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Storage Systems

Storage Systems | ABB Battery

Energy storage technologies are of great interest to electric utilities, energy service companies, and automobile manufacturers (for electric vehicle application). The ability to store large amounts of energy would allow electric utilities to have greater flexibility in their operation because with this option the supply and demand do not have to be matched instantaneously. The availability of the proper battery at the right price will make the electric vehicle a reality, a goal that has eluded the automotive industry thus far. Four types of storage technologies (listed below) are discussed in this section, but most emphasis is placed on storage batteries because it is now closest to being commercially viable. The other storage technology widely used by the electric power industry, pumped-storage power plants, is not discussed as this has been in commercial operation for more than 60 years in various countries around the world.

  • Flywheel storage
  • Compressed air energy storage
  • Superconducting magnetic energy storage
  • Battery storage

Flywheel Storage

Flywheels store their energy in their rotating mass, which rotates at very high speeds (approaching 75,000 rotations per minute), and are made of composite materials instead of steel because of the composite’s ability to withstand the rotating forces exerted on the flywheel. In order to store enegy the flywheel is placed in a sealed container which is then placed in a vacuum to reduce air resistance. Magnets embedded in the flywheel pass near pickup coils. The magnet induces a current in the coil changing the rotational energy into electrical energy.

Flywheels are still in research and development, and commercial products are several years away.

Compressed Air Energy Storage

As the name implies, the compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant uses electricity to compress air which is stored in underground reservoirs. When electricity is needed, this compressed air is withdrawn, heated with gas or oil, and run through an expansion turbine to drive a generator. The compressed air can be stored in several types of underground structures, including caverns in salt or rock formations, aquifers, and depleted natural gas fields. Typically the compressed air in a CAES plant uses about one third of the premium fuel needed to produce the same amount of electricity as in a conventional plant. A 290-MW CAES plant has been in operation in Germany since the early 1980s with 90% availability and 99% starting reliability. In the U.S., the Alabama Electric Cooperative runs a CAES plant that stores compressed air in a 19-million cubic foot cavern mined from a salt dome. This 110-MW plant has a storage capacity of 26 h. The fixed-price turnkey cost for this first-of-a-kind plant is about $400/kW in constant 1988 dollars.

The turbomachinery of the CAES plant is like a combustion turbine, but the compressor and the expander operate independently. In a combustion turbine, the air that is used to drive the turbine is compressed just prior to combustion and expansion and, as a result, the compressor and the expander must operate at the same time and must have the same air mass flow rate. In the case of a CAES plant, the compressor and the expander can be sized independently to provide the utility-selected “optimal” MW charge and discharge rate which determines the ratio of hours of compression required for each hour of turbine-generator operation. The MW ratings and time ratio are influenced by the utility’s load curve, and the price of off-peak power.

For example, the CAES plant in Germany requires 4 h of compression per hour of generation. On the other hand, the Alabama plant requires 1.7 h of compression for each hour of generation. At 110-MW net output, the power ratio is 0.818 kW output for each kilowatt input. The heat rate (LHV) is 4122 BTU/kWh with natural gas fuel and 4089 BTU/kWh with fuel oil. Due to the storage option, a partial-load operation of the CAES plant is also very flexible. For example, the heat rate of the expander increases only by 5%, and the airflow decreases nearly linearly when the plant output is turned down to 45% of full load. However, CAES plants have not reached commercial viability beyond some prototypes.

Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage

A third type of advanced energy storage technology is superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES), which may someday allow electric utilities to store electricity with unparalled efficiency (90% or more). A simple description of SMES operation follows.
The electricity storage medium is a doughnut-shaped electromagnetic coil of superconducting wire. This coil could be about 1000 m in diameter, installed in a trench, and kept at superconducting temper- ature by a refrigeration system. Off-peak electricity, converted to direct current (DC), would be fed into this coil and stored for retrieval at any moment. The coil would be kept at a low-temperature supercon- ducting state using liquid helium.

The time between charging and discharging could be as little as 20 ms with a round-trip AC–AC efficiency of over 90%.

