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Tesla: Please make a thermal battery

Tesla: Please make a thermal battery

I know you're all hyped up about your home lithium battery power system, but there's a much simpler way to store solar energy, called thermal mass storage. When the sun is shining during the day, store excess thermal energy to use at night and on cloudy, overcast days.

Basically it's a bunch of rocks, in an insulated box. Bricks with holes in them work pretty well too. A nice big 1 meter by 1 meter by 2 meter tall stack of bricks would store quite a bit of thermal energy. Customers who want more thermal storage capacity just need a bigger box with more bricks stacked in it.

You guys love exotic materials so insulate the box with aerogel, and then you can chill the bricks to -50C or heat them to +200C using spare solar energy, and they will hold that thermal charge for days with minimal loss.

Then all people need to do is blow air through the bricks with a fan when the sun isn't shining and hey, free air conditioning or heating. (Use an air-to-air heat exchanger to keep the bricks free of dust and moisture.)

This would be great for solar panel users whose electric utility doesn't reimburse for or pays very little for surplus generation.

yongliangzhu68 | 7 maj 2016

Barney Rubble you have some nerve stealing my idea.

Fred

Dramsey | 7 maj 2016

@dmahalko,

So, let's see some numbers: how big would the box be? What kind of rocks, and how much of them? How much thermal energy can a box store, and how large a house could you heat or cool with it, and to what degree?

Without any kind of information, what you have doesn't really even qualify as an "idea". You might as well have asked Tesla to use magic pixies.

RedShift | 7 maj 2016

Just tell me one thing: since this obviously doesnt generate electricity, I will still need to power my electricals with another source.

I will pass.

chohans | 7 maj 2016

Upgrading the electric motors to steam engines would definitely be the way to go.

Benefits? There are so many. Imagine steam cleaning your suit just before you get to that very important boardroom meeting. Or how about releasing some steam to calm the nerves a bit. Melt that ice on icy winter roads and forget about the winter tires. Want a sauna? Just put the air recirculation on and close all windows. Steam cook your food while travelling home from work. Keep your coffee hot with steam heated cup holders. Endless!

Watt fun | 7 maj 2016

There is nothing 'magical' about thermal storage.

Actually, our local city-owned electrical utility does this now. Summerside, PE has a population of roughly 18,000, and they put up four 3 megawatt Vestas back in 2009, which provides up to 100% of the city infrastructure/population electrical supply. Some years ago they started installing German-style ceramic block heat accumulation storage units in peoples' houses, and guaranteeing a low overnight rate to heat the blocks using unused turbine electricity. One overnight can heat a home for several days. Payback is in a few years time, compared to oil heat. (we have no natural gas) With programs like this, they got their 'integration rate' on their turbines up to over 47% as of two years ago, which is a North American high.

I also use thermal storage on my home, in the form of solar hot water (glycol mix filled) panels via a heat exchangers. One sunny day even in midwinter and I have hot water (laundry, dishwasher, showers) for 2-3 days)