The 6th Symposium of the SCCER Heat and Electricity Storage

On October 25th, 2017, the Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research "Heat and Electricity Storage" held its 6thSymposium in Martigny, Switzerland.
About 100 participants attended to learn from ten speakers with academic and industrial research background about the latest developments in the fields of hydrogen storage, catalyst development for CO2 reduction, development trends in oil-industry, battery research, heat storage and Power to Gas. A session with 40 posters and the tour to the Electromobilis demonstrator completed the day.

Flexibility is the key property of future de-carbonized energy systems. For electricity grids, energy storage is an element providing the required flexibility needed to integrate large capacities of fluctuating renewable energy. Considering this background, the Symposium of the SCCER Heat and Electricity Storage offered the opportunity to discuss latest results with the experts in the field.
Hydrogen, due to its flexibility and high conversion efficiency is a well suited candidate for being a future fuel in transportation and storage media for renewable electricity on a seasonal basis. The current research question in this area is focussed on electrolysis, producing hydrogen from water more efficiently by optimizing the oxygen reduction reaction. Dr. Züttel introduced the research at EPFL in context with the SCCER HaE on the development of nickel rich catalyst for water splitting, as well as the progress on the dual redox flow battery, which can be used for water splitting as well.
Besides of producing hydrogen, storing hydrogen at large volumetric densities remained also a challenge. Metal hydrides and small organic molecules, like formaldehyde or methanol have the potential to serve as hydrogen storage if the formation and decomposition reactions to or from stored fuel runs fast and efficiently. Also here the latest developments were presented.
A way to utilize a surplus of renewable electricity elegantly is the production of hydrocarbons directly from CO2 and water. This can lead to feedstock for the chemical industry and closes the carbon cycle in organic chemistry.
Dr. Broekmann demonstrated in his talk that the morphology of the catalyst influences the selectivity. Since aging affects the surface, the composition and morphology tends to change over time, thus a stable morphology is required to suppress aging.
Admitting, that this research is of fundamental nature, it is not purely academic. Dr. Huijsmans explained that Shell is strategically interested in this direction of research. The key words "Solar Fuels", "Methane to Product" and "Advance Energy Storage" (batteries) characterizes the research agenda and are the future direction of Shell.
Speaking of batteries, the first part of the afternoon was dedicated to redox flow batteries and the potential of battery manufacturing (in Switzerland). Dr. Conrad introduced the concept of organic based redox flow batteries in his talk. Due to the absence of rare metals in the electrolyte, the organic approach can be quite cost effective, which is the biggest advantage. The technology presented is in the pilot phase and a 40kW 40kWh system in the commissioning phase.
In commissioning phase as well is the pilot production line, was introduced in the talk of Dr. Fuerst and Dr. Häring. The (Swiss) battery manufacturing industry and (Swiss) academia is lacking the possibility of a reproducible production for a relevant number of battery cells on a technical scale (pouch up to A4 size) composed of research components for assessment and characterization. This gap will be closed by the introduced battery production line. Currently the installation includes a laser cutting and z-folding system.
With the talk that followed, a change of topic to heat storage and the sector coupling aspects and to demonstrators took place. Dr. Baldini presented the interaction of different energy storage and generation technologies with transportation and housing aspects. The NEST, a real size laboratory for building technology in conjunction with the Energy Hub, a multi-carrier energy system consisting of multiple energy conversion, storage and/or network technologies was introduced with a special focus on heat storage. Since about 50% of today's energy consumption is used for heat generation, the topic presented is extremely relevant for the energy system of the future.
A completely different way of electricity storage, closely linked to heat storage was the topic of Dr. Haselbacher's presentation. The comparison of simulation and experimental investigation of the worlds first advanced adiabatic compressed air storage was discussed. The challenge of the concept is the storage of the heat of compression, which increases the efficiency of conventional compressed air storage up to 70%. Since this type of storage has similar characteristics to pumped hydro storage, this concept a quite promising for mid term high efficient energy storage at reasonable cost.
Closing the cycle Coming to the topics of the morning session, talks on the small scale demonstrator at EPFL Sion and an overview of Power to Gas (methane and hydrogen) completed the program together with the guided tour to the Electromobilis demonstrator which explores different ways to produce hydrogen for car fueling purposes.

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