Super-Hot Sand Can Help Us Store Excess Renewable Energy

By: | September 11th, 2021

Image courtesy: NREL

Today’s electricity grid virtually has no reliable Energy storage technology to store excess energy for later use. Battery storage systems can’t solve the world’s energy storage problem.

But now an interesting solution is in development by the researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The researchers recently unveiled their new thermal energy storage technology that uses hot sand to store energy.

The thermal energy storage system is being called the “Economic Long-Duration Electricity Storage by Using Low-Cost Thermal Energy Storage and High-Efficiency Power Cycle” or ENDURING in short.

Game-changer technology will revolutionize the renewable industry

What’s more interesting is that this system will be relatively cheap to build. Sand is one of the most abundant substances on Earth available freely. Which makes it absolutely cheaper than the raw materials used for making batteries.

The new thermal energy storage technology uses excess electricity from wind or solar to super-heat silica sand. Silica sand is very good for retaining and conducting thermal energy. The system heats the sand through a heater that heats the sand particles to reach a staggering 2,192°F (1,200°C).

The heated sand is stored in insulated silos made of concrete. During peak load, the sand goes through a heat exchanger that then pressurizes gas to power turbo-machinery and spin generators that create the electricity.

According to the NREL, even a single ENDURING system should be able to store as much as 26,0000 MWh of thermal energy.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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