EnergyTech innovations and Startups

Energy Storage: sand battery technology made in Italy, the very first application

Latest developments for the Magaldi Green Thermal Energy Storage system

And today the Magaldi Green Thermal Energy Storage (MGTES) system is getting ready to demonstrate its value by aiding the decarbonization of a number of industrial processes on a national scale. A recent agreement between Magaldi Power and Enel X to locate and construct the first plants in Italy gave rise to the initiative.

The initial submission? It will be next to the IGI vegetable oil refinery in the province of Salerno, which is a supplier to the Ferrero Group. Special MGTES sand batteries will be placed here in addition to a 5 MW PV system to ensure a daily storage capacity of 13 thermal MWh. By the time the system is fully operational in the second half of 2024, the corporation will have cut its energy usage by 20%.

Innovation and sustainability are the strategic levers of decarbonisation”, said Francesco Venturini, Head of Enel X. “Today we have a further confirmation thanks to the MGTES system, which takes a step forward in the field of accumulations, being able to ensure great efficiency even for industrial processes that require high temperatures; all thanks to Italian technology, in turn supported by an Italian supply chain, whose exceptional results pave the way for promising development opportunities also abroad”.

Sand batteries, what they are and how they work

The innovative sand batteries from the Magaldi Group provide both short- and long-term thermal storage and are intended for large-scale energy storage applications. Their nickname alludes to the foundational component of technology: silica sand. It is a kind of sand that has been used for a very long time in both construction and gardening. It is produced throughout time by the erosion of river banks. It is heated to much over 600 oC in the MGTES system. The resulting thermal energy is then utilised to create steam. The latter can be used to power industrial thermal operations between 120 and 400 would-be or supplied straight to electric turbines.

The plant consists of isolated modules that contain a fluidizable sand bed in which a series of electrical resistances are immersed. The electric surplus produced by wind or photovoltaic power plants is used to “turn on” the resistances during charging. “The fluidization of sand particles significantly increases the heat transfer coefficient and the response time of the entire system,” the company explains on its website. In the discharge phase, the integrated heat exchanger inside the fluidized sand bed is simply inverted.

The advantages of sand-based batteries

In addition to excellent flexibility and material sustainability, the MGTES system also offers high efficiency. The absence of convection and the insulation of the structure guarantee thermal losses below 2 percent for 24 hours, allowing you to accumulate thermal energy for days or even weeks. “It has been proven – adds the company – that, in the case of a thermal-to-thermal application, the return efficiency (RTE) is higher than 90%”.

Mgtes technology, in particular, offers an immediate response to the need for decarbonisation of industrial processes and therefore for gas substitution,” explained Mario Magaldi, Chairman of the Magaldi Group. “Italy has the resources and expertise to play an important role in the supply chain of batteries in energy storage, enabling factor in the production of renewable energy continuously, thus helping to make the entire system stable and safe”.

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