One of Australia’s largest pet food manufacturers, Mars Petcare, is set to unveil a revolutionary new graphite battery later this year as part of a trial to reduce its emissions and cut costs, ABC News reports.
Energy experts say thermal energy storage (TES) facilities will become commonplace as Australia continues its energy transition over the next decade.
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“It will be the first major commercial application of thermal energy storage to displace gas in Australia, so it’s a big deal,” said Dominic Zaal, director of the Australian Solar Thermal Research Institute (ASTRI), which is funded through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
“It will be the first of many. Within 10 years this will be widespread.”
Like the sand battery recently unveiled in Finland, the Wodonga graphite battery system purchases renewable electricity from the grid when it is at its cheapest and converts this to heat through resistive heating. The heat is then stored in the graphite blocks at blisteringly high temperatures of up to 900 degrees Celsius. This heat is then used wherever it’s needed. In the case of the Wodonga factory, it will cook pet food.
Made by Graphite Energy, the battery has a modular design that can be scaled up, as well. A single container has a capacity of approximately 3MWh of thermal energy, which is equivalent to the amount of electrical energy stored by a large neighbourhood battery.
The battery is designed to be charged and discharged at the same time, and can process up to 8MWh of thermal energy in one day.
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The graphite battery will reduce the factory’s gas consumption by 20 per cent, Mars Petcare head of sustainability Paul Matuschka told ABC News.
“We’ve got a metric to be 100 per cent renewable from direct operations by 2040,” Matuschka said.
The graphite battery system is scheduled to begin operation early next year, and more batteries may be installed.