Saudi Aramco, Mazda and AIST to develop low-emission engines
Oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco has partnered with Japanese carmaker Mazda Motor Corporation and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) for the development of more efficient, lower-carbon engines.
Saudi Aramco will utilise Gasoline Compression Ignition (GCI) technology to provide low-carbon fuel, while Mazda will develop a prototype of an efficient engine, with the research and development to take place at AIST in Tokyo. The research programme is set to be completed in 2020.
In a press release, Mazda explained that the research will largely focus on developing a ‘low-carbon fuel’ as well as looking at the internal combustion engines that use the fuel. The companies feel this is important because in 2035, despite global efforts to move toward electric cars and the like, 85% of vehicles around the world will still be using combustion engines.
Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter, Chief Technology Officer at Saudi Aramco, stated: “This cooperative research with Mazda and AIST underscores our shared commitment to delivering advanced technology solutions that make a significant impact on real-world issues, notably a sustainable, affordable mobility future.”
Saudi Aramco has emphasised its support of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 which will diversify the country’s economy in order to reduce reliance on oil.
The company has taken several steps toward a more sustainable future, including agreeing to plant 1mn trees in Saudi Arabia. In May this year, the largest oil and gas company in the world announced that it would plant 26 varieties of trees and seedlings with low water consumption, to preserve natural resources in Saudi Arabia.
For Mazda’s part, this project is in line with its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 initiative which aims to “use driving pleasure, the fundamental appeal of the automobile, to help solve issues facing people, the earth and society”.
Form Energy receives funding power for iron-air batteries
Form Energy believes it has cracked the conundrum of commercialising grid storage through iron-air batteries - and some of the biggest names in industry are backing its potential.
The startup recently announced the battery chemistry of its first commercial product and a $200 million Series D financing round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund. Founded in 2017, Form Energy is backed by investors Eni Next LLC, MIT’s The Engine, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group and Macquarie Capital.
While solar and wind resources are the lowest marginal cost sources of electricity, the grid faces a challenge: how to manage the multi-day variability of renewable energy, even in periods of multi-day weather events, without sacrificing energy reliability or affordability.
Moreover, while Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, they run out of energy after just a few hours. Iron-air batteries, however, are predicted to have theoretical energy densities of more than 1,200 Wh/kg according to Renaissance of the iron-air battery (phys.org)
The active components of Form Energy's iron-air battery system are some of the cheapest, and most abundant materials: iron, water, and air. Iron-air batteries are the best solution to balance the multi-day variability of renewable energy due to their extremely low cost, safety, durability, and global scalability.
It claims its first commercial product is a rechargeable iron-air battery capable of delivering electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with conventional power plants and at less than 1/10th the cost of lithium-ion and can be optimised to store electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with legacy power plants.
"This product is our first step to tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonisation: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather, grid outages, or periods of low renewable generation," it states.
Mateo Jaramillo, CEO and Co-founder of Form Energy, said it conducted a broad review of available technologies and has reinvented the iron-air battery to optimise it for multi-day energy storage for the electric grid. "With this technology, we are tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonization: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather or grid outages," he said.
Form Energy and ArcelorMittal are working jointly on the development of iron materials which ArcelorMittal would non-exclusively supply for Form’s battery systems. Form Energy intends to source the iron domestically and manufacture the battery systems near where they will be sited. Form Energy’s first project is with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy, located near the heart of the American Iron Range.
Greg Ludkovsky, Global Head of Research and Development at ArcelorMittal, believes Form Energy is at the leading edge of developments in the long-duration, grid-scale battery storage space. "The multi-day energy storage technology they have developed holds exciting potential to overcome the issue of intermittent supply of renewable energy."
Investors in Form Energy's November 2020 round included Energy Impact Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners III, and Temasek.
In May 2020, it signed a contract with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy to jointly deploy a 1MW / 150MWh pilot project to be located in Cambridge, MN. Great River Energy is Minnesota's second-largest electric utility and the fifth largest generation and transmission cooperative in the US.
Last week Helena and Energy Vault announced a strategic partnership to identify additional opportunities for Energy Vault’s waste remediation technologies as the company begins deployment of its energy storage system worldwide. It received new investment from Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) in June.
Maoneng has revealed more details of its proposed 240MWp / 480MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in Australia (click here).
The BESS represents hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that will improve electricity grid reliability and network stability by drawing energy from the grid during off-peak periods for battery storage, and dispatching energy to the grid during peak periods.