Collaboration between NYPA, Brenmiller Energy yields unique thermal energy storage project

Published on June 25, 2018 by Chris Galford

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Purchase College, State University of New York, will gain a free replacement for their aging central heating plant in coming years, thanks to a collaborative thermal energy storage project from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Brenmiller Energy.

The two companies are uniting to research thermal energy storage means of increasing efficiency in standard combined heat and power systems. The research and development opportunity was offered to the university free of charge, so long as they gave the companies a place to test it. According to their projections, that decision could end up saving the university as much as $100,000 annually.

During a Q&A with the Energy Storage Association, Alan Ettlinger, director of research, technology development and innovation at the NYPA, along with Steven Wilkie, senior research and technology development engineer for the NYPA, said that the approach involves sensible heat storage.

“However, Brenmiller Energy’s technology involves a unique configuration where the storage media, heat exchangers, and steam generator are integrated in a single modular unit, where the storage medium (crushed rock) allows for the operation at much higher temperatures and pressures to achieve a higher energy density in a more efficient and cost-competitive manner,” Ettlinger and Wilkie said. “The approach differs from traditional thermal storage applications, which are constrained both in downscaling (e.g., molten salt) and operation at higher temperatures and pressures (e.g., concrete). The intent here is to demonstrate increased efficiency of storage-based CHP compared to standard CHP, and the ability to productize the solution at a scale of single MW, which has been the barrier of thermal storage technology.”

Brenmiller Energy is an Israeli developer and manufacturer of thermal energy storage systems. The New York Power Authority gave them an opening to the area, and they hope that together they can create a more energy efficient system which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. To that end, it has received a $1 million grant from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.

The effort also fits into the greater vision Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced to New York in recent years, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time.