One of the most critical areas of technological development for many industries is the ability to store energy. From miniature batteries capable of powering devices on a nano-sized scale to massive thermal batteries capable of storing enough energy to power cities, energy storage is a rapidly evolving field.
Over the past few years, energy storage technology has made steady progress in multiple categories. Read on to learn more about these exciting advancements.
Lithium batteries are fundamental for the operation of millions of devices across the modern world. As such, any major developments in this category are definitely ones to watch.
In 2020, researchers at POSTECH developed a new battery technology that enables lithium batteries in electric cars to charge up to 90 percent in only six minutes. This potential could further increase the momentum of electric cars in the automotive market across the world.
Thermal energy offers promise as a source of latent heat production. Some view it as a helpful if not necessary counterpart to solar energy as solar cells do not produce energy at night (whereas thermal energy batteries could potentially release heat gathered during the day throughout the evening).
Work is ongoing in developing working models of thermal energy storage. In 2020, a paper exploring functional models that concentrate solar power and successfully store and transfer heat using fluid was released.
Mechanical Energy Storage
Energy can be produced via the movement of mass, which is the guiding theory behind most mechanical energy storage technologies.
One of the most recent to be tested in earnest – and to show the most promise – is storing energy by using leftover electricity to compress air into a massive underground chamber. When the electricity is needed (such as during times of decreased solar or wind energy production), the pressurized air is released, producing electricity.
Hydrostor combined this theory with the usage of water to help maintain air pressure and produced a working model of mechanical energy storage.
Storing Electricity Via Hydrogen
Another exciting field of energy storage lies in the realm of hydrogen itself. In this category, unwanted electricity is converted into hydrogen and then stored indefinitely until it is needed.
Hydrogen-based energy storage is currently being rapidly developed due to its high capacity for storage potential. If hydrogen was stored in a 500,000 cubic meter underground cavern at 2,900 PSI, it would convert to 100 GWh of electricity, as an example.
Pumping Water To Create Energy Reservoirs
Water is capable of vast amounts of energy storage depending on how it is handled. Combining water with simple gravity mechanics is a winning strategy for advanced energy storage companies looking ahead for a long-term, low-cost solution, but only if they’re willing to work around the ecological limitations.
Several new projects built around isolated reservoirs that are designed to minimize ecological impact while maximizing storage gains are now in development, including a 1,300-megawatt project on Eagle Mountain in California.
From lithium batteries in cars to massive underground air chambers, advanced energy storage is taking on a variety of forms as technology develops in tandem with the needs of modern society.