Making renewable energy reliable
One of the major challenges of renewable energy is how to provide electricity when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing.
Advanced storage technologies
We have been pursuing energy storage, including battery technologies, for more than 20 years. We are conducting significant research to overcome the challenges of intermittency, storage and dispatch of electricity generated from solar and wind energy.
Our mechanical, chemical and electrical engineers and numerical modelers are working in the solar thermal (mirror) arena to look at a range of potential solutions. These include storing heat in oil, molten salts, high-temperature ceramics and as chemical reactants.
Our research includes the CSIRO-developed UltraBattery. This battery is an advanced system which can store solar electricity produced by photovoltaic (PV) cells.
Our work in energy storage also includes research into:
- high performance batteries
- fuel cells.
Expertise in battery technologies
Our expertise for modelling, synthesis, fabrication and testing of battery technology includes: fabrication, prototypes, anodes, thin electrolytes, packaging, costing, modular design; knowledge of leading edge battery technology; optimising operating window, energy and power densities.
Distributed energy is a major research area for us. The concept of distributed energy involves the local generation of power, heat and cooling using emerging gas technologies and integrating with selected renewables and traditional generation. We work in collaboration with the Centre for Distributed Energy and Power (CenDEP) and showcase various distributed energy technologies at our Energy Centre. For example microturbine gas engines roughly the size of a household refrigerator are being demonstrated at the Centre to examine co-generation.
Applications and spin-offs
Our research has created a number of commercial opportunities that have led to license agreements and the formation of spin-off companies:
- Furukawa Battery: We have been working with Furukawa Battery since 2005 on the development and commercialisation of the UltraBattery
- East Penn: Our UltraBattery technology will soon reach North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) markets through US battery manufacturer East Penn Manufacturing Co. Inc
- Cap-XX Pty Ltd: Our supercapacitor technology is being commercialised by Cap-XX Pty Ltd, which develops high power, high energy supercapacitors in thin, flat, prismatic packages
- Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited (CFCL): We formed CFCL in partnership with a consortium of leading energy and industrial companies. CFCL is a world leader in developing solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology.