Hunter-based invention GRANEX® will soon be powering and heating The Forum Sports and Aquatic Centre at the University of Newcastle's Callaghan campus thanks to a $770,000 grant from the Australian Solar Institute.
The $770,000 grant, together with $940,000 from partner organisations, will fund the creation of a demonstration solar thermal combined power and heat project by relocating a GRANEX® power plant to The Forum. The plant will generate energy for use in heating the pool and provide power to other areas of the complex.
The project also involves adapting GRANEX® to use solar energy for both power generation and industrial heating, and to provide for thermal storage to power the facility after sunset.
GRANEX® technology delivers higher efficiencies than conventional low-to-medium temperature power plants and therefore increases the amount of electricity that can be generated from these types of heat sources. As a result it reduces the cost of power and produces no CO2 emissions.
Inventors Professor Behdad Moghtaderi and Dr Elham Doroodchi from the University's Priority Research Centre for Energy said the project was an important next step in the roll out of the technology, which was created in partnership with Granite Power Pty Ltd (GPL) and Newcastle Innovation.
"For the first time our technology will be generating both heat and electricity," Professor Moghtaderi said. "The project will allow us to measure the efficiency of a new application of GRANEX® following the success of the 1kW and 100kW prototype plants we have operated since 2009."
GPL Project Manager Sean McCracken said solar collectors would directly heat fluid for GRANEX® to convert into electricity. "After sunset, energy that has been collected and held in thermal storage during the day will be used to maintain power and pool heating requirements. The system is expected to be fully operational by December 2013 and is intended to be the test-bed and launch platform for a commercial product."
Newcastle Innovation CEO Dr Brent Jenkins said the project was a great example of industry connecting with the University to solve problems.
"When GPL wanted to develop commercially viable geothermal energy technology we were able to link it to the expertise offered by Professor Moghtaderi and Dr Doroodchi and provide the support he needed to patent his invention," Dr Jenkins said. "Following years of intensive concept and prototype testing and the proven success of its prototype plants, GRANEX® is now a commercial reality."
The project team will focus on extending the performance parameters of GRANEX® to design and build commercially attractive power plants that work with very low temperature waste heat and put to use valuable heat sources that would otherwise be wasted.
“This is an excellent example of one of the applications of GRANEX® and assists in demonstrating the breadth of the potential commercial application of the technology and piloting a prospective commercial product that we believe has a significant potential market," GPL Managing Director Stephen de Belle said.
Project partners include the University of Newcastle, NUsport, NEP Solar, Turbo Power Systems and Yokogawa Australia. This project has been supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Solar Institute's Round 3 funding.
Media contact: Professor Behdad Moghtaderi on 02 4985 4411 or Blythe Hamilton 02 4921 6856.