The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is awarding AUD$2 million (US$1.35 million) to South Australian system manufacturer Glaciem Cooling Technologies to demonstrate the technical and economic value of integrating thermal energy storage with renewable energy for HVAC&R applications, including cold storage, process cooling and air conditioning.

The grant was based on the research and development that Glaciem is doing in the field of phase-change material (PCM) for the industrial and commercial refrigeration market, and also to optimize the control and operation of PCM thermal storage systems integrated with solar photovoltaics (PV), according to the company’s website.

Glaciem and the University of South Australia (UniSA) have been developing a low-cost thermal-energy-storage technology that will store and discharge energy using a heat transfer process, according to a press release from ARENA. This occurs at a temperature suited to the specific application using special material.

Glaciem’s technology has the added benefit of using a natural refrigerant (CO2) rather than commonly used high-GWP refrigerants. Glaciem’s technology also uses an advanced control and forecasting system to optimize the system’s operation based on forecasts of weather, electricity price, and customer demand to optimize the storage system and maximize customer savings, according to the release.

  • The project, building on the outcomes of previous ARENA funded research, will demonstrate Glaciem’s system at three different customer sitesCeravolo Orchards in Oakbank, South Australia, will install Glaciem’s system with on-site solar-PV generation to manage peak demand and optimize the storage and use of renewable energy in a cold-storage system.
  • Pernod Ricard Winemakers in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, will install Glaciem’s system with on-site solar-PV generation to reduce exposure to peak electricity costs for process cooling.
  • Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville, Queensland will expand the existing solar PV capacity at the site and integrate it with Glaciem’s technology to optimize the air conditioning and water-cooling load at the site.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said Glaciem’s thermal storage combined with renewable-energy generation demonstrates an innovative solution that will help industry to reduce emissions and derive more value from on-site renewable energy. “These pilot sites trialing Glaciem’s technology will demonstrate that refrigeration equipment, grid supply and on-site renewable energy generation can be reliably integrated across a range of commercial businesses,” he said. 

“There are significant opportunities across the heating and cooling sector to reduce energy costs and emissions by combining renewable energy alternatives with innovative storage technologies, and we’re proud to support a homegrown start-up like Glaciem to do just that,” said Miller.

“The project aims to commercialize previous research funded by ARENA and will demonstrate that there are real viable alternatives for end users of HVAC&R that drastically reduce operating costs, maximize the economic potential of renewable energy assets and reduce direct and indirect CO2 emissions,” said Julian Hudson, Glaciem Managing Director. 

“There are significant opportunities across the heating and cooling sector to reduce energy costs and emissions by combining renewable energy alternatives with innovative storage technologies.”

Darren Miller, ARENA

Other research

This isn’t the only grant that Glaciem has received for the research it’s doing in collaboration with UniSA. 

The team has also been awarded close to AUD$1m (US$0.68m) from the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund to develop a commercialized renewable-energy-driven cooling technology integrated with energy storage for the refrigeration of raw milk.

It is also conducting research in the application of CO2 systems capable of achieving high energy efficiency in 45°C (113°F) ambient temperatures, and has received a South Australia Government grant for this research under the Department of State Development Innovation Voucher Program.

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