MSU mechanical engineering assistant professor awarded TVA grant

July 26, 2023

MSU mechanical engineering assistant professor Like Li has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority to design, develop and demonstrate a lab-scale thermal energy storage reactor.

“This is an excellent opportunity for my research group to design, build up, and test a kW-scale packed-bed chemical reactor in our lab,” Li said. “We will be running endothermic reactions near 1000 degrees Celsius for energy storing and exothermic oxidation reactions around 550 degrees Celsius for heat release using barium oxide-based redox cycles.”

During the year-long project entitled “Thermochemical Energy Storage Reactor Design and Demonstration to Accommodate Renewable Energy Intermittency,” Li and his team aim to demonstrate that they can store energy from excess electricity and provide it on demand whenever needed. He explained that the approach is to develop a technology with “electricity to heat first and then heat to electricity” conversion enabled by thermochemical reduction-oxidation (redox) cycles.

Li said the project design would enable high-efficiency and low-cost energy storage and can effectively accommodate renewable energy intermittency. He explained that the solution of thermochemical energy storage reduces the consumption of fossil fuels and increases the utilization of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. The thermochemical aspect of the TCES system reduces the strain on the grid since it allows for indefinite thermal storage, meaning it can be discharged on demand, unlike conventional sensible heat or latent heat storage systems.

“We are super excited about this project and grateful for the support from TVA. We will work closely with TVA to show our proposed solution to accommodate renewable energy intermittency and cheap energy storage,” Li said. “We hope to build strong connections with industry partners like TVA and other energy and utility companies.”

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By Camille Carskadon