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UK compressed air collaboration hopes to challenge lead-acid

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 09:39 -- Tildy Bayar
UK compressed air collaboration hopes to challenge lead-acid

A recent collaboration agreement between two UK-based power solutions firms, Critical Power Supplies and Flow Battery, could lead to new UPS market sector challenges.

The two companies will develop compressed air energy storage systems which they hope will challenge lead-acid batteries in the flywheel, fuel cell and large data centre UPS market sectors.  

The companies say they will supply a fully integrated package using compressed air cylinders to drive a scroll generator which can deliver up to 4kW of AC or DC backup power, with a run time determined by the amount of air available from the cylinder packs.

Flow Battery general manager James Derby said, “The system is designed to last for at least 40 years, with whole life costs that are significantly lower than those of large lead-acid battery installations. This is because our compressed air technology is inherently more reliable, durable and lower maintenance than traditional batteries. For example, all of the customer units installed have operated with zero maintenance requirements and 100 per cent reliability.

“Another major advantage of compressed air solutions is that they are tolerant of a wide range of environments and can be mounted outdoors, without any special engineering requirements,” he added. “The installation has been virtually plug-and-play, freeing up valuable space in the customer premises and has negated the need for other considerations such as ventilation and Ex engineering.”

Flow Battery’s compressed air systems are used by the UK and US National Grids. The company says it has been looking to actively partner with established firms in the UPS space.