Energy stored in brine cells means that the cooling systems at Bergen airport in Norway can run for several days without any mains electricity. The new storage method could change the cooling industry, says civil engineer Rune Teigland of COWI.
Energy stored in 44,000 small plastic cells
Teigland works for COWI, which was part of the project design group for Terminal T3 at Bergen Airport, looking after fire safety, acoustics and energy among other areas.
Technology known from vineyards
This process – the transition of a substance between a solid and a liquid state – is called a phase change, and it is not a new and unfamiliar technology: for centuries, European wine growers have been placing containers of water between the grapevines when the frost threatens. When the water starts to freeze, it releases heat into the surroundings, which saves the grapes.
About the cooling plant at Bergen airport
- The system can run for two hours at full capacity just on the energy stored in the brine cells.
- Full capacity is rarely needed in Bergen – typically just for a few hours in the middle of the day in the summer months.
- In practice, the cooling plant can therefore run for several days with no mechanical cooling.
- The cost to the airport of the cooling system is around NOK 20 million.
- The system gives annual savings of around 5,000 megawatt-hours, or about NOK 5 million compared to a conventional system.