The SSi Energy solution is a compilation of leading edge technologies for heat and power production, storage and deployment. Heat is captured from multiple generators and stored in a thermal battery, to be accessed as needed by the community’s district heating system. The thermal battery can also be charged using renewable energy should there not be enough excess heat from the power plant.
The electricity produced from generators, solar and wind is stored in graphene-based supercapacitor storage units. If the community has access to hydro electricity, fewer generators are required and will be used primarily as a backup power source and to generate heat as required. All power is distributed to the grid through the “energy server” which provides voltage and frequency stability.
This innovative new heat and power system will dramatically reduce diesel consumption and decrease the total cost of energy in diesel microgrid communities by at least 40%, while enabling immense potential for long-term social, economic and environmental sustainability.
In hydro communities, our system provides distinct cost-saving advantages for the production of heat, and manages peak shifting by efficiently drawing the least amount of hydro electricity required to maintain an electrical storage charge.
By replacing large generators with multiple small units we gain significant advantages:
When the load is low (at night) or when renewable energy is available generators can be shut off;
Heat capture is easier and more practical to implement on small engines;
Units with heat capture would run in winter, and those without would run in summer, eliminating the need to remove the heat exchangers every year;
Smaller units are less expensive and much easier to transport and install;
Multiple units provide greater redundancy in the event of an engine failure;
Multiple units provide the ability to split assets between two locations to provide additional redundancy; and
Local diesel mechanics can maintain these smaller units, while the big generators require flying in specialized mechanics and specific tools.
Modern heat exchangers (HE) enable heat capture from the exhaust, turbo charger, water jacket and oil cooler, and these can be easily implemented on smaller generators. Heat exchangers capture this rejected heat using water, which then flows in a closed loop to a thermal storage device where we can store the heat.
Thermal batteries absorb and store heat energy using a technology called Phase Change Material (PCM). When the PCM comes in contact with heat, it changes from solid to liquid and stores the heat until needed. When the stored heat is released the PCM transforms back to a solid and the process is repeated.
With the SSi Energy Solution, the thermal battery is heated (recharged) using waste heat from the generators or can be recharged with excess renewable energy such as solar or wind. This heat is then distributed through a community district heating system to commercial buildings, greenhouses and affordable housing units.
District Heating System
The Thermal Battery provides heat to the main facilities in the communities via a closed loop utilidor system that circulates heated water on demand to the various buildings.
The average community will have enough energy to heat 400,000 square feet of building space, which is typically more than that comprised by the school, arena, health centre and offices combined.
With multiple small generators it becomes possible to incorporate renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines. This is possible because we can shut down one or more of the engines – reducing energy production – and take advantage of solar or wind when available. This will further reduce the cost of fuel and emissions levels.
The Thermal Battery can also be charged with electricity through a built-in heating element should there be an excess of solar or wind energy available.
Supercapacitor energy storage units are used to store excess electricity for later use, when needed. This revolutionary new energy storage technology can be used for everything from residential solar installations to large community grid scale applications. Unlike conventional chemical batteries, this new technology uses graphene supercapacitors to distinct advantage:
Scalability – Supercapacitor energy storage can scale from a few kilowatts to multiple megawatts;
Grid Stabilization – frequency & voltage stability, eliminating spikes and brownouts;
Environmental – able to operate from -30C to +85C;
Environmental Safety – 95% carbon, completely non-toxic, clean and recyclable;
Longevity – 1,000,000+ cycles and a 10+ year shelf life (45+ years operational);
Safety – remote monitoring of all operational parameters.
While the old diesel power plants produce electricity at 20% efficiency, wasting energy by burning large amounts of fuel even when the community’s load is low, our supercapacitor storage technology allows us to run multiple generators at full load and store the excess electricity. This maximizes the 33% electrical production efficiency of the generators.
With the SSi Energy Solution, all sources of electricity are connected to the Energy Server. This includes the multiple generators, hydro where available, solar panels, wind turbines and the energy storage units. Any excess electricity is stored for use as needed.
The Energy Server is connected to the electrical grid in the community and manages the flow of energy between all sources and loads as the load changes throughout the day.
When the electrical load of the community grid is low, the Energy Server directs surplus electricity to be stored. Once the energy storage unit is fully charged, generators shut down, further reducing fuel consumption and emissions. In the case of hydro communities, electrical consumption from the hydro grid is temporarily disabled. When the energy storage gets low, generators (or hydro) are brought back online to recharge it (if solar or wind is not sufficient).
When the electrical load of the community grid is high, the Energy Server will bring online as many generators as required (or draw from hydro as needed) to meet the demand. Any excess electricity is directed to the energy storage unit so that we are always running the diesel generators (or hydro connection) at peak efficiency. This is called “Peak Shifting”.
The energy produced from solar panels and wind turbines will vary depending on sun exposure and wind patterns. At times when either solar or wind sources are available, the Energy Server will prioritize renewable energy and run fewer diesel generators, (or draw less hydro electricity) again further reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
With the SSi Energy Solution, generators with heat capture charge the Thermal Battery using water flow through a closed loop. The Thermal Battery is connected to the community’s district heating system using another closed water loop to deliver space heating and hot water to homes and buildings.
The Energy Server is also connected to the Thermal Battery to enable recharging using the built in electrical heating element if no waste heat is available.
As the demand for heat rises and falls throughout the day, and varies from season to season, the Energy Server determines:
When to start or stop generators with heat exchangers installed;
When to start or stop generators without heat exchangers installed;
When to charge the Thermal Battery using surplus electricity.
The SSi Energy Solution is a game changer for rural and remote communities. By reducing the total cost of energy, significant community expenses can be redirected from the overhead burden of heat and power to much needed social and economic developments. The following video describes in simple animation how the SSi Energy Solution works for a typical northern community.