Efficient gas and electrical network management using pumped heat energy storage technology

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


The project will consider a lower cost/lower primary energy alternative to the current solution for suppling Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the National Gas Network. The process is currently carried out by burning natural gas to heat the incoming LNG up to ambient temperature, the process will be made more efficient by the integration with the electrical network thus enabling on-site power generation (rather than burning natural gas) at this point through the use of a highly efficient Pumped Heat Energy Storage (PHES) heat engine and advanced heat exchangers/thermal stores.

The key to the cycle is the PHES heat engine, which replaces the steam turbine as the 'bottoming' part of combined cycle gas turbine cycle. LNG is pressurised to grid pressure and passed through a heat exchanger where it is heated up to ambient temperature. Argon at 1 bar is used in counterflow to the LNG and is cooled down to -160 oC and then compressed to 12 bar 20 oC by the first stage of the isentropic engine. The Argon is then heated in the heat exchanger to 500 oC in counterflow with the exhaust from a gas turbine. Argon at 12 bar and 500 oC is then expanded back to near ambient temperature via the second stage of the PHES engine. The difference between compression and expansion is net work output, which is used to drive an electrical generator.

This cycle is very sensitive to the efficiency of the machinery. The PHES engine at the heart of the system is very efficient and already designed to operate over this temperature range.

By switching to Helium this cycle can be also used with other colder cryogenic liquids, such as liquid hydrogen. The cycle efficiency will increase significantly as the feed temperature drops as will the quantity of energy generated for the same amount of re-heat i.e. efficiency of combined cycle in the range of 75%-85%.

This research studentship will support the evaluation of the system for facilitating the coupling of the electrical and gas networks. The case for the potential deployment of the technology onto the £30m InteGReL facility (Integrated Electricity and Gas Research Laboratory), located in Gateshead will be considered. InteGReL is a partnership between Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and Newcastle University-lead EPSRC National Center for Energy Systems Integration (CESI). It is aimed to integrate into an energy network facilitating the storage and timely distribution of local heating, cooling and electric power needs.

The main objectives of this study are as follows:
1) To experimentally test the thermal stores, heat engine/pump and associated components.
2) To collect technical data from industrial and other relevant sources required for gas network integration into electrical network.
3) To develop a numerical model of the system, from data obtained by experimental testing, using state-of-the-art numerical ID thermodynamic models and methods.
4) To simulate and predict the system performance by considering different configurations to establish a credible technical case for the technology.
5) To estimate the cost relative to conventional and historic storage methods.
6) To determine carbon dioxide and energy savings as a result of proposed system.

A thorough literature critique will be undertaken in first 6 months. In next 12 months, flow-sheet models will be developed. A system level tool of the solution will be developed and data will be collected from relevant sources including the National Facility of PHES in 12 months. In next 12 months, the numerical analysis of the work will be done which will be facilitated by CESI who are supported by a high performance computation facility located at Edinburgh University. Finally the PhD will be written-up and submitted in 6 months.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512588/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021
1948792 Studentship EP/R512588/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Muhammad Tahir Ameen