The modelling and experimental validation of a cryogenic packed bed regenerator for liquid air energy storage applications

Robert Morgan, Christian Rota, Emily Pike-Wilson, Tim Gardhouse, Cian Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electrical energy storage will play a key role in the transition to a low carbon energy network. Liquid air energy storage (LAES) is a thermal–mechanical energy storage technology that converts electricity to thermal energy. This energy is stored in three ways: as latent heat in a tank of liquid air, as warm sensible heat in a hot tank and as cold sensible heat in a packed bed regenerator (PBR), which is the focus of this paper. A PBR was selected because the temperature range (−196 C to 10 C) prohibits storage in liquid media, as most fluids will undergo a phase change over a near 200 C temperature range. A change of phase in the storage media would result in exergy destruction and loss of efficiency of the LAES device. Gravel was selected as the storage media, as (a) many gravels are compatible with cryogenic temperatures and (b) the low cost of the material if it can be used with minimal pre-treatment. PBRs have been extensively studied and modelled such as the work by Schumann, described by Wilmott and later by White. However, these models have not been applied to and validated for a low temperature store using gravel. In the present research, a comprehensive modelling and experimental program was undertaken to produce a validated model of a low-temperature PBR. This included a study of the low-temperature properties of various candidate gravels, implementation of a modified Schumann model and validation using a laboratory scale packed bed regenerator. Two sizes of gravel at a range of flow rates were tested. Good agreement between the predicted and measured temperature fields in the PBR was achieved when a correlation factor was applied to account for short circuiting of the storage media through flow around the interface between the walls of the regenerator and storage media.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5155
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited


  • Cryogenic
  • Liquid air energy storage
  • Long duration storage
  • Packed bed regenerator


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