The University of Birmingham’s cryogenic energy storage (CES) pilot facility is operational. A project of the Birmingham Energy Institute, it’s the UK’s first dedicated research facility for energy storage using cryogenic liquids. The technology is also sometimes referred to as Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES).

A CES system uses renewables inputs such as solar power or wind energy and/or off-peak electricity to liquefy air; which is drawn from the plant’s immediate surroundings. The cryogenic liquid is stored at an incredibly low temperatures; below -190C. 700 litres of ambient air becomes 1 litre of liquid air after this process. When electricity is needed, the liquid is pumped to a high pressure (150 bar), vapourised into a gas, and then superheated using heat and waste heat if available. From there, it goes through an expansion process in a turbine to generate electricity.

This project was originally the Highview Pilot Plant and was relocated to the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage. The pilot project was operated for four years before being donated to the University and Re-Commissioned at its new location on December 11, 2015.

Liquid Air Energy Storage