Environment

The Solar Energy System Running on Recycled Aluminum Instead of Batteries

Azelio's thermal energy storage system lets people keep the solar power generated during the day to use when the sun goes down.

03.04.2020 | by Reve Fisher
Photo by Matt Eberle in Unsplash
Photo by Matt Eberle in Unsplash

Renewable energy has long been touted as one of the solutions to fight climate change. However, when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, these energy systems are often forced to use not-so-clean sources of energy, such as diesel generators or batteries.

“There’s going to be a greater need for energy storage as more renewables come online, primarily because of the variable nature of the fuel that powers the wind farms and solar farms,” explained Roger Lin of NEC Energy Solutions. “It’s not as controllable, obviously, as a fossil fuel generator is.”

Azelio, a Swedish renewable energy startup, is working to solve this age-old problem in the world of renewable power. The company has developed a thermal energy storage system that lets users keep the energy generated by their standard PV solar panels, allowing them to use the energy at night.

“Solar energy that is generated during the day can now be efficiently converted into electricity 24/7,” said executive chairman Bo Denkis. “This opens up a life-changing possibility for the 1.2 billion people living in smaller societies along the earth’s sun belt.”

Instead of using the expensive minerals needed to generate batteries, Azelio uses recycled aluminum, which emits nothing and is cheaper than lithium.

First, solar panels absorb photons that are entered into a platform where an aluminum alloy is heated up to 600 degrees Celsius, turning the substance from a solid to a liquid. This maximises the energy density, allowing the energy to be stored for a long time.

This thermal energy is transferred from storage to a “Stirling engine” using a heat transfer fluid. According to the company, the Stirling engine controls a generator that produces electricity on demand—with zero emissions and low costs.

Azelio’s technology is maximised for solar energy, but other forms of renewable energy, such as hydropower, biofuels and wind, can also be used with the system.

“Our system can give you decentralised power based on solar and wind so you can build a local micro-grid that provides you with almost everything you need 24 hours a day,” explained Azelio CEO Jonas Eklind.

This technology has much potential in industries, communities and private homes throughout the world. In places where grid reliability is low, the Azelio system may provide unbridled access to electricity—all while using a sustainable, inexpensive energy solution.

“Thanks to our solution they can now power their everyday lives and light up the darkness in a way that was impossible before,” said Eklind. “We are also providing a reliable way forward for countless enterprises in remote locations around the world. Renewable electricity in its purest form is readily available exactly when it is needed. The opportunity for sustainable growth has never been greater.”

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