DailyDirt: Storing Lots Of Energy

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The obvious challenge with renewable energy sources like solar and wind is: what do you do when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing? Solar and wind generators don't tend to produce electricity in convenient amounts whenever we want, leading to wasted resources and further reliance on fossil fuel generators to keep up with electricity demand cycles. Storing lots of energy in an efficient way that can be readily recovered isn't easy, but there are some solutions that could work. After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 5:11pm

    The city of Wales???

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      M. Alan Thomas II (profile), 27 May 2016 @ 12:25am

      Re:

      To be fair, it has a total population only slightly above my home city and well below the city I live in now. Heck, it's smaller than the total metropolitan area of the city I live in now (Chicago).

      That said, it's legally a country.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mb (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 5:32pm

    Chemical Energy

    There are many bio-diesel systems available, Sources like wood-byproduct, agricultural leftovers, and even human waste has been used, but one of the largest drawbacks is the requirement for energy input.
    I am surprised that nobody has planned a biodiesel processing plan powered by renewables. The output product could then be fed into diesel generators to provide supplemental power. The output of the diesels heat/gas can also be captured and fed back into the bio-diesel production process.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 30 May 2016 @ 9:45am

      Re: Chemical Energy

      Careful. Brazil has this experience and replacing land that would generate food for fuel is pretty much fool's gold. There are problems with soil salinization due to the reuse of the byproduct (that is rich in potassium), huge swats of land with a single culture and the obvious food issue. You need fertilizers (that come from petroleum), the transportation of food from farther regions means more fuel used (specially when we stupidly decided to use trucks instead of trains and boats) and you still need to control pests. So it's not that good.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 5:48pm

    Carbon Nanotube Batteries

    MIT figured out how to take sucrose and carbon nanotubes and generate power:
    http://news.mit.edu/2016/mit-develops-nontoxic-way-generating-portable-power

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David Anderson, 26 May 2016 @ 6:58pm

    Move the Electricity

    Local generation only really works when power can also be efficiently transmitted long distances. Sure, storage is good. But the sun is shining in many places even when it is night in Los Angeles. And wind blows in many places. Combine storage with transmission and make a better Earth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Greevar (profile), 26 May 2016 @ 7:08pm

    Angular momentum

    Storing energy by angular momentum of a flywheel suspended by bearings in a vacuum is another option.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flywheel_energy_storage

    Imagine flywheels as big as hydro-electric generators storing energy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 9:05pm

      Re: Angular momentum

      I read a short story once where advances in material sciences allowed people to drive a vehicle with a flywheel that was spun up to near relativistic speeds. It was destroyed once in place and the resulting kinetic energy redistribution was more damaging than any chemical based destruction that could be smuggled into a city.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 27 May 2016 @ 9:34am

        Re: Re: Angular momentum

        CSB, but that's just a story. We're nowhere near making flywheels rotate "near relativistic speeds" and won't be for decades or centuries. A flywheel spinning at several tens of thousands of RPMs is currently what we do, and is no more damaging in an accident than an internal combustion engine. If a flywheel failed, shrapnel could injure or kill one or two people, but that's rather unlikely in the first place, and no higher risk than being injured or killed if your gas motor failed in some way.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 8:12pm

    The trains up a hill strategy sounds awfully similar to the pump water up to a tank method that's been discussed before. The nice thing about water tanks is that they're probably going to take a lot less maintenance than using freaking trains. Further, having extra water higher up provides side benefits such as helping to sustain water pressure for small communities. There's no reason not to combine the systems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Andrew D. Todd, 27 May 2016 @ 8:31am

      Mining Skips, to Anonymous Coward, #6

      There's a type of freight elevator, used in underground mines, for handling crushed rock, known as a "skip." A skip is designed so that it can be filled from a chute at one level, and discharge into another chute at another level, thousands of feet higher or lower. A skip would be simpler and cheaper than a railroad. If, for some reason, one could not use pumped water storage, a skip in a mineshaft would be a reasonable alternative.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2016 @ 9:23pm

        Re: Mining Skips, to Anonymous Coward, #6

        Various types of open cut mines use similar technology and on dropping the skip downhill use regenerative braking to feed power back into the grid. Usually used to cut grid power usage and cost.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2016 @ 9:57pm

    Salt water batteries

    I recently discovered a company, Aquion Energy, that manufactures batteries that use salt water as an electrolyte.

    Although they're in production and available now, they're still too expensive for me, but all they're made out of is carbon, magnesium dioxide and salt water so I'm hoping the price quickly comes down to less than equivalent capacity lead-acid batteries.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 27 May 2016 @ 9:38am

    Another method

    One method I've always liked was to use excess electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen and store to use in fuel cells later when the wind/sun weren't generating enough energy. A little more complicated, and you have to be careful with the hydrogen, but it's completely feasible with current tech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2016 @ 9:25pm

      Re: Another method

      If you only have short term storage of hydrogen then should be useful, if longer term storage is required then you have to get around the problematic leaking of hydrogen through most materials.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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