Have you caught the sand battery thing doing the rounds at the moment?
A couple of uni students in Finland came up with a brilliantly simple way to store craploads of heat in a really efficient way - pour sand into a big metal tin.
The sand (several tonnes) is heated up using renewable energy. The heat stays trapped in the sand for several months, which can then be used to heat things like homes, offices, swimming pools, etc.
It's effectively a really simple way of catching solar heat in summer, and storing it away for winter - but it does a lot more than that.
The fact that it can hold heat up to 1,000 degrees Celsius means it has a lot of use outside of just heating homes.
Industrial processes currently use gas and coal to achieve extreme temperatures - eg, generating steam requires around 200 degrees, other high temperature processes require in excess of 400 degrees. That doesn't seem like an issue for the sand battery.
Plus because it's such a simple unit, the production, storage, and transportability of it is currently more effective than many, if not all of the industrial alternatives.
The idea is being floated that this technology - literally sand in a box - could potentially displace gas entirely... Just this week I heard an interview with an energy expert in the US who said renewable energy often struggles to generate the level of heat that industry requires - now this thing arrives and that problem has potentially been solved.
Ok, there's a little more to it than sand in a box (not much really!) but how cool is it when a ridiculously simple idea is potentially SO much better than the complex ones.
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