A group of engineers from the University of Newcastle in Australia have reportedly patented a new material that can store thermal energy in the shape of a block, which is something the inventors think will help the global transition away from fossil fuels.

As per research, the new material, called Miscibility Gaps Alloy (MGA), is comprised of aluminum as well as graphite, can store the power generated from renewable sources, and, as per estimates, can last roughly 30 years without losing its reliability.

Professor Erich Kisi, co-inventor of the thermal block, stated that his team has been working on thermionic converters, which generate power from heat, when they got the groundbreaking idea to expand into energy storage.

Kisi further added that the aluminum particles, which produce the residual heat, as in the boiling energy, are the (most crucial) elements for the blocks. As a result, they will liquefy and solidify thousands of times over the course of the block's lifetime but will remain intact. Graphite being the major component holds them in place.

Each block weighs around 6kg and carries about 1-kilowatt per hour of thermal energy. However, the expected cost of each block is not yet confirmed.

Prof Kisi is currently the CEO of MGA Thermal, the firm that makes the energy storage blocks, is collaborating with E2S Power in Switzerland to use them as part of design technologies to rebuild and reuse coal-fired power stations across Europe.

By constructing an energy storage system while progressively retiring boilers at a power plant, the business wants to ease the transition away from coal-fired power.

Professor Kisi acclaimed that this will allow these resources, which are today worth billions of dollars but will be worth nothing in five years, to be reused. The government must shift its focus away from short-term concerns, such as election, and toward long-term considerations.

Source credit: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/australianz/australian-engineers-patent-thermal-block-to-store-renewable-energy