Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “storage”

Seasonal Storage of Heat in Sand

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The world’s first fully working “sand battery”, which can store green power for months at a time, has been installed by Finnish researchers. The developers said this could solve the problem of year-round supply, a major issue for green energy. Using low-grade sand, the device is charged up with heat made from cheap electricity from solar or wind. The sand stores the heat at around 500C, which can then warm homes in winter when energy is more expensive.

Solid Hydrogen Storage

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Near the end of last year I published a video on solid hydrogen storage and it got a lot of questions, critiques, and push back from some of you. In some cases, rightfully so, and in other cases, not so much. Based on the more constructive critiques, the video focused too much on one company, Plasma Kinetics and their claims. It didn’t give enough context around metal hydrides in general. In trying to simplify a pretty complex topic, I oversimplified some things, which created problems. So is solid hydrogen storage actually a thing? Is solid hydrogen currently being used? And what about Plasma Kinetics? Let’s take another crack at solid hydrogen energy storage and try to address some of the shortcomings of my last video.



Borophene could replace graphene as the next super material, especially in the realm of batteries, electrolysis, capacitors and hydrogen storage.

[] – Borophene
[] – Review of borophene and its potential applications

We also discuss in detail the utilization of the borophene for wide ranges of potential application among the alkali metal ion batteries, Li-S batteries, hydrogen storage, supercapacitor, sensor and catalytic in hydrogen evolution, oxygen reduction, oxygen evolution, and CO2
electroreduction reaction.

Why This Accidental Battery Breakthrough Matters

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Exploring why an accidental discovery may have unlocked the holy grail in battery research: an energy dense, long lasting, and safe battery. Lithium sulfur batteries may be the holy grail of energy storage. Besides fueling electric vehicles (EVs) adoption, they could turbocharge the integration of renewable energy into our electric grid. However, a technical fault has been holding back their economic feasibility…until now. Could this lithium sulfur discovery from Drexel University make it the future of battery storage?

[] – Lithium–sulfur battery

The big deal is that Lithium-Sulfur has potentially 2-3 times the energy density compared to Lithium-Ion. The problem with Li-S is that it is not stable, the charging process ruins the battery. But the scientists working on the topic accidentally discovered a way around the problem, resulting in:

After 4,000 charge-discharge cycles over the course of a year, which is equivalent to 10 years of regular use, the sulfur cathode remained stable and had not degraded. As predicted, the battery’s capacity was more than three-fold that of a Li-ion battery.

It also means that sulfur replaces the problematic cobalt.

[] – Scientists accidentally stumble on ‘holy grail’ of batteries for electric vehicles
[] – Drexel team develops stable Li-S battery with carbonate electrolyte

900 miles per charge is coming.

The death of the satellite? This Airbus aircraft managed to stay airborne for 11 days, without any propulsion, other than solar and lightweight lithium-sulfur batteries, and it could have stayed in the air indefinitely.

Storing Solar Energy for 18 Years

Chalmers university in Sweden has been working on solar energy storage for quite some time and made headlines with a system that can store solar energy for many years (MOST – Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage Systems). Now they report a breakthrough of how to use that stored energy:

…the researchers have succeeded in getting the system to produce electricity by connecting it to a thermoelectric generator. Though still in its early stages, the concept developed at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg could pave the way for self-charging electronics that use stored solar energy on demand.

“This is a radically new way of generating electricity from solar energy. It means that we can use solar energy to produce electricity regardless of weather, time of day, season, or geographical location,” explains research leader Kasper Moth-Poulsen, Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers.

[] – Solar energy can now be stored for up to 18 years, say scientists
[] – Thermoelectric generator (Seebeck generator)
[] – MOST project site
[] – Molecular Solar Thermal energy storage systems (MOST)
[deepresource] – Storing Solar Heat for Decades

Energy Storage in CO2 Dome

An Italian company by the name of “Energy Dome” has constructed a 4 MWh electricity storage facility on Sardinia. The output is 2.5 MW, expansion towards 8 MW at the same site is factored in the design. Further expansion towards 25 MW and 100 MWh or 200 MWh is planned. The storage is basically an inflatable balloon and uses supercritical CO2 as a working medium, that gets compressed up to 70 bar. The rationale for using CO2 lies in its supercritical properties at 70 bar pressure and 30 C temperature, at which CO2 has a volume 400 times less than at 1 bar. The roundtrip efficiency is at 80%, which includes both electricity and heat. The beauty lies in its simplicity and absence of rare materials.

[] – Project site
[] – Energy Dome launches world’s first CO2 battery for long-duration storage
[] – Supercritical carbon dioxide

Zinc Bromide Gel batteries Better than Li-Ion

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Energy storage is becoming an increasingly crowded market which, at least at utility scale, is still dominated by lithium-ion technology. But cheaper, greener and safer alternatives are being developed all the time. One of the latest candidates uses well established zinc-bromide chemistry but with a completely new twist, all wrapped up in very inexpensive and easily recyclable packaging from existing battery production lines. Very clever!

[] – Zinc–bromine battery

Read more…

GE’s Molten Salt Battery Failure


In 2011, then-President Barack Obama visited a General Electric or GE facility in the town of Schenectady, New York. There, he mostly discussed wind turbine exports. But he also briefly mentioned an “advanced battery” business with great promise.

Obama was referring to a molten salt stationary battery technology branded as Durathon. GE CEO Jeff Immelt believed that it will become a billion dollar business.

But Durathon fell far short. In 2015, the company closed its battery manufacturing factory in New York after investing nearly $200 million. Nearly a hundred people lost their jobs.

In this video, we are going to look at General Electric’s failed molten salt battery business venture.

Note, the video is not an argument against molten salt storage, just GE’s business planning.

The World’s Largest Battery Isn’t What You Think

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Because of the intermittency of renewable energy like wind and solar power, storing large amounts of electricity is a necessity for the decarbonization of our energy system. However, we still don’t have enough batteries to compensate for renewable energy slumps across the planet. When thinking about the biggest utility-scale energy storage installations, a huge cylindrical lithium ion battery powered light bulb may go off in your head. But what if I told you the world’s largest battery taps into water rather than lithium? Can an old technology, even one still learning new tricks, be the answer? Let’s see if we can come to a decision on this.

Storage Technology 30 Times Cheaper than Li-Ion?

Utility scale energy storage is a hot topic right now as grid operators look for ways to economically adopt intermittent renewable sources like wind and solar into our global electrical systems. Now a team at MIT has combined and improved several existing technologies into a flexible modular solution that could be as much as 30x cheaper than existing lithium-ion technology.

[] – Thermophotovoltaic efficiency of 40%
[] – Thermophotovoltaic

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