A novel approach to energy storage by University of Cordoba
by Robert Schreiber
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Nov 21, 2023
In a groundbreaking development in the realm of renewable energy storage, the University of Cordoba has announced an innovative energy storage system, named iOWC, which stands as a potential game-changer in the field. This system, a result of collaborative efforts across multiple departments at the University, represents a significant stride towards addressing the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
The iOWC system, developed by researchers Antonio Martin Alcantara, Jose Luis Aranda Hidalgo, Alberto Jimenez Solano, and Antonio Sarsa Rubio, is designed to store and release energy in accordance with market demands, using a cylindrical tank immersed in water. This approach is fundamentally different from traditional battery storage methods, which often suffer from environmental and material constraints.
Antonio Martin, one of the researchers, explained the mechanics of the system: “It consists of a cylindrical tube with a disc that divides it into two chambers: an upper one with water, and a lower one with air.” He detailed the energy storage process, highlighting how the disc moves down to compress air under hydrostatic pressure, thereby storing energy. This stored energy is later released to drive a turbine during the energy release phase, marking an efficient method of harnessing and utilizing power.
What sets the iOWC system apart is its innovative approach to energy storage. It revisits and inverses the principle of the Oscillating Water Column (OWC), traditionally used in wave energy conversion. Unlike OWC, which captures energy from ocean waves, iOWC focuses on storing and releasing energy, demonstrating versatility and potential for broad applications.
The project’s physicists, Alberto Jimenez Solano and Antonio Sarsa Rubio, have played a crucial role in ensuring the system’s theoretical feasibility. They have employed conservation equations to define the practical dimensions necessary for the system’s design and future implementation. This scientific rigor is evident in the care taken to optimize design conditions, considering factors like the aspect ratio of the cylinder and the size of the air outlet hole to maximize energy and power efficiency while minimizing potential oscillations in the cylinder’s disc.
Jose Luis Aranda Hidalgo, who registered the invention inspired by this study as Utility Model (ES-1291145-Y), emphasized the system’s market responsiveness. “The device has been designed to store energy during periods of low prices and for recovery during peak ones,” he stated, underscoring the economic as well as environmental benefits of this innovative system. The development of the iOWC system by the University of Cordoba marks yet another advance in the quest for sustainable and efficient energy storage solutions. This approach promises to mitigate the environmental impacts associated with traditional battery materials.