The solar company United Sun Systems (USS) has licensed thermal energy storage technology developed at Savannah River National Lab to provide a solar battery solution for large-scale solar energy production.
USS intends to use the new, metal hydride-based tech to produce renewable energy at a lower cost than existing fossil fuels. The new technology works through chemical compounds containing metals bonded to hydrogen, creating an efficient method of heat storage in chemical bonds. Such hydride materials offer dense sources for storage of thermal energy, yet are relatively inexpensive and rechargeable–without the degradation that sometimes comes with such storage.
“Prior to the discovery of this class of hydride materials, storing heat at this temperature was only possible using expensive and highly corrosive materials,” Dr. Ragaiy Zidan, an advisory scientist with Savannah River and inventor of the technology, said. “This is a game-changing technology for the concentrated solar power sector that will drastically reduce its cost and improve its performance.”
USS solar energy tech utilizes a 14-meter diameter, concentrated solar thermal power dish that focuses solar rays to create temperatures of 750 degrees Celsius. That energy will now be stored in the Savannah River batteries, which in turn power a heat engine to create electricity through a generator.
“This partnership will allow us to deploy large-scale solar energy production that will revolutionize the industry,” Lars Jacobsson, CEO of USS, said. “With this technology, we will create more than 2,500 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. during the first five years of system production with many more jobs created through energy production.”