SustainX Finalizes $5.4M of Funding From U.S. DOE
WEST LEBANON, N.H., June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- SustainX, Inc., a New Hampshire-based startup developing a utility-scale energy storage technology based on compressed air, has finalized a $5.4 million award by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under a federal program to demonstrate new Smart Grid technologies.
The DOE considers energy storage a crucial technology for the Smart Grid, the more efficient national electric-supply system that will be built within the next decade or two. The traditional grid stores almost no energy: when demand rises suddenly, so-called "peaking" turbines, most fired by natural gas, must rapidly come on-line. Since such plants are idle most of the time, they are an expensive source of power. With storage units scattered at strategic points throughout a Smart Grid, shifts in demand could be met more flexibly, lowering transmission and generation costs.
The funds will enable SustainX to accelerate its technology development and ultimately deploy a full-scale demonstration unit in 2012. That technology, which the company calls ICAES™ (Isothermal Compressed-Air Energy Storage), uses electrical energy to compress air near-isothermally (i.e., at approximately constant temperature), stores it aboveground in commercial gas storage containers, and expands it near-isothermally to generate electricity. No fuel is involved.
Under this award SustainX has committed to three project phases. Phase I is construction of a Pilot system capable of 50 kilowatts (kW) of electric output, Phase II is construction of a 250 kW Demo system, and Phase III is construction of a one-megawatt, four megawatt-hour (1 MW, 4 MWh) energy-storage system to be demonstrated at an AES Energy Storage, LLC affiliated site. The latter will be capable of storing enough energy to power 1,000 typical U.S. homes for approximately 4 hours.
To date, the company has already achieved six of its eight Phase I technical milestones under the terms of the DOE award, including demonstration of its isothermal heat-transfer approach at scale where high power compressions and expansions are being performed at 95% efficiency. According to SustainX's chief technical officer and co-founder, Troy McBride , "We are very excited to be working with the DOE on this Smart Grid project. Our Pilot ICAES™ system is undergoing final assembly right now and will showcase our high efficiency isothermal cycling as a continuous process."
To achieve its ambitious goals, SustainX is collaborating closely with top-tier technology companies including Creare, Parker Hannifin , the Hope Group, Kingsbury, Greenerd, MTechnology, and KEMA. The company has grown to 12 full-time employees and has landed financial support from the National Science Foundation and major venture-capital firms, Polaris Venture Partners and Rockport Capital Partners.
Mr. Dhiraj Malkani , a Principal with Rockport Capital Partners, states that "We are thrilled to partner with the DOE to develop a next generation compressed air energy storage technology. This is the catalyst that the industry needed to get these technologies to market." Dr. Imre Gyuk , Program Manager of Energy Storage Research at DOE, remarks that "a successful isothermal CAES technology will become a valuable tool in renewable integration, peak shaving, and energy management. Eliminating the gas fueled turbine of traditional CAES makes it a green technology with negligible carbon footprint."
The DOE award, selected in late 2009, is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
SOURCE SustainX, Inc.
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