored and released quickly and cheaply.

Contact for interviews:

Associate Professor Frank Bruno +61 8830 23230 email Frank.Bruno@unisa.edu.au

Media contact: Will Venn office +61 8830 20096 mob 0401366054 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au

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