MGA Thermal awarded $1.27 million by ARENA to build demonstrator facility

Energy storage startup MGA Thermal has been awarded $1.27 million funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to help build a technology demonstrator near the company’s Newcastle factory and offices.

MGA is commercialising an energy storage approach based on a “miscibility gap alloy” material developed by University of Newcastle researchers, able to store heat generated by renewables in bricks (pictured) which can be scaled up based on demand.

According to the company, 1,000 of its bricks can store enough energy to meet the needs of 60 homes over 24 hours.

The ARENA grant announced on Wednesday will support construction of a Medium Duration Thermal Energy Storage demonstrator (MDTES), expected to cost $2.85 million. 

The pilot unit has a planned capacity of 5 megawatt hours and ability to charge and discharge up to 500 kilowatts.

“The electricity transition is going to require a variety of storage technologies that are able to discharge over a range of timeframes from hours to days,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

The company’s co-founders say their technology is useful for cheap storage in a middle time frame between that of lithium ion batteries and hydro-power.

The MDTES unit will be used to collect performance data, as well as demonstrate the technology to prospective clients. According to the release, data collected will include around “charging and discharging behaviour, fluid dynamics and temperature distributions, and validate the efficacy of mid-to-long term thermal storage in a practical system.”

“With potential deployments for industrial heating end uses, MGA Thermal could play a valuable role in decarbonising both the electricity grid and heavy industry, which often requires high temperature heat and steam for their manufacturing needs,” added Miller.

MGA Thermal recently launched its new factory, which is expected to have capacity for 1,000 of its storage bricks per day by the end of 2022. This was followed by an $8 million capital raise announced last week, led by Main Sequence and OP Ventures.

Picture: MGA Thermal

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