Developing a commercial-scale SMES plant presents both economic and technical challenges. Due to the high cost of liquiud helium, only plants with 1000-MW, 5-h capacity are economically attractive. Even then the plant capital cost can exceed several thousand dollars per kilowatt. As ceramic superconductors, which become superconducting at higher temperatures (maintained by less expensive liquid nitrogen), become more widely available, it may be possible to develop smaller scale SMES plants at a lower price.

Battery Storage

Even though battery storage is the oldest and most familiar energy storage device, significant advances have been made in this technology in recent years to deserve more attention. There has been renewed interest in this technology due to its potential application in non-polluting electric vehicles. Battery systems are quiet and non-polluting, and can be installed near load centers and existing suburban substations. These have round-trip AC–AC efficiencies in the range of 85%, and can respond to load changes within 20 ms. Several U.S., European, and Japanese utilities have demonstrated the application of lead–acid batteries for load-following applications. Some of them have been as large as 10 MW with 4 h of storage.

The other player in battery development is the automotive industry for electric vehicle application. In 1991, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), several utilities, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) formed the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) to develop better batteries for electric vehicle (EV) applications. A brief introduction to some of the available battery technologies as well some that are under study is presented in the following (Source:http://www.eren.

Battery Types

Chemical batteries are individual cells filled with a conducting medium-electrolyte that, when connected together, form a battery. Multiple batteries connected together form a battery bank. At present, there are two main types of batteries: primary batteries (non-rechargeable) and secondary batteries (rechargeable). Secondary batteries are further divided into two categories based on the operating temperature of the electrolyte. Ambient operating temperature batteries have either aqueous (flooded) or nonaqueous elec- trolytes. High operating temperature batteries (molten electrodes) have either solid or molten electrolytes. Batteries in EVs are the secondary-rechargeable-type and are in either of the two sub-categories. A battery for an EV must meet certain performance goals.

These goals include quick discharge and recharge capability, long cycle life (the number of discharges before becoming unserviceable), low cost, recycla- bility, high specific energy (amount of usable energy, measured in watt-hours per pound [lb] or kilogram [kg]), high energy density (amount of energy stored per unit volume), specific power (determines the potential for acceleration), and the ability to work in extreme heat or cold. No battery currently available meets all these criteria.

Lead–Acid Batteries

Lead–acid starting batteries (shallow-cycle lead–acid secondary batteries) are the most common battery used in vehicles today. This battery is an ambient temperature, aqueous electrolyte battery. A cousin to this battery is the deep-cycle lead–acid battery, now widely used in golf carts and forklifts. The first electric cars built also used this technology. Although the lead–acid battery is relatively inexpensive, it is very heavy, with a limited usable energy by weight (specific energy). The battery’s low specific energy and poor energy density make for a very large and heavy battery pack, which cannot power a vehicle as far as an equivalent gas-powered vehicle. Lead–acid batteries should not be discharged by more than 80% of their rated capacity or depth of discharge (DOD). Exceeding the 80% DOD shortens the life of the battery. Lead–acid batteries are inexpensive, readily available, and are highly recyclable, using the elaborate recycling system already in place. Research continues to try to improve these batteries.

A lead–acid nonaqueous (gelled lead acid) battery uses an electrolyte paste instead of a liquid. These batteries do not have to be mounted in an upright position. There is no electrolyte to spill in an accident. Nonaqueous lead–acid batteries typically do not have as high a life cycle and are more expensive than flooded deep-cycle lead–acid batteries.

Nickel Iron and Nickel Cadmium Batteries

Nickel iron (Edison cells) and nickel cadmium (nicad) pocket and sintered plate batteries have been in use for many years. Both of these batteries have a specific energy of around 25 Wh/lb (55 Wh/kg), which is higher than advanced lead–acid batteries. These batteries also have a long cycle life. Both of these batteries are recyclable. Nickel iron batteries are non-toxic, while nicads are toxic. They can also be discharged to 100% DOD without damage. The biggest drawback to these batteries is their cost. Depend- ing on the size of battery bank in the vehicle, it may cost between $20,000 and $60,000 for the batteries. The batteries should last at least 100,000 mi (160,900 km) in normal service.

Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries

Nickel metal hydride batteries are offered as the best of the next generation of batteries. They have a high specific energy: around 40.8 Wh/lb (90 Wh/kg). According to a U.S. DOE report, the batteries are benign to the environment and are recyclable. They also are reported to have a very long cycle life. Nickel metal hydride batteries have a high self-discharge rate: they lose their charge when stored for long periods of time. They are already commercially available as “AA” and “C” cell batteries, for small consumer appliances and toys. Manufacturing of larger batteries for EV applications is only available to EV manufacturers. Honda is using these batteries in the EV Plus, which is available for lease in California.

Sodium Sulfur Batteries

This battery is a high-temperature battery, with the electrolyte operating at temperatures of 572°F (300°C). The sodium component of this battery explodes on contact with water, which raises certain safety concerns. The materials of the battery must be capable of withstanding the high internal temper- atures they create, as well as freezing and thawing cycles. This battery has a very high specific energy: 50 Wh/lb (110 Wh/kg). The Ford Motor Company uses sodium sulfur batteries in their Ecostar, a converted delivery minivan that is currently sold in Europe. Sodium sulfur batteries are only available to EV manufacturers.

Lithium Iron and Lithium Polymer Batteries

The USABC considers lithium iron batteries to be the long-term battery solution for EVs. The batteries have a very high specific energy: 68 Wh/lb (150 Wh/kg). They have a molten-salt electrolyte and share many features of a sealed bipolar battery. Lithium iron batteries are also reported to have a very long cycle life. These are widely used in laptop computers. These batteries will allow a vehicle to travel distances and accelerate at a rate comparable to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Lithium polymer batteries eliminate liquid electrolytes. They are thin and flexible, and can be molded into a variety of shapes and sizes.

Neither type will be ready for EV commercial applications until early in the 21st century.

Zinc and Aluminum Air Batteries

Zinc air batteries are currently being tested in postal trucks in Germany. These batteries use either aluminum or zinc as a sacrificial anode. As the battery produces electricity, the anode dissolves into the electrolyte. When the anode is completely dissolved, a new anode is placed in the vehicle. The aluminum or zinc and the electrolyte are removed and sent to a recycling facility. These batteries have a specific energy of over 97 Wh/lb (200 Wh/kg). The German postal vans currently carry 80 kWh of energy in their battery, giving them about the same range as 13 gallons (49.2 liters) of gasoline. In their tests, the vans have achieved a range of 615 mi (990 km) at 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).

SOURCE: Rahman, Saifur “Electric Power Generation: Non-Conventional Methods”

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Power transformer

Power transformer

In a real transformer, some power is dissipated in the form of heat. A portion of these power losses occur in the conductor windings due to electrical resistance and are referred to as copper losses. However, so-called iron losses from the transformer core are also important. The latter result from the rapid change of direction of the magnetic field, which means that the microscopic iron particles must continually realign themselves technically, their magnetic moment—in the direction of the field (or flux). Just as with the flow of charge, this realignment encounters friction on the microscopic level and therefore dissipates energy, which becomes tangible as heating of the material.
Taking account of both iron and copper losses, the efficiency (or ratio of electrical power out to electrical power in) of real transformers can be in the high 90% range. Still, even a small percentage of losses in a large transformer corresponds to a sig- nificant amount of heat that must be dealt with. In the case of small transformers inside typical household adaptors for low-voltage d.c. appliances, we know that they are warm to the touch. Yet they transfer such small quantities of power that the heat is easily dissipated into the ambient air . By contrast, suppose a 10MVA transformer at a distribution substation operates at an efficiency of 99%: A 1% loss here corresponds to a staggering 100 kW.
In general, smaller transformers like those on distribution poles are passively cooled by simply radiating heat away to their surroundings, sometimes assisted by radiator vanes that maximize the available surface area for removing the heat.

Large transformers like those at substations or power plants require the heat to be removed from the core and windings by active cooling, generally through circulat- ing oil that simultaneously functions as an electrical insulator.

