Energy Storage

NYPA participates in thermal storage project

Purchase College, part of New York State’s university system, will benefit from a grant for a research and development project that aims to demonstrate the capabilities of thermal energy storage.

The project is being funded by a $1 million grant from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation, with additional contributions from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Brenmiller Energy of Israel.

“It is both a development and a demonstration project,” Steven Wilkie, the NYPA engineer who heads the project, said. “The intent of the project is to develop and assess the performance of the technology and serve as a reference point. Under the agreement with the College, developers and customers interested in the technology will have the ability to tour the facility when it comes online in about two years.”

From the perspective of the BIRD Foundation, the project will help promote its goal of commercializing Israeli start-up companies. The foundation was established in 1977 by the U.S. and Israeli governments.

For New York, the project will contribute to low electricity prices and support new technologies, as well as help support New York State’s long-term energy plans such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, Alan Ettlinger, director of research, technology development and innovation at NYPA, said.

The project will use combined heat and power (CHP) technology (also called cogeneration) and enhance it. Instead of capturing the exhaust gas as it exits the turbine for use in a heat recovery steam generator, the exhaust gas will be piped to a Brenmiller bGen thermal storage unit that can extract and store the heat until it is needed. The storage unit is intended to charge and discharge on a 24-hour cycle, Wilkie said.

Specifications of the project, such as its size and whether to use a reciprocating engine or a micro turbine, are still being worked out, Wilkie said. “We have to evaluate the size of the CHP and storage unit relative to the thermal needs of the facility,” he said.

The ballpark figure for the CHP size is in the range of 200 kW to 250 kW.

The electricity will power the gym at Purchase College, and the thermal energy will be used for building heating, heating of domestic hot water and heating of the gym’s pool.

The completed project should have an efficiency level close to that of a CHP plant, but provide the operator with more flexibility, said Wilkie. To reach maximum efficiency from a standard CHP plant, the electrical load and thermal load have to coincide. Since that is often not the case, efficiency levels can drop. Being able to store the thermal energy provides the operators the flexibility to more accurately match loads, which enhances efficiency.

The demonstration project, which will run for five years, is being installed at no cost to the college.