- A cost-efficient method was developed by engineers to help with heat storage.
- Engineers made a silo filled with sand to help store heat.
- Heat can be a substitute for fossil fuel or renewable energy.
The problem with energy is the heat that it stores but what if instead of all that fancy technology, we used something a little more natural? Engineers have come up with a new thermal energy storage solution involving a silo stuffed with sand.
Energy storage often comes with the problem of how the heat is stored, while some solutions include vents or even water coolers, what about using other natural materials like sand? The engineers from Finland were able to do just this.
While the world is trying to move closer to renewable energy usage, there are many other elements of energy that also need to advance. One of these is the cooling technology and how it should be as efficient as possible without being too heavy on costs.
The Use of Sand to Store Heat
The sand-based high-temperature heat storage solution is being used in Finland’s Vatajankoski power plant. This is the first-ever sand-based energy storage solution developed by Polar Night Energy.
The thing about sand batteries is that they can serve dual-purpose use. The batteries can store heat to later be used to heat certain things like water.
World's first operational sand battery installed in Finland. The batteries help solve the solar intermittency problem by storing summer and day-time solar energy as heat that can be released in winter and at night to heat buildings.
— Matt Bruenig (@MattBruenig) July 5, 2022
Polar Night Energy co-founder and CTO, Markku Ylönen, construction for the storage went well despite the technology is completely new. They were able to come up with everything they needed despite challenges and a short delay.
The CTO noted that they realized there could be more potential in their system compared to what they initially calculated. The battery system uses a seven-meter-high steel container that is four meters wide with hundreds of tonnes of sand inside.
New Battery Silo Used to Store Heat and Not Energy
As per the company, sand is a durable and cost-efficient way to store heat at temperatures of 500-600 degrees celsius. The company also said that it is capable of 100kW heating power and 8MWh of energy capacity.
The reason behind them wanting to store heat is because this type of innovation is part of the smart and green energy transition. Storage of heat helps increase intermittent renewables when it comes to the electrical grid.
The co-founder said that the heat can also be used to heat the city which helps move the process towards a combustion-free heat production cycle. The silo works by hot air circulating through the heat exchanger and whenever electricity prices increase, heat is then expelled from the silo into the heating system of the district.
This helps take a lot of pressure off the use of fossil fuels and renewables when it comes to heating. The battery, however, should be differentiated from an electric battery since it is actually a heat battery. It was noted, however, that once the heat is converted into electricity, the efficiency will drastically drop.