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DoE Energy Storage Project

The Texas Allergy, Indoor Environment,and Energy (TxAIRE) Institute

Through a U.S. Department of Energy grant, the University of Texas at Tyler is working closely with UT Dallas to develop a new generation of rechargeable battery technologies based upon nano-engineered capacitors. Because such devices store electricity rather than electrochemically generating electricity, they can be recharged indefinitely (up to a million cycles). Today, such devices do not have sufficient energy storage density or power density for large scale energy storage applications. Dialectric capacitor systems composed of nanomaterials hold the potential of increasing both parameters. At UT Dallas, researchers are developing new dialectric materials and associated energy storage and recovery mechanism architectures. At UT Tyler, prototype device technology based upon this research is being incorporated into building applications.

At UT Tyler, based upon nano-composite material characteristics associated with achievable nano-material dialectric constants and effective capacitive surface areas, parametric systems engineering designs of candidate capacitive energy storage prototype configurations are being developed. Both lab bench tests and in-field testing of prototypes batteries in our TxAIRE Homes will quantify the envelope of physical dimensional (energy density) and optimum operating voltage & current properties need for various applications.

Given the current state-of-the-art in technology, initial applications will focus upon battery systems associated with low power light emitting diode applications with the intention of eliminating costly replacement of conventional rechargeable “AA” batteries. In this first application, the intention is to demonstrate the ability to integrate nano-engineered capacitor batteries with solar re-charging to provide LED lighting. Such a system would eliminate the need to annually change rechargeable batteries.

Subsequent demonstration and evaluation projects will attempt to run a home’s HVAC system at night from batteries charged during the day. Other applications could help reduce daytime peak-load requirements by drawing power from stored energy, thus having an impact on daytime peak-load electricity demand reduction.