Storing renewable energy problem SOLVED

Researchers at MIT have designed in theory a system that can store renewable energy in the form of heat that can later be used to make steam. It’s quite an interesting read and sounds to me like they have it well figured. In other words, problem solved.


How does something developed in a university get into the private sector or business? I assume that has happened a number of times but I’m ignorant on how this process works?

MIT in particular has an entire department dedicated to just that. They have labs where high tech scientists just tinker day after day developing whatever they dream up. They hold hundreds of patents and have brought many products to market, all cutting edge at the time of release.

I see someone at MIT was a fan of Max Shreck from Batman Returns.

So the university licenses the patents to private businesses?

They have corporate sponsors who get to use whatever they come up with royalty free for two years before other companies are allowed to use the patented technologies. So they don’t exactly license it out in the traditional sense with royalties and all that, but the labs are well funded and a lot of corporations get a good deal.

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I didn’t see the movie. They had molten silicon?

I saw a very interesting documentary on the MIT Media Labs on either Netflix or Amazon Prime I think it was. Worth looking for to anyone interested.

No problem has been solved at your title says.

“We’re developing a new technology that, if successful, would solve this most important and critical problem in energy and climate change, namely, the storage problem.”

First they have to show it is successfull, viable, and affordable.

Right now it is only a working theory.

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If I was referring to that I’d have joked about breast enlargement.

Rather Max’s big plan was to build a capacitor rather than a power plant to drain off energy from the grid in order to store and sell it back.

All the technology to be used is proven. The system is already used with molten salt and much lower temperatures and they have developed all the necessary components to deal with the much higher temperatures of molten silicon. While what you are saying is of course technically accurate, this is now just a question of taking “off the shelf” technology for the most part and building an appropriate system.

Maybe I’m jumping the gun, but I have been following this kind of thing for years and I am convinced that this is the technology that will turn the corner in renewable energy storage. Utility scale solar electricity is down to about three cents a kilowatt hour, and that leaves a lot of wiggle room to create the infrastructure to get this thing off the ground. The size of investment required will be a no brainer for utility companies while still turning a profit.

LOL, that’s a good one for that kind of movie. Capacitors aren’t really suitable for that but I’m sure they “fixed” it somehow in the movie to make it believable. .

A good example here and a fun story is actually Gatorade. As others have pointed out, universities have tech transfer offices that support commercialization. And what some are doing is giving faculty permission to leave, build a company based on uni-developed tech and come back.

And then you have Uber, which paid a bunch of Carnegie Mellon robotics faculty and staff eight buttloads of money to leave academia and work on self-driving tech (and donated 2 buttloads to the university for the poaching).

Yes. And the most effecient one I’m aware of is in Arizona. They have continuous leeking problems, and even on the day with the most sunshine a year, they still have a few hours a day where it produces no energy.

With one notable exception. They haven’t created a large container system that will be assembled in parts. That’s one key issue as they have learned in the Arizona project.

Off the shelf right now is small containers that might power a single home. Scaling it up is going to be the fun part.

Cool. I like clean, renewable energy. But it is typically a liberal cause. What we need right now is for some liberal city to take the bull by the horns and give it a try. If it works, we can follow. Who’s in?

While they have not built one, they have shown that a large graphite container will form a layer of silicon carbide that prevents it from leaking and have proven that it can be assembled in pieces and sealed with carbon fiber bolts and a graphite type of tape. These are more like construction issues than technology issues and are able to be tackled.

The leaking salt container is a flawed welding seam and easily fixed in itself, though it’s a big job due to the logistics involved.

Spoil sport. What did you do? Read the article? :wink:

Now re-reading the article:

To test this possibility, the team fabricated a miniature graphite tank and filled it with liquid silicon. When the liquid was kept at 3,600 F for about 60 minutes, silicon carbide did form, but instead of corroding the tank, it created a thin, protective liner.

When they get into a larger vessile, the “cool” side will sit in the containment vessel for days/months/years? How well will the thin coating last over time?

Meanwhile, liquid silicon is pumped out of the cold tank and further heats up as it passes through the bank of tubes exposed to the heating elements, and into the hot tank, where the thermal energy is now stored at a much higher temperature of about 4,300 F.

have they tested to see what the carbon vessel will react with liquid silicon that is 700 degres hotter. And if they put cooler in to create the “lining” what will the 700 degree increase do to it?

In their paper, the researchers demonstrated that they could prevent any leaks by screwing pieces of graphite together with carbon fiber bolts and sealing them with grafoil – flexible graphite that acts as a high-temperature sealant.

Not enough information on how the demonstrated the bolts and frafoil will work. How big of a container did they build? What temp liquid did they put in it and for how long?

Lots of questions from the article. FAR from solved.