Pumped Storage Using Compressed Air Eyed in Ohio
LCG, April 26, 2001Engineers have long sought a means to store electricity, and so far have come up with two that work: batteries and pumped storage. Flywheels and other schemes haven't shown a lot of promise.Pumped storage, as it is usually practiced, consists of using inexpensive off-peak power to operate pumps that move water back up over a dam so it can run through the turbines again during periods of high demand for electricity.Now, researchers at the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories, along with Haddington Ventures of Houston, are looking at a 2,200-foot deep limestone mine near Norton, Ohio, for a different kind of pumped storage, the Environment News Service reports."The intent is to cycle air pressure into the mine using compressors during off peak electrical power at times like evenings and weekends to increase air pressure in the mine," said Sandia researcher Steve Bauer. "During the daily peak needs for electricity, air pressure will be bled off through modified combustion turbines to generate electricity. The energy is stored as pressure."The limestone is very dense with few, in any, natural fissure, Sandia researchers say. Working pressures in the mine could range between 800 and 1,600 pounds per square inch.An ad hoc Haddington subsidiary, Norton Energy Storage, will build and operate the plant, which could enter service in about two years. The facility will be built in units, with an eventual generating capacity of about 2,700 megawatts."During electric generation, some natural gas will be burned to super expand the compressed air," Bauer said. "When at its full production stage of 2,700 megawatts, it will produce the same amount of emissions as a 600 megawatt gas powered combustion turbine power plant."During off-peak hours, when air compressors are rebuilding those high pressures in the mine, they will get their power from conventional power plants, which in Ohio means coal-burners.
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