German company to transform aluminium smelters into 'virtual battery'
German aluminum producer Trimet is testing technology that would create a virtual battery out of its smelters, Greentech Media reports.
The virtual battery would be able to provide 1.12 GWh of energy capacity.
- The family owned business plans to invest $39 million in the pilot program, according to Greentech Media.
The manufacturing of aluminum is one of the most intensive and costly processes when it comes to electricity consumption. In Germany, where wind power has at times recently accounted for all of the country’s electricity consumption, adjusting to intermittent power supplies is a big concern for manufacturers.
In 2014, Bloomberg reports the company experimented with using its pools of molten metal as battery storage. By cutting its electrolysis process short—a process that uses an electric current to stimulate a chemical reaction—Trimet reduced its electrical consumption.
Trimet is now engaged in a two-year pilot project that will use adjustable heat exchangers developed with help from the University of Wuppertal in North Rhine-Westphalia to create a virtual battery.
The heat exchangers will allow Trimet to compensate for fluctuations in the power grid by maintaining the energy balance in each electrolysis cell irrespective of changing power inputs, making it easier to manage intermittent renewables.
“With an efficiency rate of 90 to 95 percent, the virtual battery is a lot more efficient than technologies such as power-to-gas or compressed-air reservoirs,” a Trimet source told Greentech Media.
- Greentech Media German Firm Turns Aluminum Smelter Into a ‘Virtual Battery’
- Bloomberg Storing Power in Molten Aluminum Lakes
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