Photoncycle targets low-cost energy storage with a clever hydrogen solution

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For years, nan star power assemblage has grappled pinch interseasonal power storage. The expertise to harness nan surplus star power of summertime months for usage during nan wintertime has remained an elusive goal, pinch existing solutions for illustration batteries falling short owed to prohibitive costs and constricted lifespans. Hydrogen, meanwhile, contempt its clean-burning properties, has been sidelined owed to inefficiency and precocious costs.

Photoncycle — a startup emerging from nan depths of an accelerator successful Oslo Science Park successful Oslo, Norway — has been moving connected a solution. With a imagination arsenic agleam arsenic nan summertime sun, nan startup claims its coagulated hydrogen-based exertion tin shop power much efficiently successful an ammonia synthesis reactor. The declare is this tech does nan retention much cost-effectively than immoderate artillery aliases liquid hydrogen solution connected nan market.

A schematic of really Photoncycle envisions its afloat strategy erstwhile installed astatine a house. Image Credits: Photoncycle

“Lithium-ion batteries usage costly metals. Our worldly is ace cheap: To shop 10,000 kilowatt-hours, it costs astir $1,500, truthful it’s almost nothing. In addition, our retention solution is 20 times nan density of a lithium-ion battery, and you don’t suffer nan current,” laminitis and CEO Bjørn Brandtzaeg explains successful an question and reply pinch TechCrunch. “That intends we person a strategy wherever you tin incorporate power complete time, enabling seasonal storage. It’s a wholly different point than accepted batteries.” 

Photoncycle employs h2o and energy to nutrient hydrogen. That successful itself isn’t uncommon if you’ve been pursuing substance compartment conveyance technology. However, nan company’s attack incorporates an innovative twist: a reversible high-temperature substance cell. This precocious substance compartment tin nutrient hydrogen and make energy wrong nan aforesaid unit. 

The halfway of Photoncycle’s invention lies successful its curen of hydrogen. They process nan hydrogen and past utilize its exertion to person and shop it successful a coagulated form. The institution claims this retention method is not only safe, owing to nan non-flammable and non-explosive quality of nan coagulated state, but besides highly efficient. It enables hydrogen retention astatine densities astir 50% greater than liquid hydrogen, presenting a important advancement successful hydrogen retention solutions. These innovations shape nan cornerstone of Photoncycle’s system, facilitating safe and dense hydrogen storage, which nan institution says is simply a immense measurement guardant successful power technology.

Current cleanable power solutions specified arsenic rooftop star powerfulness are constricted by inconsistent proviso owed to nan unpredictable quality of upwind conditions. A robust, reusable power retention solution could span these timings, ensuring a unchangeable power proviso erstwhile these renewable sources brushwood unavoidable intermittent periods. 

Great successful theory, but not without its ain challenges.

“The Netherlands is nan state successful Europe pinch nan highest density of rooftop solar. We are seeing a monolithic ramp now because of precocious power prices; everyone wants star connected nan roof,” Brandtzaeg says. He adds, however, that this method tin backfire for homeowners: “In July past year, successful nan Netherlands, successful nan mediate of nan day, you had to salary €500 a megawatt hr to export your electricity.”

Putting nan power retention on pinch nan location generating nan powerfulness efficaciously lets houses spell off-grid. Photoncycle says it has tested and worked nan main components of its solution — nan adjacent measurement is to merge it into a system. If successful, nan institution says it tin earnestly situation Powerwall, Tesla’s lithium-ion artillery solution.

David Gerez, CTO astatine Photoncycle, and Ole Laugerud, who is simply a Photoncycle chemist, successful Photoncycle’s purpose-built lab, which has been operational for adjacent to 2 years. Image Credits: Photoncycle

“This is simply a comparatively analyzable strategy — that’s why we person truthful galore PhDs successful different disciplines moving connected this. The logic why Elon Musk said that hydrogen is stupid, is that erstwhile you person energy to hydrogen and back, you are losing rather a spot of energy,” Brandtzaeg says. He believes his institution tin move this bug into a feature. “In a residential mounting wherever 70% of power needs are heating, location is an opportunity to usage that excess power to supply basking water. We will target markets wherever group are utilizing earthy state for heating astatine nan infinitesimal and past switch nan state boiler successful nan location utilizing nan existing water-based infrastructure.”

Brandtzaeg’s assurance regarding nan concept’s operational model is compelling. He gestured toward a mini mock-up of their operations works wrong their labs, scaled down to nan size of a car battery. Brandtzaeg believes this scaling should beryllium problem-free, citing it arsenic nan superior logic they felt assured moving guardant pinch nan project. 

When it comes to powerfulness delivery, it takes a small while for nan hydrogen to make electricity, truthful while it is spooling up, nan institution relies connected an intermediary, much conventional, artillery for load balancing. The patient surely has investors’ attention: Photoncycle just raised $5.3 cardinal (€5 million) to build its first fewer powerfulness retention devices successful Denmark, which Photoncycle has chosen arsenic its trial market. 

“We could person raised 10 times arsenic overmuch arsenic we did, fixed nan interest. But aft this raise, I’m still a mostly owner,” Brandtzaeg says. “I wanted to support power complete nan business arsenic agelong arsenic imaginable and not raise much superior than we request to bring this work to market.”