The capacity limit of a transformer is dictated by the rate of heat dissipation. Thus, as is true for power lines, the ability to load a transformer depends in part on ambient conditions including temperature, wind, and rain. For example, if a transformer appears to be reaching its thermal limit on a hot day, one way to salvage the situation is to hose down its exterior with cold water—a procedure that is not “by the book,” but has been reported to work in emergencies. When transformers are operated near their capacity limit, the key variable to monitor is the internal or oil temperature. This task is complicated by the problem that the temperature may not be uniform throughout the inside of the transformer, and damage can be done by just a local hot spot. Under extreme heat, the oil can break down, sustain an electric arc, or even burn, and a transformer may explode.
A cooling and insulating fluid for transformers has to meet criteria similar to those for other high-voltage equipment, such as circuit breakers and capacitors: it must conduct heat but not electricity; it must not be chemically reactive; and it must not be easily ionized, which would allow arcs to form. Mineral oil meets these criteria fairly well, since the long, nonpolar molecules do not readily break apart under an electric field.

Another class of compounds that performs very well and has been in widespread use for transformers and other equipment is polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs. Because PCBs and the dioxins that contaminate them were found to be carcinogenic and ecologically toxic and persistent, they are no longer manufactured in the United States; the installation of new PCB-containing utility equipment has been banned since 1977.11 However, much of the extant hardware predates this phase-out and is therefore subject to careful maintenance and disposal procedures (somewhat analogous to asbestos in buildings).

Introduced in the 1960s, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is another very effective arc-extinguishing fluid for high-voltage equipment. SF6 has the advantage of being reasonably nontoxic as well as chemically inert, and it has a superior ability to with- stand electric fields without ionizing. While the size of transformers and capacitors is constrained by other factors, circuit breakers can be made much smaller with SF6 than traditional oil-filled breakers. However, it turns out that SF6 absorbs thermal infrared radiation and thus acts as a greenhouse gas when it escapes into the atmos- phere; it is included among regulated substances in the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change. SF6 in the atmosphere also appears to form another compound by the name of trifluoromethyl sulfur pentafluoride (SF5CF3), an even more potent greenhouse gas whose atmospheric concentration is rapidly increasing.

Transformer fan

Transformer fan

Heat from core losses and copper losses must be dissipated to the environment. In dry type transformers, cooling is accomplished simply by circulating air around and through the coil and core assembly, either by natural convection or by forced air flow from fans. This cooling method is usually limited to low-voltage indoor transformers (5 kV and below) having a three-phase rating below 1500 KVA. At higher voltages, oil is required to insulate the windings, which prevents the use of air for cooling the core and coils directly. At higher KVA ratings, the losses are just too high for direct air cooling to be effective. In outdoor environments, direct air cooling would introduce unacceptable amounts of dirt and moisture into the windings.
Transformers come in various cooling classes, as defined by the industry standards. In recent years, there have been attempts to align the designa- tions that apply to transformers manufactured in North America with the IEC cooling-class designations. Table below gives the IEC designations and the earlier designations that are used in this book. All of the IEC designations use four letters. In some respects, the IEC designations are more descriptive than the North American designations because IEC makes a distinction between forced-oil/air cooled (OFAF) and directed-flow-air cooled (ODAF). Some people find using the four-letter designations somewhat awkward, and this book uses the earlier designations throughout.
In small oil-filled distribution transformers, the surface of the tank is sufficient for transferring heat from the oil to the air. Ribs are added to the tanks of some distribution transformers to increase the surface area of the tank and to improve heat transfer. Large distribution transformers and small power transformers generally require radiator banks to provide cooling. Regardless of whether the tank surface, ribs, or radiators are used, transformers that trans-fer heat from oil to air through natural convection are all cooling class OA transformers.

Radiators used on OA transformers generally have round cooling tubes or flat fins with large cross section areas in order to allow oil to flow by natural convection with minimal resistance. Hot oil from the core and coils rises to the top of the tank above the inlet to the radiator. Cool oil from the radiator sinks to the bottom of the radiator through the outlet and into the bottom of the core and coils. This process is called thermo-siphoning and the oil velocity is relatively slow throughout the transformer and radiators. For this reason, OA transformers have relatively large temperature gradients between the bot- tom oil and the top oil, and relatively large temperature gradients between the winding temperatures and the top oil temperature. Likewise, the air circulates through the radiator through natural convection, or is aided by the wind.

