I’m not a dooms day believer. I don’t think the Mayan’s have it right and the world is coming to an end in 2012, when the Mayan calendar comes to a close, but I have to say based on the environmental disasters of the last 12 months it really makes you wonder if as a species we are trying to kill ourselves.
First we have BP’s Gulf Oil disaster which was probably far worse than we have been led to believe. Now we have the nuclear meltdown in Japan which is going to a hell of a lot worse than any of us can imagine. As I write this, both Gizmodo and ABC News are reporting that radioactive plutonium has been found outside reactor number 3 in contaminated soil, and 3 large steam tunnels are on the verge of over flowing and spilling large amounts of highly toxic radioactive water into the ocean which is a mere 180 feet away.
You would think that by this point in time, we would have found a way to produce clean non toxic renewable energy sources. I mean think about it, in 1969 we landed a man on the moon with a computer that has about the same horsepower as a Texas Instruments Scientific Calculator does. What is happening is just stupid, and based on greed. It’s all about big energy making more money at the expense of the world and people around them. The only thing is, if they kill off the environment and the people, they kill off their profit source. You think they would wake up, smell the coffee and innovate. Imagine if all the oil companies invested billions in researching new clean energy sources, instead of places to drill for oil, or ways to get it out of the ground. If they had spent the last 30 or 40 years doing that, maybe we could have avoided the Exxon Valdez, The Gulf Spill, and the countless other oil related disasters that never made the evening news.
The same thing is applicable to the nuclear industry. There hasn’t been a whole lot of innovation when it comes to that industry over the last 30 years either. Actually, there might have been and I am just unaware of what has been taking place. The reactor in Japan is an older style reactor, built with last years technology, and obviously not designed to withstand an earthquake and a tsunami.
So what do we do, especially since renewable energy sources like wind and solar only work at full efficiency when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.
Highview Power Storage might have a solution to help get us one step closer to a clean, renewable energy sources, thanks to their CryoEnergy System also known as CES.
CES takes excess energy that is generated by another source and uses it to run refrigeration units which super cool air to a temperature of -196C (-320.8F), at which point the air liquefies. The liquid air, which is known as cryogen, is then stored in insulated tanks, and at times of peak energy demand, when the output of existing energy sources can’t meet the demands of our power grid, the liquid air in a controlled release is used to generate energy.
Being able to solve the storage problem will be a huge leap forward for emission free power on a global scale. The way Highveiw’s CryoEnergy Storage system works is by storing and releasing the liquid air, as air is released the liquid boils, regasifies and expands by up to 700% when heated above -196C, This means that even at room temperature you can superheat it. At this point mega-high-pressured gas is then used to spin turbines which generate electric power.
So what is the by-product of the CES system? Cold Air. And what about the efficieny of the CES system? When the liquid air, the cryogen is exposed to ambient air temperatures, it returns about 50% of the energy used to create it. When the amount of stored liquid air is increased, the intensity of the regasification increases exponentially resulting in up to 70% efficiency. The CES process is perfect for facilities that generate large volumes of waste heat, which could boost the overall efficiency of CES. In additional, the by-product from CES could be used in practical applications like refrigeration, air conditioning, or even the production of more liquid air which increases the efficiency of the whole process.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it sure as hell beats what we have going on now.