SEFE, Inc. (SEFE) and Additional Energy Storage

An earlier article talked about creative ways that excess electrical energy could be stored for future use, such as flow batteries and flywheels. Flow batteries, unlike regular chemical batteries, store and process the chemicals needed for battery operation separately from the battery itself, greatly enhancing durability and operational properties. Flywheel technology, on the other hand, holds energy in the form of mechanical motion, using spinning flywheels maintained in a vacuum and virtually frictionless environment.

But there are other ways scientists have devised for storing electrical energy, as highlighted on SEFE’s website showcasing developments in renewable energy.

Compressed Air – Although the use of compressed air energy storage (CAES) has been around for years, new technologies have made it more efficient. When air is compressed, part of the energy tends to be dissipated within the air as heat, the random motion of gas molecules. As with any conversion, recapturing useful directed motion energy from heated air involves some energy loss, and also makes it difficult to store additional compressed air. The use of isothermal compression (ICAES), which avoids the high temperatures and thermal losses, may be less costly and more efficient than standard CAES, but it is still under development. Compressed air bags, held under deep water to contain the high pressures, offer potential for off-shore energy storage, though that too is still undergoing development.

Gravel Batteries – One of the newest ways of storing energy, gravel batteries are similar in some ways to gas compression storage. Instead of using giant mechanical containers, the system uses a type of heat pump, where argon gas is pumped through tanks of gravel, alternately contracting and expanding, heating and cooling, storing energy as heat in the gravel. Reversing the pump extracts the stored energy. The gravel is relatively effective at storing energy in this form for a fairly long time, even over the course of months, and requires less space than many systems. Hydro-pump energy storage, for example, where water is pumped into raised reservoirs, is fairly efficient, but requires a large dedicated space.

Any form of energy storage has its own strengths and weaknesses, with advantages or disadvantages for certain applications. Some approaches are more expensive, but offer very fast recovery for applications needing immediate response. Others are slow, but economical. Some can be located anywhere, while others are limited. It’s never just a question of cost per unit energy.

SEFE, developer of a revolutionary technology that is able to capture usable electricity directly from the earth’s atmosphere, could make use of virtually any of these storage systems for excess energy storage. The SEFE system, called Harmony, is flexible enough to be installed in any location and requires a very small footprint. It can operate day or night, in any weather conditions, as a stand-alone or hooked to the grid. It involves pure electricity from the air, with no major conversions. As a result, it can fit many applications, and can integrate easily with many storage technologies.

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