Energy storage laboratory - flexible and well equipped
A small-scale energy storage laboratory has been built at SINTEF Energy Research in a Strategic Institute Programme financed by the Norwegian Research Council. Statkraft is an R&D partner that has installed an advanced electrochemical component in the energy storage laboratory as a part of a research project. In this way they can utilize the existing infrastructure and the already installed components can be used in various system tests. Similar solutions should be interesting for several other companies with an R&D profile.
The energy storage laboratory has high flexibility as regards interchanging and grouping components, which makes it well suited for both component and system studies. This includes examination of autonomous as well as grid-connected systems. Components with power range up to approximately 20 kW can be tested in the laboratory. Because component characteristics like efficiency and life time are closely related to the application, it is vital to make realistic tests of the components in order to identify the right parameters. Due to advanced control of the power converters, it is possible to force any wanted load characteristic to the components.
The energy storage laboratory is 18 m2 in total, 11 m2 of which is the test area for components. Fuel cells, electrolytes or other explosive hazard components are placed in a cabinet with ventilation outlets according to the regulations. In addition, larger physical components or systems may be connected to the laboratory from other laboratories nearby. This is the case for the wind-turbine emulator, which is located in the Windpower Laboratory close by. The energy storage laboratory can have hydrogen supplied from cylinders placed in an outdoor gas-storage (semi-automatic system). Fluid-cooling of components (up to 18.5 kW) and separate refrigeration/air-conditioning (5 kW) can remove heat-loss and provide stable temperature conditions during tests.
Control of the test setup is done by a laboratory PC with LabVIEW-based software. This interface allows laboratory tests to be pre-programmed or controlled manually and measurements of tension, current and temperature can be stored continually. The software is based on object-oriented development tools, which gives flexible and quick adaptation to new combinations of components and systems.
The laboratory can carry out numerous types of tests from life-span tests of energy storage systems such as batteries to extensive studies of complete wind-hydrogen systems. The latter tests are financed by Statkraft and covers among other things tests in which their electrolytes are involved. The electrolysis is supplied from a wind-turbine that is emulated by means of a converter-controlled generator set. Another possible application of the laboratory is the emulation of a diesel generator in an electric grid onboard a ship where the converter load dominates.
Components installed in the laboratory today:
- 5.5 kW alkaline electrolytes (water electrolyte)
- 2.2 kW alkaline fuel-cells (AFC)
- lead battery (traction, 4 units 12 V/150 Ah)
- electrochemical capacitor (33 F, 42 V)
- 2 units DC/DC converters (20 kW each)
- connection to the Windpower Laboratory (wind-turbine emulator 50 kVA)
Sketch of the energy storage laboratory