Cars aren’t the only thing making the switch from gas to electricity. From lawnmowers to entire power plants, the gas engine is being replaced by batteries for a more efficient way of powering items.
Let’s examine why some items run better with batteries before looking at the numerous items being redesigned to work on electricity.
Batteries and the use of electricity represents a better solution for many things over combustion engines. Electrical items provide the same mobility as traditional tools, but they’re quieter, produce less heat and tend to be more efficient in their usage of energy than their fossil fuel-burning counterparts.
Depending upon where you live, the use of electricity in place of gasoline may be more convenient and cheaper. You only need to plug the battery in to the wall to recharge it, which means that there’s no reason to run to the gas station.
You now have a general idea as to why electricity can work better, which makes it possible to understand the practical use of batteries in place of gasoline.
Let’s examine some of the battery powered items that were formerly powered by combustion.
The most common designs for gas-powered leaf blowers have them sucking in air through the sides to cool the engine before forcing it out the front. This 90-degree turn brings a significant amount of waste into the equation due to the heightened amount of air resistance experienced.
Battery powered leaf blowers, due to the decreased amount of heat produced during their operation, don’t require this. They can use the most efficient path for air to travel, which is straight from the back to the front, which means that they require less energy to operate.
Most trimmers employed in edging lawns are bulky or burdensome. Gas lawn trimmers are heavy, while electric trimmers tend to enjoy less mobility without miles of extension cord.
Lawn trimmers that work on batteries enjoy the unique advantage of being up to 28-percent lighter than their gas-powered counterparts. Because they use batteries, you can charge them and use them until they run dry. This can make yard work easier than ever before.
If you’ve ever tried to start a gas-powered chainsaw, you’ve likely found that it takes several tries before the motor fires up.
Battery powered chainsaws can start on the first press of the button. When they incorporate the use of lithium-ion batteries, they can continue to run long enough to trim branches and cut down several trees.
Gas-powered lawn mowers are loud, dangerous and tend to become less reliable as they age. This means that you have to deal with costly maintenance of the combustion system, while still needing to maintain the actual parts of the mower responsible for trimming your grass.
Electric lawn mowers circumvent a number of these problems. Because they operate on batteries, they can go anywhere. With enough capacity in their batteries, they can handle large, rugged lawns while adding significantly less noise pollution. Your neighbors may not even hear you mow with one.
Solar energy is free and produces markedly less greenhouse emissions than combustion engines. Their only problem is that these systems only produce energy while the sun is visible.
To circumvent this and to replace things like diesel generators, batteries are being used to store electricity until it needs to be used. This enables a cleaner, quieter and more efficient way to produce electricity.
The largest consumer of gas and other combustibles are the things used to produce electricity: power plants. They share the same pitfalls that tools using combustion engines do, but they apply to a much larger scale.
Combustion plants work in such a way that they produce a certain amount of electricity based on the amount of fuel put in to them. This requires utility companies to constantly monitor and regulate how much energy gets produced to reduce waste.
Smart electricity companies are scaling back on their power plants to use large batteries in their stead. This allows their plants to run continuously, which in turn allows for less electricity to be wasted.
Many people believe that using renewable energy is not effective because not enough energy can be generated to meet the needs of a community. However, this is not necessarily the case. Renewable energy creates so much energy that we do not have large enough storage systems to sustain it. As a result, a great deal of the energy produced is lost. Luckily, a startup in Emeryville, California has potentially created a way to store huge quantities of energy much more efficiently.
According to MIT Technology Review, a one megawatt plant will be created specifically designed for molten salt energy storage. This is a technique that was previously utilized in some plants that specialized in making solar energy. Using molten salts as a form of energy storage is said to cost only half as much as regular battery energy storage costs. In order to use molten salts for storage, the salts need to be melted down and then stored in containers that have a high R-value. When the energy that is stored is needed, the molten salts are then pumped, causing a release of energy from the heat exchange.
Molten salts are not nearly as efficient as regular battery energy storage, since only 70% of energy that is used to heat the salts to a temperature that is considered to be molten will become electricity again. In comparison, 90% of the energy put into traditional batteries is able to be recovered. The only reason why using molten salts is so cheap is because the materials are exceedingly easier to find, thanks to the high-throughput screening system that has been developed.
The main reason why molten salt is an excellent option for renewable resources is because of the large quantity of room for energy storage. The storage space is also extremely flexible with regards to where resources are stored. This is important because power from renewable resources tends to come in spurts, rather than in steady increments. In order to handle the ebb and flow of energy, a high level of flexibility and storage space is required.
Currently, Halotechnics is developing a system that will infuse the molten salt solutions with properties that will allow them to take in any sort of energy and store it as electricity. An automated system is being created that will be able to mix different substances of molten salts so that they have properties that are needed for the task at hand.
Molten salts are going to be used specifically for solar energy storage by allowing energy to be stored at 1,200°C. This would allow the number of solar mirrors that are needed to generate solar energy to be diminished, saving the companies that generate such energy a great deal of money and maintenance time. This application is currently one of the most viable on the market for solar energy storage.
Renewable energy has become a hot topic in the last few years as more people understand how finite natural resources really are. While there are currently many sources of renewable energy, there are some major issues that keep them from becoming more popular. A Harvard team of researchers has recently discovered a new way to create batteries that could not only improve current renewable energy sources, but make them much cheaper.
The major problem with most of today’s renewable energy sources is that they don’t produce energy if the sun isn’t shining or the wind is still. This means that the batteries can only produce and hold so much power, which makes it difficult to use renewable energy during the winter, night or certain areas with little sun or wind.
In addition, the batteries that hold this energy are very limited and quite expensive. As a result, most batteries use metal to hold their charge; the two most common being nickel and lithium.
A team of researchers has recently discovered a way to improve these batteries while making them cheaper. While the results are just preliminary and the battery isn’t yet being produced, the findings are astounding.
Instead of using metal, the researchers are using a certain type of carbon found in crude oil. This carbon, known as quinone, is capable of holding two electrical charges per molecule, which makes it much better than lithium and nickel because they can only hold one electrical charge per molecule. This literally doubles the amount of electricity that can be stored without increasing the size of the battery.
Another benefit is that the carbon is easier and cheaper to harvest. This can decrease the price of similarly sized batteries, even though they can hold more power.
This team of researchers has received a fair amount of funding for this battery and improved ones. They received about $590,000 to make the battery in a year, however there is talk about extending the contract to three years for $3.75 million.
While the Harvard researchers are elated about what they discovered, they just consider this the tip of the iceberg. There are many other carbon molecules with similar properties found in crude oil, and some of them might be able to hold even more power that the quinone molecule.
They are also considering commercializing the battery for people who use renewable energy sources. They are thinking about a battery that’s the size of a trailer that homeowners and businesses could use to store energy during the night. While there are risks to this technology if it doesn’t work as planned with a commercial venture, many people are excited about this new type of battery.
Many people have embraced renewable power, but it still has many problems in terms of collecting and storing energy. While this new advancement won’t entirely correct these issues, it will make it much easier to store all of that energy from the sun and wind.