February 23, 2023: Shell is providing US$400,000 in funding to speed-up completion of a pilot project by MGA Thermal Energy Storage that will use blocks made of graphite and aluminium to store thermal energy.
Shell’s GameChanger seed-funding division will provide the funding for the 5MWh project at MGA’s head office in New South Wales, Australia. The unit will have charging and discharging at up to 500kW of nameplate thermal power for 10 hours.
MGA said its technology can deliver sustained high-temperature heat or electricity that is safe, low cost, sustainable, and high capacity.
The pilot unit, which will deploy MGA’s proprietary ‘miscibility gap alloy’ technology [the storage medium], is about 12 metres in length and 3m wide. It will produce performance data and provide a tangible demonstration of the technology for prospective industrial and power customers, MGA said.
Data gathered will cover the charging and discharging behaviour, fluid dynamics and temperature distributions and validate the efficacy of mid-to-long-term thermal storage in a practical system.
The blocks are designed with two key materials. Tiny metal alloy particles dispersed through a matrix material melt as the blocks are heated and energy is absorbed, while the matrix material remains solid and keeps the molten particles in place.
The energy is stored in the solid-to-liquid phase change and is released as the blocks cool and the particles become solid again.
According to MGA, the blocks can be made using recycled materials and can be recycled at the end of their long lifetime.
Mark Croudace, MGA’s chief commercial officer, said: “Our technology is attractive for those looking to decarbonize, with a high potential impact in the medium to long-duration energy storage sector.”
Croudace said Shell’s funding, in addition to AUD1.26 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, will allow the company to get the project up and running this year.