Automotive

Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage

13 June 2018

Volvo has donated truck engines to the University of Nottingham project. Source: Volvo/University of Nottingham Volvo has donated truck engines to the University of Nottingham project. Source: Volvo/University of Nottingham Researchers at the University of Nottingham, UK, are converting end-of-life Volvo Truck engines into machines that compress air using renewable energy. The air can then be expanded to generate energy when needed.

These machines could charge electric bus and truck fleets, and deployment of 200,000 converted engines is theorized to contribute to 50GW of nationwide renewable energy storage after 2030. The researchers are repurposing engine blocks, crankshafts, connecting rods, pistons and crankshaft bearings into reversible compressor–expander machines. The devices will form the low-pressure stage of a three-stage 250 kW train.

The reversible compressor/expander machines can be realized at relatively low cost per unit of power rating.

Re-manufactured engine hardware from Volvo Trucks is being gifted to the university where engineering researchers will adapt the parts and incorporate them into new compression/expansion machines. The project will run until August 2019.

To contact the author of this article, email sue.himmelstein@ieeeglobalspec.com


Powered by CR4, the Engineering Community

Discussion – 16 comments

By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and Terms of Use.
Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#1
2018-Jun-14 8:24 AM

So, they want to burn diesel to store energy via compressed air? Not sure I see the advantage to that? Taking diesel off the road, to burn it in a centralized location, while driving up the cost of the energy conversion-storage cycle?

And how is this an advantage? Is this just a way of funneling money into unneeded research?

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#2
In reply to #1
2018-Jun-14 9:52 AM

"Researchers at the University of Nottingham, UK are converting end-of-life Volvo Truck engines into machines that compress air using renewable energy. The air can then be expanded to generate energy when needed."

Renewable energy, not more diesel.

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#3
In reply to #2
2018-Jun-14 10:00 AM

Where does the energy come from to compress the air?

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#4
In reply to #3
2018-Jun-14 2:56 PM

Well, the quote is: Renewable.

My guesses: hydro-electric, windmills, biomass burning, tidal.

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#5
In reply to #4
2018-Jun-14 3:17 PM

Oh, now I see. Low power resources.

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#7
In reply to #5
2018-Jun-16 9:16 AM

Why are they 'low power' resources?

If, for example, hydro is available all 24 hrs a day, why not store the energy at low demand times and use it later, even if the conversion efficiency is not the greatest? Same for wind farms and tidal.

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#8
In reply to #7
2018-Jun-18 8:24 AM

T-Boone Pickens once commented that Wind Energy was his biggest mistake. It looks cheap until you consider the low amount of power per acre of land, plus the maintenance cost of windmills.

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#9
In reply to #8
2018-Jun-18 8:50 AM

Mr Pickens was a mystery as far as I was concerned, so I had to look him up.

A take-over king and (presumably) asset-stripper?

Energy is still expensive in the world in general, so the logic applied inside the USA to investment in energy generation does not necessarily apply elsewhere.

In Europe (with a population roughly equivalent to the USA) Government grants often apply to generation projects but, ultimately, business processes must apply and the cost of generation ultimately has to meet commercial criteria.

Windmills: population densities in Western Europe are high and, as a result, big wind farms are often built off shore, allowing very large arrays in areas too shallow for larger ships and where disruption can be limited.

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#10
In reply to #9
2018-Jun-18 9:15 AM

Europe's finances are a mess. And for a reason.

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#13
In reply to #10
2018-Jun-18 12:55 PM

...and how much indebtedness is there between the USA and China?

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#15
In reply to #13
2018-Jun-18 2:25 PM

I was thinking more about income tax.

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#16
In reply to #15
2018-Jun-18 3:43 PM

?

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#11
In reply to #8
2018-Jun-18 12:12 PM

Why are wind farms quoting the cheapest KwHr?

One windmill uses only a few M square. Irrelevant the acreage - it can go on growing cows.

What current info do you have on maintenance? I imagine they must be getting very good now - perhaps an annual grease & oil change, bearings abt 5 - 10 years?

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#12
In reply to #11
2018-Jun-18 12:39 PM

From:

http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/the-hidden-costs-of-wind-power/

"According to the American Tradition Institute, there are numerous hidden costs to wind power, including the cost of back-up power, the cost of extra transmission, and the cost of favorable tax benefits. And, the assumption of a 30-year life used in government calculations for wind power is optimistic given reports from European countries that have invested early in wind power.[vi] Including these hidden costs in calculating the cost of wind power increases its cost by a factor of 1.5 or 2, depending on the power system that is used as back-up. The Institute calculates that ratepayers are paying an extra $8.5 to $10 billion a year for wind power compared to natural gas-fired generation, and this will only grow as more capacity is added. Add to this the more than $12 billion that the American taxpayer is paying for the ‘one-year’ extension for the PTC, and one can see that the wind industry is getting a real boondoggle at the expense of taxpayers and ratepayers."

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#14
In reply to #12
2018-Jun-18 12:57 PM

& fossil fuels get no subsidies?

Re: Old Diesel Engines Resurrected for Renewable Energy Storage
#6
2018-Jun-16 2:49 AM

Storage ain't gunna be cheap. Then there is the efficiency -

Engineering Newsletter Signup
Get the Engineering360
Stay up to date on:
Our flagship newsletter covers all the technologies engineers need for new product development across disciplines and industries.
Advertisement
Advertisement

Upcoming Events

Advertisement