Salt: The Answer to Cheaper, More Practical Way of Energy Storage?

Salt written on spilled salt image vignetted  Salt written on sp

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.

How are Molten Salts Used?

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.

Why is it so Cheap to Use Molten Salts?

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.

Why is Molten Salt Storage Excellent for Renewable Resources?

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.

What Developments in this Field are there?

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.

What are the Specific Applications for Solar Energy?

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.