UK scientists have begun developing a new zero-emission CO2 hydrate technology for refrigeration and cold storage systems.
Led by England’s University of Birmingham and assisted by Scotland’s Heriot-Watt and Glasgow universities, the $1.5 million project is being funded by UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and could help UK reach its 2050 net-zero emission target.
According to the scientists, the new system will be composed of CO2 hydrate – a crystalline structure formed by mixing CO2 and water under pressure.
It could serve both as a refrigerant and as a way of storing cold, and can also be produced at off-peak times using renewable sources of energy, before being used as required.
Cold storage and refrigeration consume up to 14% of UK’s electricity and is also responsible for around 10% of UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
These emissions include not only CO2 from power consumption, but also the leakage of refrigerants. Combined, both of these make a significant contribution to global warming.
Current methods of storing cold rely on chilled water storage, but this is typically only used on very large projects.
Ice storage is another option, but while ice is more compact, it requires more chiller energy.
The British-Scottish team contends that their new technology could help UK achieve a decrease of 40-50% in peak period fuel consumption for cooling.
“This approach will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for producing cold and will help the UK lead the way in adopting a healthier, more sustainable energy system,” notes team lead and Birmingham professor, Dr Yongliang Li.
Li’s team is working closely with the industry to design a system that will be straightforward to adopt for companies that rely on refrigeration.
They opine that the system will enable companies to adopt new, sustainable technologies, while also improving their competitiveness.
Image and content: Expressway Courier/University of Birmingham