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Frank Soto

Energy innovation is an area thriving with activity around the globe, fired by the need to find alternatives to traditional sources. Into this melee now strides a bold Australian with a doctorate in geosciences and a string of high-profile appointments under his belt. While Dr. Kevin Moriarty’s company, intriguingly named 1414 Degrees to get safely stuck in our memory, has been around a while, in recent months it has hit two major milestones: an ASX listing, and the $3.2 million trial of its breakthrough molten silicon technology with the Adelaide-based SA Water.

The first 10MWh TESS device nearing completion in the company’s Lonsdale workshop.

The ambitious GAS-TESS (the latter for Thermal Energy Storage System) is being put together by engineers at SA Water’s Glenelg sewage treatment plant, where it will burn biogas rising from the sewage to heat silicon, one of the most abundant elements on earth, to its melting point. (That melting point is, of course, 1414° Celsius, which clears up that mystery about the company’s nonconformist name.) The heat stored in this way in the molten silicon will be used directly, but also converted into electricity, to meet the energy needs of the SA Water plant.

Info-graphic shows how 1414 Degrees GAS-TESS technology revolutionises bio-gas energy production by allowing energy capture rather than requiring it be constantly used or vented.

According to 1414 Degrees, the GASS-TESS technology is a major development because, for industry, heat energy is an even bigger requirement that electricity. The molten silicon technology can be as cheap as 1/10th the cost of lithium-ion batteries. When combined with the flexibility of location that GASS-TESS offers – unlike, say, hydroelectric power – GASS-TESS can be a winner for many utilities and other potential clients around the world. 1414 Degrees already has in the planning stages two 1GWh projects in South Australia. Smaller projects, including a 25MWh TESS installation for a NSW poultry supplier, are already underway.

For the South Australian water utility, this 10MWh GAS-TESS pilot is part of the technology mix aimed at achieving its $0 net electricity costs target set for 2020. For 1414 Degrees, it is a much-awaited demonstration of its breakthrough technology, and unambiguous success here would open doors to new molten silicon storage technology projects globally. Aptly, the GAS-TESS installations resemble a recumbent missile, reinforcing the sense that 1414 Degrees is set for a wider launch.

SOTO Engineers has had a long and exciting relationship with 1414 Degrees, with SOTO experts doing Finite Element Analysis and Computational Fluid Dynamics work for the energy technology developer. SOTO looks forward to the much-deserved success of 1414 Degrees’ innovative GAS-TESS.

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