Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Ideas to Toss: Energy Storage FAT?

Posted on: September 9, 2008

It’s quite possible that I am just plain simply crazy, but if you bear with me and try to understand how my brain and thought process works, I think there is most certainly an idea here.

Energy is a Pressing Matter and Hot Topic in all Circles, but I think the basis of our problem isnt focused on.

Energy is a Pressing Matter and Hot Topic in all Circles, but I think the basis of our problem isnt focused on.

So I was sitting through a Sustainability Conference in IIT Madras today and there was one talk on Energy Consumption. The talk essentially mentioned how we ascertain energy demands by our peak hours. The problem being we need that at the most, and at times when its not the peak, we have to “shed” the load, and it usually ends up being dumped into the grid, and thanks to our grids not being designed properly, it usually ends up overloading half of rural India. That’s a different story all together.

The hint was in a passing by comment that the problem with energy is that it has to be consumed as and when its produced. There is simply no way to store it. If you want to store it in batteries and such, its simply not viable for large quantities, since its very expensive.

I have no idea what happened for the rest of the talk, apart for when he showed graphs and numbers – which always catches my attention, but he also mentioned that they were not accurate, which made me go “bleh” and back to my thinking process.

The Idea:

So Energy. The basis is that all energy is created from one form or the other. So Lets accept that we cant break this rule and make newton roll over in his grave. Knowing limitations are a plus point.

Lets learn a little bit of inspiration from biology. We take food, we break it down into amino acids, the smallest and easily metabolic form of food, and then the system burns it into energy as per the demands of the body. Compare it with however it is that we create energy, saying that one form of energy – coal or whatever is converted into energy which is converted into electricity which is probably the simplest form of energy.

If you look at biology, the food that is intaken, if the broken down food is more than the “demand” of the system, then the system quickly converts them into FAT and stores them all around the body – which is what provides all those funky love handles that people put so much energy to get rid of. But quite strictly speaking, its just the systems way of saying that we are consuming more than we need, and it is storing it away for a rainy day. The first signs of starvation and thats the storage unit that the system starts feeding off of.

Whats the FAT version of electricity? That’s the question.

Now, I am thinking that there is a possibility here that one cannot go directly from coal into  free flowing electrons. And we are probably missing a middle step that might help us with efficiency.

Secondly, there must be a way to join these electrons to become something that is more passive and with a trigger break them down into simpler free flowing electrons again.

And you know what? If that is possible… you and I would never have to wait for ages for our phones or ipods t get charged. We can technically dump these “FAT” into our devices, and let the device trigger these substance into electrons so that we get a full charge. But the deal is that, just like it doesnt take the body more than a few enzymes to break down FAT back into Amino acids and use them, we have to have these in a form that the devices themselves can transform without elaborate machinery – aka. combustion chambers and engines.

I think it should be possible. These are days when I wish I was a physicist and a chemist put together. But if, and I think it can be, it is possible, then technically we should be able to catch “energy” as and when it happens – from the lightnings, to tornadoes, to cyclones, save up all the energy and use it for when we need it. We can harvest all of the Sunlight hitting the earth and probably setup plants that can fight some of the global warming, and probably use energy in a way that is not as harmful to the planet as our current barbaric ways are.

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7 Responses to "Ideas to Toss: Energy Storage FAT?"

I really liked some of the ideas put forward by Juan Enriquez in his talk about “growing energy”.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/juan_enriquez_wants_to_grow_energy.html

I’m definitely going to take a look at that video Shreyas. Thanks.

hey check out this startup ….. its working on similar ideas ….. http://www.deeyaenergy.com

Isn’t a battery system the simple equivalent of FAT? It might be interesting to note that people have even been using things like water pumped to a reservoir to do this. Do check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_energy_storage.

@Anupam you are right, battery system is something thats equivalent to FAT. It works much faster, but may be less efficient.
@Vijay There is already a technology that answer this question.It existed since a long time. CAPACITORS !!! Currently Super capacitors are trying to do the same. It will be much more efficient with no chemistry involved. I guess we will have to wait a little longer before a break through happens and they replace our batteries.

Anupam. But Motors are highly inefficient and I think the current efficiency ratio is less than 30% and that’d waste a lot of power to create more “stored” energy.

Anil: I think thats quite interesting. Hmm. Super Capacitors eh?

@Amrita: Checked out that company. From their site “ESP 6000 can be charged quickly: a four-hour back-up system takes only three hours to recharge”.

Three hours to charge isnt really “quick”. :)

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