A versatile household energy device capable of power generation, power storage, air conditioning, heating, and hydrogen-fuel charging has been developed, ready to hit the market in 18 months.
The device, dubbed CLES (Chemical Looping Energy-on-Demand System), was developed jointly by the University of Newcastle (UoN) of Australia and Infratech Industries, an Australian firm, and unveiled in April 2017, targeting installation at hospitals, retirement villages, and similar-sized commercial buildings, capable of air conditioning, oxygen/hydrogen generation, power generation, and power storage.
The system is based around a reduction-oxidation reaction, with a canister of a specially blended particle mixture that critically gains and loses electrons. When those particles oxidize, they heat up, creating steam that drives a turbine to generate power and then, when they reduce again, they release oxygen that can be collected. Behdad Moghtaderi, professor at UoN and inventor of the concept for the device, notes that with reduction being a heat-absorbing reaction and oxygen a heat-releasing one, the device can drive the cycle, using natural gas, power, and renewable energy.
The development team points out that materials of the patented core crystal of the device are priced at only US$112 per metric ton, featuring small-amount and enduring consumption. The crystal will be put in a cartridge, good for use for six months to two years.
In addition to power and oxygen, CLES can generate heat for use by buildings. Via adjustment of process, its can generate hydrogen as fuel for hydrogen fuel cell, at cost only 75% that of similar Tesla product.
CLES operates in two modes. It can be used as a large-scale cell, as a standby power source in case of power outage. Different from common household energy-storage device, it boasts multiple functions, capable of providing power, oxygen, and hot water, on top of air conditioning.
The second mode is "energy on demand," under which the system would use natural gas to conduct stable oxidation reduction continuously. With its natural gas-power conversion rate standing at 45% now, CLES can avoid disruption of power supply and lower reliance on grid, in addition to cutting CO2 emission by one third.
In addition to saving on power bill, CLES will enable residents to sell extra oxygen or hydrogen, which will be collected and stored in gas bottles for use in hospitals and retirement villages.
A prototype, manufactured by a UoN factory, boasts 30 KW capacity, capable of generating 720 KWh daily, sufficient for use by 30-40 families.
Moghtaderi reports that the team is developing a miniaturized version, containing miniaturized reactor and other components, with size similar to that of a small refrigerator, scheduled for rollout in 18 months. It will outperform similar Tesla product, at only 75% of the latter's cost, capable of recouping cost within one and a half years. Household CLES is expected to carry a price tag of US$4,500, lower than US$6,000 of Powerwall.
(Written by Daisy Chuang; Photo courtesy of Infratech Industries)