Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES)

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) is a long-duration energy storage technology that utilizes the principle of air liquefaction and expansion to store and release energy. Excess electricity is used to cool air to cryogenic temperatures, turning it into liquid air, which is then stored in insulated tanks. When energy is needed, the liquid air is warmed and expands, driving a turbine to generate electricity.

Impact on climate action

Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) within Thermal & Mechanical Storage bolsters climate action by offering a scalable, low-cost energy storage solution. By storing excess renewable energy as liquid air, LAES systems enable grid balancing, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and accelerate the integration of renewable energy sources, mitigating carbon emissions.


  • Air Liquefaction: LAES systems use refrigeration cycles to cool air to extremely low temperatures (around -196°C), causing it to liquefy and significantly reduce its volume.
  • Cryogenic Storage Tanks: Liquefied air is stored in insulated tanks that maintain the cryogenic temperatures, preventing boil-off and energy losses.
  • Expansion and Power Generation: When energy is needed, the liquid air is warmed and expands, driving a turbine or expander to generate electricity.
  • Heat Exchange: Heat exchangers are used to efficiently transfer heat between the liquefied air and the surrounding environment during the charging and discharging processes.
  • Hybrid LAES Systems: Hybrid LAES systems combine liquid air energy storage with other energy storage technologies, such as compressed air energy storage (CAES) or batteries, to improve efficiency and flexibility.

TRL : 6-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Improved Liquefaction Efficiency: Researchers and startups are developing more efficient and cost-effective liquefaction processes to reduce the energy required for cooling air to cryogenic temperatures.
  • Advanced Insulation Materials: Innovations in insulation materials are improving the thermal performance of cryogenic storage tanks, reducing boil-off losses and increasing storage efficiency.
  • Hybrid LAES Systems: Hybrid LAES systems are being developed to combine the benefits of liquid air energy storage with other energy storage technologies, such as CAES or batteries, offering greater flexibility and a wider range of grid services.
  • Waste Cold Utilization: LAES systems can be integrated with industrial processes that generate waste cold, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Enhanced Liquefaction Techniques
  • Next-Generation Insulation Solutions
  • Integrating Waste Cold Resources
  • Advancements in Hybrid Systems
  • Cryogenic Heat Exchange Innovations
  • Optimal Turbine and Expander Designs
  • Cryogenic Storage Tank Optimization
  • Scalable Commercial Implementation Strategies
  • Sustainable Materials for Cryogenic Storage
  • Cryogenic Energy Efficiency Enhancements
  • Novel Applications of LAES Technology
  • Cryogenic Storage Safety Measures
  • Thermal Management Solutions for LAES
  • Advanced Control and Monitoring Systems
  • Cryogenic Energy Storage Economics
  • LAES for Remote and Off-Grid Areas

