Latent Heat Storage has developed a low cost thermal energy storage system based on the latent heat properties of silicon derived from sand. The device, known as TESS, is being developed in South Australia with the help of an AUS$ 400,000 government grant to take it from prototype to commercial reality.
The TESS device stores electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon. The high latent heat capacity and melting temperature of silicon makes it ideal for the storage of large amounts of energy. A key benefit of the TESS device is its capability to handle an increasing workload from 500kW applications through to an industrial scale of up to several hundred megawatt hours. The patented device is small enough to fit inside a 20-foot shipping container but is readily scalable as demand requires. TESS is suitable for grid and off-grid applications and has been designed to overcome the intermittent nature of renewable energies by providing a stable energy output suitable for base load power. The device has been developed in partnership with Adelaide-based engineering consultancy Ammjohn, and final year engineering students at the University of Adelaide. A commercial prototype will be ready in early 2016.