Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a unique concept for storing solar and wind energy that literally traps light and heat in tanks of white silicon and converts radiation into electricity when needed..
The new storage system, called TEGS-MPV, consists of two special graphite containers with a diameter of 10 m. The first tank contains «cold» silicon, the temperature of which is maintained at 1900 °C. When surplus electricity is supplied, it enters the heating elements interacting with the pipes, through which the substance begins to be pumped into «hotter» storage. Getting into the second tank, its temperature already exceeds 2350°C and it emits bright white light.
If necessary (after sunset or in calm weather), incandescent silicon is pumped through another set of tubes, where, using multi-junction photovoltaic cells, the radiation emanating from it is converted back into electricity, which enters the power grid. Chilled substance returns to the first container, where it is until the next cycle. To work with high temperature conditions, a special pump has been developed that entered in the Guinness Book of Records.
This system is actually an efficient battery and, according to the developers, its application is much cheaper than using lithium-ion devices or pumped storage devices. Despite the fact that there is a hot substance inside the container, it has room temperature outside. According to the calculations of the researchers, one such storage system is able to maintain a stable supply electricity from renewable sources in 100 thousand houses.
The image shows the storage model.
The researchers feared that under extreme conditions, silicon would begin to chemically react with the graphite from which the reservoir is made, gradually destroying it. IN During the tests, it was found that as a result of this interaction, silicon carbide is actually formed, but after the formation of a thin layer, it begins to protect the walls from further corrosion.
The large size of the structure does not allow the use of a single piece of graphite, therefore, to avoid leakage of the molten substance, individual elements were connected using carbon fiber bolts, and thermally expanded graphite was used for sealing..
Swedish physicists have developed another equally interesting concept storage solar energy. They created a liquid that is able to absorb the energy of sunlight in molecular bonds, store it for several years and release it if necessary..
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Unsplash
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