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John O | October 2018

German institutions establish NADINE for studying power-plant-level thermal energy storage

By Josh Perry, Editor


German research institutes, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Stuttgart University, have agreed to work together on developing power-plant-scale energy storage systems and recently established NADINE (the National Demonstrator for Isentropic Energy Storage) to be the research infrastructure.


Test facility for liquid metals at KIT. One of the objectives of NADINE is to study their use in thermal energy storage systems. (Karsten Litfin/KIT)


The facility, according to a report from KIT, will be built in Karlsruhe and Stuttgart and will be used to study the use of liquid metals, which have high heat transfer properties, in novel thermal energy storage systems.


“Big challenges facing the society, such as the energy transition, can only be mastered by joining forces and close cooperation,” says Professor Oliver Kraft, KIT Vice-President for Research, in a press release from the institute. “I am very happy that we will be able to contribute our expertise in the area of liquid metal technologies to NADINE. Together with our partners, we will decisively push the development of the urgently required power-plant-scale energy storage systems.” 


Due to the expense and lack of durability of battery storage systems that are currently in use, power plants need loss-free energy storage systems with high capacities.


“A very promising concept for an isentropic storage system is the Carnot battery,” the report explained. “Here, electrical power is converted into heat with the help of heat pumps and, if necessary, back into electricity. Implementation of such heat storage power plants on the large scale is feasible when using the existing infrastructure of decommissioned coal power plants.”


Stuttgart will house a laboratory for studying systems up to 700°C and will test innovative concepts of Carnot batteries using heat and cold storage systems, heat engines, and heat pumps. The use of liquid metals up to 600°C will be studied in the Karlsruhe facility.


The article continued, “At the NADINE laboratories, heat sinks and heat sources will be made available via a ‘heat platform.’ Here, individual components and complete isentropic energy systems will be studied similar to work in a wind tunnel. Researchers will test how the different storage units have to be designed, which materials are suited, and how the individual components interact in the best possible way.”

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