Saturday, 14 October 2017

heat sink

A group of clever researchers have managed to create a pump and containment system out of ceramics—a material capable of withstanding very high temperatures but usually too brittle to take such stresses—that can handle a volume of white hot molten tin and this breakthrough is potentially revolutionary in the arena of renewable energy by allowing solar cells and wind farms the opportunity to off-load its surplus power in times of excess for when its needed.
Storing energy for later use—as sunshine and blustery days are often at cross-purposes and rarer yet correspond to our peak electrical demands—has attracted a raft of creative and novel means for saving power from batteries, to expanding the electrical grid with idle cars as active members, to the potential energy of gravity. All of these are brilliant schemes but a lot is lost in terms of efficiency—which is where the liquid tin (or metal of one’s choice comes in—tin is especially a good candidate because its liquid state lasts over a range of several hundred degrees kelvin before it boils away) because in the exchange of excess energy to keep the metal hot and later withdrawing on that deposit, because of the laws of thermodynamics, very little (relatively) is lost and higher storage temperatures yield higher storage capacity.