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LiquidAirMediaCoverage20121320May2013MITTechnologyReviewLiqueedAirCouldPowerCarsandStoreEnergyfromSunandWind-Page2werelookingforsomethingthatsbasedonextremelylow-costmaterialsandverysimpleprocesseswecandoinbulksaysHareshKamathprogrammanagerforenergystorageattheElectricPowerResearchInstitute.Andthiscertainlyfitsthebill.Theideadatesbacktothe1890swhenaninventornamedCharlesTriplerdeclaredthatheddevelopedaverylow-costwaytocooldownairuntilitbecamealiquid.Healsoshowedthattheliquefiedaircouldbeusedtorunasteamengine.Triplerreceivedagreatdealofpressattentionatthetimeandwasabletoraisealargeamountofmoneytobringthetechnologytomarket.Iteventuallybecameclearhoweverespeciallyafterinvestorslosttheirshirtsthathedexaggeratedthebenefitsofhisapproach.Sincethentheprocessofliquefyingairhasbeenmademuchmoreefficientandtheneedfornewenergystorageoptionshascompelledasecondlook.HighviewPowersprocessis50to60percentefficienttheliquidaircanyieldjustoverhalfasmuchelectricityasittakestomakeit.Batteriesbycontrastcanbemorethan90percentefficient.ButthenewprocesscanmakeupforitsinefficiencybyusingwasteheatfromotherprocessesseeAuditoMakeFuelUsingSolarPower.Highviewhasdemonstratedthatlow-temperaturewasteheatfrompowerplantsorevendatacenterscanbeusedtohelpwarmuptheliquefiedair.Thesystemcanalsolastfordecadeswhilebatteriestypicallyneedtobereplacedeveryfewyears.Thislongevitycouldhelpreduceoverallcosts.SeveralcompaniesaredevelopingwaystoimprovetheefficiencyofcompressingairwhichcouldalsomaketheliquefactionprocessmoreefficientseeLightSailEnergySnags37MinFundingandCompressed-AirSystemCouldAidWindPower.Liquefiedairisaboutfourtimesmoreenergy-densethancompressedairandstoringitatalargescaletakesuplessspace.Liquidairmightalsoproveusefulincarsandtrucks.AninventornamedPeterDearmanhasmadeacompactsystemthatinsteadofrelyingonlargeheatexchangersusesantifreezeinjectedintoanenginescombustionchambertorecycleheatthatwouldotherwisebewasted.Hebuiltaramshackleprototypeandshowedthatitcouldpoweracar.Ricardoisworkingonaversionthatcouldeventuallybecommercialized.Liquidairstoresenergyataboutthedensityofnickelmetalhydridebatteriesandsomelithium-ionbatteriesthekindusedinhybridandelectriccarsnow.ButithasakeyadvantageitcanbepouredintoafueltankfarfasterthanabatterycanberechargedsaysAndrewAtkinsaseniortechnologistatRicardo.Theenginewouldrunonliquidnitrogenbasicallyliquidairwiththeoxygenremovedandwouldemitonlynitrogen.Thecarbonemissionsassociatedwiththeenginewoulddependonthepowersourceusedtoliquefythenitrogen.Ricardoisalsodevelopingadieselenginethatsaugmentedwithliquidnitrogentoimproveitsefficiencybyabout50percent.