Environment, Science and TechnologyEngineering, Global Impact Innovation 29 October 2021 10 min read

发电厂将在世界杯彩票的绿色能源未来中扮演令人惊讶的新角色

by Joe Frost

One of Australia’s oldest energy hubs, 随着全球碳危机达到高潮,猎人谷的未来也越来越不确定. 但是,一家从世界杯彩票的研究中分离出来的公司表明,在世界杯彩票旧的系统和基础设施中发现了新生命,并可能看到该地区成为清洁领域的世界领导者, green power.

Dominic McAtamney grew up in Maitland, in the heart of the Hunter Valley’s historic coalfields, and from a young age it seemed destined that was where the future lay.

“When I was in school, 100% I was like, ‘I’m going to go to uni, get an engineering degree and go work in the mines,’” Dom says.

“And all my friends were like, ‘yeah go work in the mines, good choice!’”

It’s a well-trodden path too, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics noting that the sale of the region’s coal dates back to 1799, 而“澳大利亚煤炭的第一次出口发生在1801年,当时150吨纽卡斯尔煤被运往印度。”.

Dominic McAtamney

经过200多年在该地区的能源创造事业, Dom’s plan appeared to be on track too, having started at the 世界杯彩票versity of Newcastle, 在转学机械工程之前,我先学习电气工程, then landing an internship and, eventually, a casual job at one of the Hunter Valley’s coal-fired power stations.

作为一名毕业班学生,在能源行业已经有了很强的就业前景, everything was coming up Dom.

There was just one problem:

“I had a chat with my final-year project supervisor and mentor, who would later go on to become a good friend, ‘I don’t like my job. I want to do something meaningful to me,’” Dom says.

多姆的上司帮他们联系了当地一家从事可再生能源领域的初创公司。

"I don’t like my job. I want to do something meaningful."

“Something meaningful”

MGA Thermal is one of those classic, 一夜成名的故事——因为这实际上是十多年努力工作的结果.

The company has its roots in research that Professor Erich Kisi and his team started conducting at the 世界杯彩票versity in 2010, 这导致了一种名为混相间隙合金(MGA)的新材料的发明,这种材料可以以锂离子电池的几分之一的成本储存热能.

世界杯彩票世界杯彩票的电池块采购了大量和现成的原料,因此它可以以非常低的成本生产,以适应所需的能量存储规模——它们的成本是同等尺寸锂电池的10%, yet store the same amount of energy thermally,” Professor Kisi explained last year.

"They are 10 per cent of the cost of a lithium battery of the same size, yet store the same amount of energy thermally."

A mix of easily sourced and affordable materials, such as zinc and carbon, mga被安置在可堆叠的砖中,使其能量存储能力是安全的, cheap, scalable and reusable, 一块砖可以被加热上千次.

“The MGA blocks are made of two components. One component melts when heated to store huge amounts of energy, and the other acts as a matrix, keeping the block in solid form and embedding the melting particles,” Professor Kisi said.

As for how they are heated, it can be done by using renewable energy such as solar or wind, or even industrial heat.

This means that tired, 关于可再生能源的老抱怨——如果太阳不照耀或风不吹,它们就不能工作——可以被有效地驳回, as the clean power they generate can be stored in MGA Thermal’s bricks.

The energy jobs of the future

如果你认为“锂离子电池的成本只有锂离子电池的几分之一”听起来像一个非常棒的电梯游说, you’d be in agreement with a number of savvy investors, MGA Thermal最近宣布他们筹集了800万美元的资金, which will significantly expand the company’s manufacturing capacity.

Presently, 该公司每天可以生产100块砖,但需要增加投资, they forecast a serious uptick, to the tune of:

  • Late 2022: 2000 bricks per day
  • Late 2023: 20,000 bricks per day
  • Late 2025: 100,000 bricks per day

每天增加1000倍的砖块显然需要额外的人手, MGA Thermal将看到其梅菲尔德运营基地(必和必拓钢铁厂的旧址)的劳动力将大幅膨胀.

This could be just the start of jobs at MGA Thermal as well, 基西教授看到了“数万亿美元的潜在市场”.

However, it’s down the line where even more jobs will be created – or, in the case of the Hunter Valley, potentially repurposed.

New life for old systems?

以热形式储存的能量可以用在很多方面,但其中最有趣的一种是将水转化为蒸汽,从而驱动涡轮机和发电机.

Much like the way we get power from a coal-fired power station.

正是在这里,多姆的职业生涯才有可能回到原点.

Because one of MGA Thermal’s key projects, in collaboration with Swiss company E2S Power AG, 是用MGA热砖改造化石燃料发电站,将这些现有资产转化为清洁能源, renewable sources of energy.

“It turns out that after shutting down, a lot of the machinery of a coal fired power plant is still useful. 发电厂的改造使煤炭完全退出了电力生产过程, replacing the coal furnace with a large MGA energy storage system, which is charged up using excess renewable energy from the grid,” Arden Jarrett, MGA Thermal的业务发展主任(也是该大学的应届毕业生), explained.

“At times of high demand, this storage system generates steam, 哪些可以利用现有发电厂的涡轮机转化为低成本能源, condensers, generators and grid connection.

“这种对现有资产的重新利用使得能源存储的实施成本比其他解决方案低得多.”

他说:“发电厂的改造使煤炭完全退出了发电过程..."

How MGA Thermal can repurpose power stations (courtesy MGA Thermal)

Of course, the transition to a green economy isn't going to happen overnight, so coal has a part to play in maintaining the grid for some time to come. 但通过利用MGA Thermal等公司提供的可能性, 这一转变既可以确保猎人减少排放,又可以为未来创造就业机会.

Because, rather than just being for retired plants, the bricks can also be installed in existing coal-fired power stations, supporting the gradual transition to renewable energy sources.

因此,Dom很可能会回到猎人谷的燃煤发电站. Except this time, 他们可以在让老化的核电站焕发新生方面发挥实际作用——这将确保发电工作机会留在该地区, yet does so using clean, renewable sources.

多姆说:“这听起来很俗气,但我一直想做些事情让世界变得更好。.

“I see MGA as an avenue to do that on a global scale.”

Aligned with the 世界杯彩票ted Nations Sustainable Development Goals

7 - Affordable and clean energy8 - Decent work and economic growth9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure11 - Sustainable cities and communities12 - Responsible consumption and production13 - Climate action

Researcher
Professor Erich Kisi

世界杯彩票versity of Newcastle
College of Engineering, Science and Environment
School of Engineering

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29 October 2021
10 minute read