Designations and descriptions of the cooling classes used in power transformers
Previous designationIEC designationDescription
Oil-air cooled (self-cooled)
Forced-air cooled
Oil-air cooled (self-cooled), followed by two stages of forced-air cooling (fans)
.OA/FA/FOA.ONAN/ONAF/OFAFOil-air cooled (self-cooled), followed by one stage of forced-air cooling (fans), followed by 1 stage of forced oil (oil pumps)
Oil-air cooled (self-cooled), followed by one stage of directed oil flow pumps (with fans)
. OA/FOA/FOA.ONAF/ODAF/ODAFOil-air cooled (self-cooled), followed by two stages of directed oil flow pumps (with fans)
Forced oil/air cooled (with fans) rating only—no self-cooled rating
Forced oil / water cooled rating only (oil / water heat exchanger with oil and wa- ter pumps)—no self-cooled rating
Forced oil / air cooled rating    only    with    di- rected oil flow pumps and fans—no self-cooled rating
Forced oil / water cooled rating only (oil / water heat exchanger with directed oil flow pumps and water pumps)— no self-cooled rating

As the transformer losses increase, the number and size of the radiators that are required to cool the oil must increase. Eventually, a point is reached where wind and natural convection are not adequate to remove the heat and air must be forced through the radiators by motor-driven fans. Transformers that have forced air cooling are cooling class FA transformers. FA transform- ers require auxiliary power to run the fan motors, however, and one of the advantages of OA transformers is that they require no auxiliary power for cooling equipment. Since additional cooling is not usually needed until the transformer is heavily loaded, the fans on most FA transformers are turned off until temperatures exceed some threshold value, so under light load the transformer is cooled by natural convection only. These transformers are cool- ing class OA/FA transformers.

Some transformers are cooled by natural convection below temperature T1, turn on one stage of fans at a higher temperature T2 and turn on a second stage of fans at an even higher temperature T3. These transformers are cooling class OA/FA/FA transformers. The direction of air flow in forced-air units is either horizontally outward or vertically upward. The vertical flow pattern has the advantage of being in the same direction as the natural air convection, so the two air flows will reinforce each other.

Although the cooling capacity is greatly increased by the use of forced air, increasing the loading to take advantage of the increased capacity will increase the temperature gradients within the transformer. A point is reached where the internal temperature gradients limit the ability to increase load any further. The solution is to increase the oil velocity by pumping oil as well as forcing air through the radiators. The usual pump placement is at the bottom of the radiators, forcing oil from the radiator outlets into the bottom of he transformer tank in the same direction as natural circulation but at a much higher velocity. Such transformers are cooling class FOA transformers. By directing the flow of oil within the transformer windings, greater cooling effi- ciency can be achieved. In recognition of this fact, the calculation of hot-spot temperatures is modified slightly for directed-flow cooling class transformers.

As in forced-air designs, forced-oil cooling can be combined with OA cooling (OA/FOA) or in two stages (OA/FOA/FOA). A transformer having a stage of fans and a stage of oil pumps that are switched on at different temperatures would be a cooling class OA/FA/FOA transformer.
The radiator design on FOA transformers can differ substantially with the radiator design on FA transformers. Since the oil is pumped under consid- erable pressure, the resistance to oil flow is of secondary importance so the radiator tubes can be designed to maximize surface area at the expense of cross section area. FOA radiators are sometimes called coolers instead, and tend to resemble automotive radiators with very narrow spaces between the cooling tubes and flat fins in the spaces between the cooling tubes to provide additional surface area. The comparison of the two types is illustrated in picture left (OA/FA type) and right (FOA type).

OA/FA radiator construction

OA/FA radiator construction. The large radiator tubes minimize restric- tion of oil flow under natural convection. The fan is shown mounted at the bottom with air flow directed upward.

FOA cooler construction

FOA cooler construction. The oil is forced through narrow tubes from top to bottom by means of oil pumps. The cooling fans direct air horizontally outward.

Cooling equipment requires maintenance in order to run efficiently and provide for a long transformer life. There is the obvious need to main- tain the fans, pumps, and electrical supply equipment. The oil coolers them- selves must be kept clean as well, especially FOA-type coolers. Many transformers have overheated under moderate loads because the cooling fins were clogged with insect and bird nests, dust, pollen, and other debris. For generator step-up transformers, where the load is nearly at nameplate rating continuously, steam-cleaning the coolers once every year is a good mainte- nance practice.


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