energy storage: battery alternatives?

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by jeremy, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. jeremy

    jeremy Junior Member

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    hey,
    does anyone know any 'appropriate technology' ways of storing energy (from solar, wind or micro hydro).
    Batteries must have a pretty high embodied energy as well as whatever toxic chemicals are inside them, so i'm looking for alternatives.
    i'm thinking a flywheel on magnetic bearings might work, but i can't find much info on this or whether it's practical.
     
  2. mluthi69

    mluthi69 Junior Member

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    Flywheel energy storage generally need high precision technology and operate in a vacuum to avoid friction with air. I would not feel comfortable sleeping next to a high-mass, high-speed rotating device. Appropriate? don't think so but then it depends on high-tech you are with your metal work :). If you have energy from micro hydro then why bother storing if it is constant day and night?
    You could pump water to a higher point during daytime and then use the pressure from the water to drive a turbine, you probably won't get much energy back that way. Batteries last between 10-20 years depending on quality, usage and maintenance. Besides the toxicity - you will also have to replace the batteries when they run out in 15 years. Maybe that will be a difficult thing to do by then. But then, batteries are not the only component in a solar pv setup with a limited life. Apparently Inverters have about the same lifespan.

    But by then, most people may go to bed and get up with the chickens :) I am thinking that it may be best to wire lights for 12v/24v (no inverter needed), cook with wood or solar ovens, heat water with a solar hot water system and build a passive solar house..
     
  3. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    compressed air - many sources of original energy from tide and wave to tromphe
     
  4. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Jeremy

    What scale are you looking at? Something for your own use, or something for a wider community? Either way, with the amount of sun kicking around in the Centre, my suggestion is that you explore solar thermal energy storage technology (STEST). For example:

    https://www.nrel.gov/csp/troughnet/thermal_energy_storage.html

    I suspect, STEST is going to play a much bigger role in serving the energy needs of remote and very remote Australia in the future. Especially concerning places of settlement that are remote from/unsuited to other (wave/tidal/wind/geothermal) sources of renewable energy.

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  5. jeremy

    jeremy Junior Member

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    good point :)
    that's how i want to live :D

    i'm just looking at a scale of one house, although i do like large scale solar thermal systems.
    solar pv panels only have a life of 20-30 years, so i'm thinking they're not so good.
    i'm starting to think wind and/or biogas are the way to go when it comes to permanence and self sufficiency.
     
  6. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Hi Jeremy,

    If we scaled down things more then significant savings can be made on things such as lighting.
    I was going to say compressed air as well but you have to make sure you have a safe container to store it in.
    I was very impressed with the Pritchard S5000 steam engine as well. Wood seams to be a very good storage of energy but it has to be prepared well for conversion and there are downsides to burning wood - although we are getting better at it. Biogas is the other one but they all have their drawbacks.
     
  7. jeremy

    jeremy Junior Member

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    just had a look at the steam engine. looks brilliant!! but could it be repaired if it broke?
    also, what are the drawbacks of wood and biogas?
     
  8. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Particulate pollution from incomplete combustion is still a small problem for wood if everyone did it. The steam engine could located remotely from a small community and steam engines are now far easier to maintain than petrol engines because of the absence of combustion inside.

    Any energy systems are going to have a certain amount of maintenance and risks. Sharing a device would have economy of scale.

    Biogas - needs large volumes, lots of smelly fuel and there are safety issues but it burns pretty cleanly.
     
  9. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I don't understand, you are on one right now, it's part of your environment at all times.

    The mass of Earth = 5.9742 × 1024 kilograms, and it is traveling at 67,000 mph around the sun, which is moving at a speed of 630km per second in this galaxy.... give or take. It's all relative anyway isn't it? :rofl:
     
  10. jeremy

    jeremy Junior Member

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    Do you think the Pritchard S5000 could be used with solar thermal power? if so, it almost seems too good to be true. it would last so much longer than solar PV because it could be repaired at home.
    you could use solar thermal for power during the day and at times when you need electricity when the suns not out you could put some wood in the steam engine. if you had a fridge that was well insulated and only needed cooling down a couple of times a day, then you wouldn't even have to store the energy.
    i think this sounds like the perfect self sufficient energy system. :)
    do you recon it would work?
     
  11. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I think this is the most viable option. There are optional ways to resource compressed air into nearly (if not everything) everything you need to do energy wise.

    I recommend you check out the trompe thread in this subforum.
     
  12. jeremy

    jeremy Junior Member

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    what is trompe?
     
  13. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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  14. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Sun dried food

    Also think about Sun dried food to give you the energy to do work when food is less abundant. A snack of sultanas often gives me what I need to finish a row in the market garden.
     
  15. Nickolas

    Nickolas Junior Member

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  16. jeremy

    jeremy Junior Member

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    i read about trompe, am i right in thinking it is a type of hydro power in the form of compressed air?
    i'm trying to build a solar food dehydrator, does anyone have any simple designs?
    and do you think compressed air would work for extremely small scale energy storage, like the amount of energy in a couple of AA batteries.
     
  17. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Compressed air is light and relatively safe compared to some fuels. At high pressures it can be dangerous. It could probably be transfered relatively easy or pumped via high pressure hose from up a windmill. Every time you transform energy from one form into another, you loose some of it in heat etc. Also when transfering it from one place to another takes energy. The pritchard standing engine looks like good base load power, heat and hot water when other energies are not available.
     
  18. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    you could drive a magneto from a cycle light and run a radio or such I would think.
    There are plenty of solar dehydrator designs on the net if you search but something that heats the air at the bottom and distributes it through wire racks evenly is a good start.
     
  19. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    It can do a lot more then just that. My wife and I are looking into this with extreme interest in running our whole property this way.
     
  20. PeterFD

    PeterFD Junior Member

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    Hi Jeremy

    I have a goat farm in the French Alpes and have spent the last year or so trying to find a viable energy system. So far I have a couple of 1kw wind turbines that I put together from parts ordered from various suppliers as prices/currency fluctuation permitted – Motors from America; Blades from Canada, regulators from Germany, with local home grown 6 inch thick round fencing posts to provide the towers. These charge a couple of large tractor batteries – which in turn power my electric fencing and lighting.

    Last year I heard of a farmer installing a steam engine with great success – however the costs involved were (relatively) enormous.

    However, I came across a small company in India that makes small compact steam engines to power electrical generators in small rural communities. They’re about as basic as you can get but are designed to burn any type of biomass (wood, straw etc;). I wont bore you with all the details, however their philosophy is quite compatible with permaculture.

    I got a quote for a 5KVA system complete with steam engine, boiler, and 5KVA alternator for 4,900 US$ and 400 US$ delivery to the docks in France. Much more in my price range but not quite ready to take the plunge just yet.

    I don’t need 5KVA for my farm but I had the idea of selling the surplus energy back to the grid. Depending on your particular point of view, selling surplus energy for money could be considered a form of very fluid storage?

    The company has a website at WWW.TinyTechIndia.com

    Go to “Renewable Energy” and then “Tiny Steam Power Plants” to view all the steam engine options. They had video links to YouTube which show you exactly what you get.

    You can also get information on their 6KW Solar Steam Power Plant - which seems to be exactly what you were suggesting as an ideal solution.

    They have some very interesting “low-tech” ideas, ………. don’t miss the “Bio Gas Plant” or the “Human Energy” options.

    They seem happy to send a quote via e-mail, and in general the prices given are less than some of those shown on the site.

    Further to an earlier suggestion concerning powering a radio, a possible solution could be a clockwork radio – and you may be able to take-off some of the power for other minimal uses.
     

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