A consortium comprised of Aggregate Industries, Innovatium and the University of Birmingham has secured funding of £350,000 from the Department for Business, Energy and Industry (BEIS) to develop liquid air energy storage (LAES) technology.

The funding from the Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) programme will be administered by the Carbon Trust. The IEEA funding will take the project from “Technology Readiness Level 5” (TRL 5) to “proven deployment in an operational environment” (TRL7), a step towards commercialising the technology.

Created by Innovatium, the LAES technology is called Peak Reduction by Integrated Storage and Management of Air (PRISMA) and stores energy in liquid air form to provide compressed air. This system means that variable-demand compressors can be turned off, increasing total system efficiency by 57%.

The PRISMA system will use a latent energy cold storage tank filled with a phase-change material (PCM), to be developed at the University of Birmingham’s school of chemical engineering.

University of Birmingham professor of chemical engineering Yulong Dong said: “PCMs can be used for the storage of both hot and cold forms of thermal energy. They are growing in importance but to date, the focus has been on hot forms of thermal energy and technology deployment has taken place outside of the United Kingdom.

“This new project focuses on cold forms of thermal energy storage, allowing us, with Innovatium, to establish a platform to deliver a global first-of-a-kind system in the U.K. with the potential to revolutionise the industrial energy space.”

The PCM system will be installed alongside other system components manufactured by Innovatium at Bardon Hill quarry in Leicestershire, which is owned by Aggregate Industries.

Aggregate Industries energy manager Richard Eaton said: “Sustainability is at the heart of our business and we are committed to leading the charge in creating a sustainable energy future for our industry. As we have seen, the onslaught of climate change demonstrates just how important it is to look at how we produce and consume energy.

“Making dramatic changes, such as investing in energy efficient solutions, is the only way to make a lasting positive impact and we are proud to stand with our partners on the PRISMA project to spearhead the installation and support of this pioneering technology.”

Innovatium CEO Simon Branch added: “We at Innovatium are delighted to be collaborating with Aggregate Industries and the University of Birmingham who are recognised global leaders in sustainability and technology, utilising BEIS funding to enable the rapid commercialisation of our PRISMA technology.

“Following the successful initial deployment at Aggregate Industries’ Bardon Hill Quarry, we anticipate the demonstration of PRISMAs energy efficiency and carbon reduction capability will show proven commercial and environmental benefits over current compressed air systems offering a cost-saving alternative.”

The compressed air market is estimated to have 1.3GW of installed electrical capacity across 4,500 sites in the UK.