Saving Air Now for Energy Later

3-D rendering of proposed on-site natural gas energy storage facility at or near Abbott Power Plant

F&S’ power production on campus is really great due to the incredible array of production services on campus with the two solar farms, the off-campus wind power purchase agreement, and at Abbott Power Plant. The Abbott combined heat and power facility provides both electric and thermal energy across campus. It has existed for over 80 years, and has a long history of supporting research collaborations. It’s also at the forefront of integrating renewable energy options into the energy operations, exploring and incorporating clean energy in addition to the existing use of fossil fuel.

Now, three studies hosted by F&S facilities will look for important data related to the storage of fuel like compressed air, natural gas, and hydrogen.

The Prairie Research Institute (PRI), the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) and F&S will help lead three multi-disciplinary teams studying systems of energy storage to increase the reliability of solar and wind farms, and integrating it with Abbott’s fossil fuel production. This work is funded by grant awards won through the Department of Energy, with Dr. Mohamed Attalla, F&S executive director, named as a co-Principal Investigator on each. Compressed air energy systems, for example, can store output from renewable energy sources as a means to keep fossil-fueled electrical systems loaded when electricity demand is low and as a reliable backup. Eventually, F&S will store compressed air and use it to rotate the turbine generators when doing so would be beneficial to university power production operations based on market conditions.

Studies looking into the storage of hydrogen and natural gas will also use Abbott data to evaluate integration of energy storage systems, as production facilities look to multiple types of fuel in order to improve cost and effectiveness in a variety of climates and economic realities. The PRI teams at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) and the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) play a vital role.

“This work offers a unique approach with high potential for development of a clean and sustainable energy system that will have broad application. We recognize the important role that our colleagues at PRI have had through their research and industrial partners have had in developing world-recognized projects, and we look forward to their continued contribution toward advancing this important technology,” said Attalla.