As we recently noted, the wind deciding not to blow and the sun going down has always been the major obstacle standing in front of the widespread use of solar and wind energy. Energy sources like the sun and wind have the capacity to provide endless amounts of clean energy if we could only figure a way to properly store them. This is exactly what the people at Isentopic are banking on, as they believe their newly designed giant gravel batteries could be the solution to the solar/wind energy storage issue-
“Isentopic claims its gravel-based battery would be able to store equivalent amounts of energy but use less space and be cheaper to set up. Its system consists of two silos filled with a pulverised rock such as gravel. Electricity would be used to heat and pressurise argon gas that is then fed into one of the silos. By the time the gas leaves the chamber, it has cooled to ambient temperature but the gravel itself is heated to 500C. After leaving the silo, the argon is then fed into the second silo, where it expands back to normal atmospheric pressure. This process acts like a giant refrigerator, causing the gas (and rock) temperature inside the second chamber to drop to -160C. The electrical energy generated originally by the wind turbines originally is stored as a temperature difference between the two rock-filled silos. To release the energy, the cycle is reversed, and as the energy passes from hot to cold it powers a generator that makes electricity.” guardian.co.uk
“If you bolt this to a wind farm, you could store the intermittent and relatively erratic energy and give it back in a reliable and controlled manner,” says Jonathan Howe, founder of Isentropic and previously an engineer at the Civil Aviation Authority.
Howe is in the process of designing a small pilot plant that could store 16MWh at full capacity – enough for the electrical needs of thousands of homes. He apparently is also is in talks with what he refers to as “a large utility company” to sponsor the construction of a full-storage demonstrator system, something around the 100 kilowatt scale.
Category: Battery News