Photo: CMBlu/BlueStor

BlueStor eyes UK’s first floating organic flow battery for port energy storage

BlueStor, a project created by UK’s MSE International and funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) under its Longer Duration Energy Storage (LODES) competition, has produced detailed plans for developing the country’s first floating organic flow battery for decarbonised port energy storage and shore power for two cruise ships.

Photo: CMBlu/BlueStor

As explained, organic flow battery technology avoids many of the environmental disadvantages of conventional battery technologies and is ideally suited to maritime applications.

The current phase of the BlueStor project has been a feasibility study of this port energy storage system; the results of which have given the project team confidence to now apply for Phase 2 funding which will build and operate a pre-commercial prototype organic flow battery, on a floating barge, that will demonstrate supply of electricity to two visiting cruise ships when at berth in Portsmouth International Port.

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Phase 2 of BlueStor will also demonstrate the capability to procure, at times of low demand, the energy to be supplied to these vessels.

Phase 1 of the BlueStor project, which concludes this month, has shown that organic flow batteries are ideally suited to large scale bulk energy storage applications, especially in locations where environmental sensitivity is high; for example ports and coastal areas.

The feasibility study acknowledged that although the energy density of each cell is relatively low, a large scale 50 MW, 600 MWh installation would be more compact overall than an equivalent lithium ion installation. The low fire and explosion risk of organic flow batteries allows much tighter packing of the batteries.

Flow batteries use a stack of electrochemical cells to convert electricity into chemical energy which is stored in charged electrolytes in external tanks. They are said to be ideally suited to meet the requirement for longer duration energy storage because the storage capacity can be increased, at a relatively low cost, independently from the power rating of the stack.

MSE International is a sector consortium for marine industries established to stimulate investment and growth through innovation.

MSE International is the lead partner in BlueStor, while energy and battery specialist Swanbarton is supporting the battery engineering and construction as well as associated controls and interfaces. Moreover, marine and offshore engineering and clean technology specialist Houlder is designing the battery platform and port/vessel interfaces. CMBlu is supplying the electro-chemistry for the flow battery.

LODES forms part of the UK government’s 10 Point Plan for a green industrial revolution and is an important commitment for both BEIS and HM Government.

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