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Highview Power:
    • Technology Enhancement: Highview Power is a leading developer of Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) systems. Their technology involves liquefying air using excess electricity during off-peak hours and then expanding it back into a gas to drive a turbine and generate electricity during peak demand periods. This process stores energy in the form of cryogenically liquefied air, providing a reliable and scalable energy storage solution.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Highview Power stands out for its innovative approach to long-duration energy storage using LAES technology. Their systems offer grid-scale energy storage capabilities, high efficiency, and long-duration storage, making them suitable for applications such as grid balancing, renewable energy integration, and backup power.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Highview Power serves utilities, grid operators, and renewable energy developers seeking cost-effective and sustainable energy storage solutions. Their LAES systems are deployed in utility-scale projects, microgrids, and industrial applications, enabling reliable and flexible energy storage and grid management.
  2. CryoGen:
    • Technology Enhancement: CryoGen specializes in the development of Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) systems for grid-scale energy storage applications. Their technology involves compressing and liquefying air using renewable electricity, storing it in insulated cryogenic tanks, and then expanding it back into a gas to generate electricity when needed. This process provides a flexible and efficient energy storage solution for balancing supply and demand on the grid.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: CryoGen stands out for its focus on optimizing LAES technology for grid-scale energy storage and renewable energy integration. Their systems offer high efficiency, rapid response times, and long-duration storage capabilities, making them suitable for supporting renewable energy sources and enhancing grid stability.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: CryoGen serves utilities, independent power producers (IPPs), and energy developers seeking reliable and cost-effective energy storage solutions. Their LAES systems are deployed in utility-scale projects, renewable energy facilities, and microgrids, providing grid balancing services, backup power, and renewable energy integration support.
  3. Sumitomo Heavy Industries:
    • Technology Enhancement: Sumitomo Heavy Industries (SHI) is a diversified technology company that develops and manufactures a wide range of products, including energy storage systems. They offer Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) solutions designed to store excess energy from renewable sources and deliver it back to the grid when needed. SHI’s LAES systems utilize cryogenic technology to store and release energy efficiently, providing grid stability and renewable energy integration support.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Sumitomo Heavy Industries leverages its expertise in engineering, manufacturing, and energy technology to offer comprehensive LAES solutions for grid-scale energy storage. Their systems are designed for high efficiency, scalability, and reliability, making them suitable for a wide range of applications, including renewable energy integration, grid balancing, and industrial power management.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Sumitomo Heavy Industries serves utilities, energy developers, and industrial customers seeking energy storage solutions to support renewable energy deployment and grid stability. Their LAES systems are deployed in utility-scale projects, renewable energy facilities, and industrial applications, providing flexible and reliable energy storage capabilities.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. University of Birmingham (UK):
    • Research Focus: The University of Birmingham is at the forefront of research on Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES), focusing on developing novel storage systems and optimizing the efficiency and performance of cryogenic energy storage technologies.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves exploring advanced thermodynamic cycles, heat exchanger designs, and liquefaction processes to improve the round-trip efficiency and energy density of LAES systems. They also investigate integration with renewable energy sources, waste heat recovery, and grid balancing applications to enhance the flexibility and resilience of the electricity grid.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in grid-scale energy storage, peaking power generation, and industrial process cooling. By developing scalable and cost-effective LAES solutions, the University of Birmingham’s research supports the transition to a low-carbon energy system, enabling higher shares of renewable energy penetration and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. University of Oxford:
    • Research Focus: The University of Oxford conducts innovative research on Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES), leveraging its expertise in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and cryogenic engineering to advance the understanding and deployment of cryogenic energy storage technologies.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses fundamental studies on the thermophysical properties of liquefied air, including phase transitions, heat transfer mechanisms, and energy storage dynamics. They also develop modeling frameworks, control strategies, and techno-economic assessments to evaluate the feasibility and performance of LAES systems in various energy storage applications.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in renewable energy integration, district heating and cooling, and grid stabilization. By exploring the potential of LAES as a flexible and dispatchable energy storage solution, the University of Oxford’s research contributes to enhancing energy security, reducing fossil fuel dependence, and promoting sustainable development.
  3. University of Leeds (UK):
    • Research Focus: The University of Leeds is engaged in cutting-edge research on Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES), leveraging its expertise in cryogenics, materials science, and energy systems engineering to develop innovative storage solutions for renewable energy integration and demand-side management.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves designing and testing prototype LAES systems, exploring new materials for insulation, thermal management, and energy recovery components. They also investigate the potential of hybrid energy storage configurations, such as combining LAES with compressed air energy storage (CAES) or thermal energy storage (TES) technologies, to optimize system performance and address specific energy storage challenges.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in off-grid electrification, remote power generation, and industrial decarbonization. By advancing LAES technology and demonstrating its feasibility in real-world applications, the University of Leeds’ research contributes to improving energy access, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting sustainable development goals.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

LAES technology is still in the early stages of commercial deployment, with a limited number of pilot projects and demonstration plants in operation. However, the technology is gaining increasing interest as a potential solution for long-duration energy storage and grid-scale applications. Highview Power has deployed several LAES projects around the world, including a 50 MW/250 MWh facility in the UK.