A team of researchers from Finland has developed the world’s first commercial-scale ‘sand battery’ that will be used to store power generated from renewable sources for months at a time to solve the problem of year-round supply, BBC reported.
Just like conventional energy storage systems, when excess power is generated through renewable sources than is required, it is directed towards the sand battery. Instead of trying to move electrons from one electrode to the other or power pumps to send water to a higher reservoir, a sand battery uses resistive heating to increase the temperature of the air, which is then transferred to sand through a heat exchanger.
With the melting temperature of the sand in hundreds of degrees Celsius, a tower of sand has a high potential to store energy. The sand stores this energy for several months together, making it a sustainable and reliable long-term storage solution.
Working with a small power plant in the town of Kankaanpää in western Finland, Polar Night Energy has erected the first sand battery on a commercial scale. The tall grey silo is filled with about 100 tons of sand used in construction, a relatively cheaper alternative to the lithium, cobalt, and nickel needed for other batteries.
This battery is powering the central heating system for the district at the moment. When energy prices are higher, the hot air in the battery can be used to warm the water and then pumped to offices and homes in the region.
This is a huge step in bringing the sustainable ways of storing and using energy.