USC Viterbi signs an MOU with Energy Internet Corporation (EIC) to enable the deployment of large-scale Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES)
The USC Energy Institute at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering has signed an MOU with Energy Internet Corporation (EIC) to advance subsurface engineering research to demonstrate the technical feasibility of large-scale energy storage for renewable energy. The 3-5-year project will rely on air compression and energy storage in the subsurface saline aquifers using idle oil & gas wells and deploying EIC’s isothermal Compressed Air Energy Storage (i-CAES) technology. The initial phase of the collaboration is underway with an initial research project to assess the potential opportunity and benefits to repurpose idle oil and gas wells in the State of California, followed by a more detailed study to identify and select candidate sites for a 5 MW demonstration plant.
The USC team includes Professor Donald Paul, Executive Director of the USC Energy Institute and William M. Keck Chair of Energy Resources, Professor Iraj Ershaghi, Omar B. Milligan Chair in Petroleum Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and Professor Birendra Jha of the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. The team is leading the research and technology program to establish the subsurface well engineering principles for the safe, environmentally responsible repurposing of idle oil and gas well infrastructure for large-scale subsurface energy storage. California is estimated to have at least 15,000 wells that will be destined for abandonment during the coming decade. The US has over 300,000 such wells.
“The integration of EIC’s lower cost, more efficient liquid piston technology for compression with the availability of subsurface storage volumes provides the opportunity to create a new, large-scale energy storage option to pair with the growing fleet of renewable energy generation facilities. The process also provides for an improved mechanism to isolate the existing hydrocarbon producing intervals, while simultaneously enabling compressed air storage in saline aquifer layers many thousand feet above the hydrocarbon bearing zones. An additional potential benefit is that the saltwater pumped to the surface during the process can be treated using EIC’s advanced desalination technology, to provide treated water for the community and commercial purposes” says Professor Donald Paul.
Professor Ershaghi adds that, “This concept not only seeks to benefit from existing conduits to the saline aquifers but also provides a mechanism, through the installation of sensor systems, to continuously monitor the state of the wells and subsurface for decades since they will be in use for energy storage. It also diversifies the storage opportunities besides using batteries “ Professors Ershaghi and Jha have already recruited students who have begun studies to evaluate suitable saline water reservoir candidates for a demonstration plant, and early results are very encouraging.
Shankar Ramamurthy, CEO and co-founder of EIC said, “We are delighted to enter into a collaboration with such an esteemed institution like USC Viterbi School of Engineering, that is exercising its multi-disciplinary expertise, in subsurface oil and gas reservoirs, renewable energy desalination technologies and remote sensing, to address some of the most important problems that humanity faces. We bring to this collaboration a low-cost, highly scalable isothermal compression technology that has overcome the drawbacks of earlier CAES processes, and involves proprietary software defined control of the generation and distribution of renewable power. We see the collaboration help leverage CAES in subsurface reservoirs for TWH scale energy storage and GW scale power distribution. This can create the lowest cost-grid-scale power distribution option with only renewable sources.
Energy Internet Corporation (EIC) is an energy technology company, that helps assure and accelerate the achievement of Sustainability and Zero Carbon goals. EIC helps Oil & Gas (O&G) companies and state agencies to substantially reduce abandonment costs and provides the opportunity to promote investment in renewable energy. EIC solution is an inexpensive, long duration (10-100 days) energy storage for GW scale power. It enables continuous, quality renewable-power supply at substantially lower than the costs today.