Green energy: Trimet launches trial operation for "Virtual Battery"
by David Fleschen
TRIMET Aluminum SE launches trial operation for the "Virtual Battery". The first research work started six years ago. For the first time ever, the energy supply of aluminum production at the Essen plant can be flexibly controlled. This creates a huge power storage that makes it easier to integrate the unstably generated electricity from renewable energies into the power grid. A total of around 36 million euros were invested in the project.
"We have reinvented the electrolysis process for the production of aluminum. For the first time, we can significantly vary the energy input during operation. This is how we react to changes in electricity supply to the benefit of supplying households in Essen, "says Philipp Schlüter, Chairman of the Board of TRIMET. "As an aluminum manufacturer, we are naturally an energy-intensive operation. As such, we are also a valuable partner for the energy transition, "continued Philipp Schlüter.
With the conversion of a total of 120 kilns in Hall 1 of the Essen plant, it can be used for up to 48 hours by 25 percent more or 25 percent less power, without interrupting the production of aluminum. If necessary, the energy requirement can be reduced to 0 for up to one hour. For example, up to 2,000 megawatt hours of electricity can be saved for the benefit of the energy transition. Thus, the "virtual battery" has the capacity of a medium-sized pumped storage.
Since its invention in 1886, the process of producing aluminum has been based on a constant supply of energy. With the "virtual battery", TRIMET overcomes this dogma for the first time and makes the energy-intensive electrolysis process more flexible. For this flexible control of the electrolysis furnaces, TRIMET has developed a controllable heat exchanger together with the Bergische Universität Wuppertal, which keeps the temperature in the furnace constant despite unsteady energy supply.
Source and Photo: Trimet Aluminium