A consortium comprising Innovatium, industrial partner Aggregate Industries and research partner the University of Birmingham has been awarded more than £350 000 in funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for the PRISMA project.

This funding was made through the Industrial Energy Accelerator (IEEA) program, which is administered by the Carbon Trust, designed to support partnerships between developers of energy efficient technologies and industrial companies willing to test them on site. The 24 month project involves the design of a coolth store utilising PCMs (Phase Change Materials) at the University of Birmingham's School of Chemical Engineering in addition to the design, manufacture and assembly of multiple system components by Innovatium before installation of the system at Aggregate Industries' Bardon Hill quarry. 

PRISMA (Peak Reduction by Integrated Storage and Energy Management) is a ground-breaking compressed air system which uses a very high efficiency air compressor using an innovative liquid air storage system (LAES). The stored liquid air has 150 x the density of compressed air and is 75% smaller than current compressed air storage systems. This onsite storage will allow existing partially loaded compressors to be switched off at selected times and PRISMA to take over . 

Dr Adrian Alford, Chief Technologist and Founding partner of Innovatium explains the ethos which led to the creation of the PRISMA project :"We are a technology company focused on renewable energy. We invent, develop and commercialise equipment and processes and enable greater renewable penetration on the electricity grid. the majority of renewable electricity generation is intermittent so, in order for renewable energy to be always available, energy storage is necessary. An added advantage to energy storage is that electricity produced when grid demand is low is currently wasted (a process called curtailment) can be stored for later use. we at Innovatium look for what can be removed from the process while maintaining the same overall function. Removed equipment results in both reduced capital and operating costs. PRISMA's LAES technology uses this approach in a compressed air system."

PRISMA combines an innovative latent energy cold storage tank filled with a phase change material (PCM) to store thermal energy and combines both off the shelf and PRISMA  specific designed components to form a system which can be integrated with existing compressed air systems. Professor Yulong Ding is leading a key work stream developing a novel phase change material and informing the design of a latent coolth (useful cold) store both of which are critical to the PRISMA project. 

Yulong Ding, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the University of Birmingham's Centre of Energy Storage, explained: " Phase Change Materials (PCMs) can be used for the storage of both hot and cold forms of thermal energy. They (PCMs) are growing in importance but to date the emphasis has been on hot forms of thermal energy and technology deployment has taken place outside the United Kingdom. This new project focuses on cold forms of thermal energy storage allowing us, with Innovatium and Aggregate Industries, to establish a platform to deliver a global first-of-a-kind system in the U.K. with the potential to revolutionise the industrial energy space."

The BEIS funding is allowing the technology to be taken from laboratory scale testing to demonstration level at Aggregate Industries' Bardon Hill quarry in Leicestershire where it's expected to improve the total system efficiency by up to 57% in line with the company's long term commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency. The implementation of the system at this location will be an important milestone on PRISMA's path to full commercialisation.

Richard Eaton, Energy Manager at Aggregate Industries, commented: "Supporting energy efficiency and carbon reduction innovation is at the heart of our renewed energy strategy. The PRISMA project and LAES is a key component of this approach and something we are passionate about. The project will help to address the 'energy trilemma' of managing energy efficiency, energy cost and energy security by; significantly improving the energy efficiency of our compressed air system; managing electricity costs by running the compressors out-of-hours when electricity; and helping to smooth and reduce the peak electrical demand on site. We are, therefore, very excited to to be the first industrial partner to install the PRISMA system at our Bardon Hill quarry in Leicestershire."

Following the successful delivery of the project, this scalable technology has multi sectoral applications for compressed air systems both in the U.K. and globally. Its flexibility and ability to adapt and mitigate the peaks and fluctuations in energy demand in an energy efficient  manner, significantly reducing energy usage and resulting operating costs.


Simon Branch, CEO and Founding Partner of Innovatium, commented:" We at Innovatium are delighted to be collaborating with Aggregate Industries and the University of Birmingham who are both recognised global leaders in sustainability and technology, utilising BEIS funding to enable the rapid commercialisation of our PRISMA  technology. Following the successful initial deployment at Aggregate Industries' Bardon Hill quarry, we anticipate the demonstration of PRISMA's energy efficiency and carbon reduction capability will show proven commercial and environmental benefits over compressed air systems, offering a cost saving alternative."