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What is the future of energy storage?
Apr 13,2021

ENERGY STORAGE: I firmly believe batteries are ultimately a dead loss except for tiny devices. MEGA LITHIUM BATTERIES ARE THE STUPIDEST THING EVER. A non-scientific political decision because battery uses tons of rare Lithium = vast volume of very light metal which largely comes from Australia, Chili; meaning 1 big battery & little left at huge cost to millions of world mobiles, radios, cameras, torches etc as lithium gets used up & virtually no recycling! At least the battery COULD be recycled for Lithium like lead. Incredibly, the coolest possible FUSION nuclear reactor (as opposed to fission as now) will take masses of Lithium for the walls, as I recall ages ago, that also become violently radioactive. Groups figured even if we could make a fusion reactor to produce power, then there was only enough lithium in the world to last for 20 years of fusion nuclear power - much less since lithium batteries became popular - after decades of R&D costing many countries $Billions!!
 
Alternatives without using minerals include: Big Flywheels in vacuo with magnetic bearings have proved efficient massive-energy storage devices for decades, as I recall reading details in a 1970s Scientific American. They would last decades longer than most batteries, & are electrically convenient AC or DC of any voltage.
 
A less exotic energy storage is the so-called Gravity battery consisting of a weight falling on a cable like a grandpa clock; difference being that the heavy weight (weight of a wreck car or 15 tons), tied by string to a cable drum, simply slides down a long variable-slope wire; very shallow if only small power needed. The drum - up a mountain, cliff or at sea - is geared to a generator. Both these schemes are long life engineering devices using junk, rather than chemicals & need no maintenance.
 
Super Capacitors are improving. Electrolysis where electric current produces Hydrogen & Oxygen. These can be returned to electricity in such as fuel cells.
 
Finally, well known storage is high temperature stored in bulk iron or carbon etc which is electrical-resistance heated, & Stirling cycle engine driving a generator for retrieval. But the bulk is easily heated by other means such as a fire or solar directly. I have heard of compressed air driving a vehicle. Solar, wind, geo, tide, waves, bio etc are energy generators, not storage; though hydro-electric can be both.

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