Energy storage

When it comes to the world’s future energy supply both fusion power and renewable energy are experiencing a steady pace of progress. However, regardless of the particular choice of technology, there is an ever increasing need for a reliable method of storing energy.

In case of wind and solar power peaks and dips in production do usually not align with those of energy consumption. And fusion power plants will have a constant output, while consumption heavily fluctuates.

Also the mentioned energy sources are mostly stationary, while energy is highly mobile these days – from cars to laptop computers and mobile phones. This further necessitates the existence of reliable and portable methods of energy storage.

ScienceDaily reports two interesting developments in the field of energy storage. One study has developed a new material for an efficient and relatively cheap way of storing hydrogen. Hydrogen is produced through electrolysis of water – the required electricity could be produced by either renewable or nuclear sources.

According to the researchers their method is able to outperform existing technologies such as lithium batteries.

Another report is about an alternative battery design. This potassium-oxygen battery is, according to its developers, more efficient and longer lasting that lithium batteries. However, the main benefit of this design is that both potassium and oxygen are way more abundant than lithium.

This Wikipedia article states that oxygen is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and potassium ranks eighth, while lithium is found at place 33. Consequently the material costs of a potassium-oxygen battery are much lower than that of lithium one. The researchers calculate material cost savings at about 66 percent.

2 thoughts on “Energy storage”

  1. Methanol is probably the best way to store nuclear and renewable energy on Earth. Methanol power plants are safer and more efficient than natural gas power plants. And its relatively cheap and easy to convert natural gas power plants for methanol use. Methanol can also be used in fuel cells. Methanol can be used to power automobiles and can be easily converted into gasoline or dimethyl ether (an diesel fuel alternative). Methanol is probably the cleanest and most convenient fuel for powering marine vessels. Methanol fuel cells plus batteries could also be used with propeller aircraft.

    Using electricity to convert biowaste (garbage and sewage) to methanol is substantially more efficient than synthesizing water and carbon dioxide into methanol. So at least some methanol production is likely to occur in space colonies.


    1. Methanol is certainly a good way to store energy, especially for the purposes you mention. Though there are instance, such as in laptops or mobile phones, where this might not the best way. So it is useful to have multiple methods of energy storage at our disposal and have the ability to chose the best method for a given situation.

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