Concrete battery

We are the Borg.
User avatar
Anaxagoras
Posts: 24424
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:45 am
Location: Yokohama/Tokyo, Japan

Concrete battery

Post by Anaxagoras » Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:24 am

Energy Vault to build grid-level, gravity-fed battery from a tower of concrete blocks
Meeting our growing energy demands without continuing to destroy the planet might be one of the biggest challenges of our time, and it calls for some pretty creative solutions. Swiss company Energy Vault has just launched an innovative new system that stores potential energy in a huge tower of concrete blocks, which can be "dropped" by a crane to harvest the kinetic energy.
Neat idea, huh? All mechanical. Not a typical battery with an electro-chemical reaction. Just a bunch of heavy blocks that get stacked to store potential energy and unstacked to release the energy. They claim up to 90% efficiency, which sounds maybe too good to be true but I honestly don't know.
The company says each tower can be built to have a capacity of up to 35 MWh and 4 MW peak power based on their size, with the modularity of the system allowing capacity to be increased by building more towers. While it might seem big and cumbersome, the crane can be generating power in as little as 2.9 seconds, and has a roundtrip energy efficiency of about 90 percent. And unlike chemical storage systems, once those bricks are stacked up, that energy won't "leak" out or degrade.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare

User avatar
Abdul Alhazred
Posts: 75525
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:33 pm
Title: Yes, that one.
Location: Chicago

Re: Concrete battery

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:13 pm

How much power is used to stack them?
Image "If I turn in a sicko, will I get a reward?"

"Yes! A BIG REWARD!" ====> Click here to turn in a sicko
Any man writes a mission statement spends a night in the box.
-- our mission statement plappendale

User avatar
Rob Lister
Posts: 20653
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2004 7:15 pm
Title: Incipient toppler
Location: Swimming in Lake Ed

Re: Concrete battery

Post by Rob Lister » Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:23 pm

Abdul Alhazred wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:13 pm
How much power is used to stack them?
The maker claims 90% efficiency so the answer is 110% of the power derived from dropping them.

For comparison, li-ion has 99 percent charge efficiency

The article neglected the as-built cost per kW and kWh.

Better put, does it weigh more or less than the usual duck.
Last edited by Rob Lister on Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Abdul Alhazred
Posts: 75525
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:33 pm
Title: Yes, that one.
Location: Chicago

Re: Concrete battery

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:25 pm

On the plus side, the "battery" can be "recharged" without using electricity.

But how cost effective is slave labor these days? :p
Image "If I turn in a sicko, will I get a reward?"

"Yes! A BIG REWARD!" ====> Click here to turn in a sicko
Any man writes a mission statement spends a night in the box.
-- our mission statement plappendale

User avatar
ceptimus
Posts: 1132
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 11:04 pm
Location: UK

Re: Concrete battery

Post by ceptimus » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:24 pm

Looks like a maintenance nightmare to me. I don't think it would work well in freezing conditions or in high winds. Perhaps it's worth a try in a hot country that doesn't suffer many windy days, but I'm very sceptical. The blurb says it can use cheap recycled concrete substitute for the blocks, but I don't think these would have the necessary mechanical strength to allow them to be stacked into a tall, stable, tower. Ordinary concrete would do the trick, but it's not a very green material to produce in the first place.

User avatar
Rob Lister
Posts: 20653
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2004 7:15 pm
Title: Incipient toppler
Location: Swimming in Lake Ed

Re: Concrete battery

Post by Rob Lister » Tue Feb 19, 2019 10:40 pm

ceptimus wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:24 pm
Looks like a maintenance nightmare to me.
maybe
I don't think it would work well in freezing conditions or in high winds.
It'd be okay.
Perhaps it's worth a try in a hot country that doesn't suffer many windy days, but I'm very sceptical.
stop being a hater

I can't believe I am defending this.

User avatar
Anaxagoras
Posts: 24424
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:45 am
Location: Yokohama/Tokyo, Japan

Re: Concrete battery

Post by Anaxagoras » Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:51 pm

The biggest reason to be skeptical is that as of now it's only an idea. I don't think they've built the first prototype yet.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare

User avatar
Witness
Posts: 20714
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:50 pm

Re: Concrete battery

Post by Witness » Wed Feb 20, 2019 12:35 am

Anaxagoras wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:51 pm
The biggest reason to be skeptical is that as of now it's only an idea. I don't think they've built the first prototype yet.
Another being that they are very discreet about the specs (height, mass of the blocks, &c.).

And as for maintenance, as ceptimus said, near the sea and its wind turbines you'd also have corrosion, and in dry country sand and grit. (The Sahara killed one of my cameras, and it wasn't during a sandstorm…)

But at least it's a fresh idea. :)