Electricity From Air

by John Fiore, (M.ASCE), Gibbs and Hill, Inc., New York City, NY,
Peter A. Totten, (M.ASCE), Gibbs and Hill, Inc., New York, NY,
Roger Schalge, (M.ASCE), Fenix and Scisson, inc.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1989, Vol. 59, Issue 7, Pg. 52-53

Document Type: Feature article


After a decade of research and dozens of feasibility studies at sites around the country, the first Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) plant in the U.S. is under construction at McIntosh, Ala. The 110 mw plant, scheduled for commercial operation in March 1991, has as its storage area a 19 million cubic foot cavern mined from a salt dome. It will be linked to an existing powerplant for the storage/withdrawal cycle that is essentially the same as a pumped hydro cycle. Air will be compressed with off-peak energy. For peak use, the air is withdrawn, heated and forced through an expansion turbine-generator. The charging cycle is planned to produce 100 mw net for 10 hours continuously each weekday; thus, for each hour of generation, there are 1.7 hours of compression. Mining the salt dome is being done by circulating water through concentric casings grouted into place within a single hole drilled to 2,650 ft. Maximum casing depth is 1,146 ft. Rather than use and dispose of fresh water to dissolve the interior of the salt dome, the contractor is using the process discharge of a nearby chemical plant and then returning the brine to the plant to be used as feedstock.

Subject Headings: Salt water | Compression | Domes (structure) | Electric power | Feasibility studies | Construction sites | Power plants | Energy storage | California | United States

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