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California Cooldown Strategy: Store Energy in Blocks of Ice

From the rad department comes this great news for Southern California residents. Every summer in the region it gets unbearably hot, so everyone turns on air conditioners at the same time. That spells trouble for utility companies, who simply can't keep up with the demand. But this year, utility companies have a cool solution: a 53-megawatt distributed energy storage project-made of ice.Ice Energy's Ice Bears are small units full of ice that connect to a buildings' existing air conditioning units. They will be deployed "across a 7,000-square-mile service area, attaching the units to 1,500 commercial and rooftop air conditioners to help offset the burden." Here's how they do it:
The Ice Bear works by freezing 450 gallons in an insulated tank during the night, when energy consumption is at its lowest. A series of copper coils running through the tank pumps in enough coolant to turn the water to ice, where it remains until temperatures begin to rise during the day. When the AC begins its daily struggle to cool the building the Ice Bear kicks in, pumping the AC's warm refrigerant through the copper coils in the ice, cooling it without employing the AC's energy intensive compressor.When the ice is completely melted, usually about six hours later, the AC kicks back into normal operation, but by then peak demand has passed and the AC coasts into the cooler evening hours with less power consumption. The Ice Bear begins freezing the melted water in its tank, and the process starts again.
It's always fun when high concept science (massive energy storage) meets common sense (ice: cold).Via @bldgblog.

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