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  •  yep (0+ / 0-)

    The super-capacitor is the missing link.  They have been working on them a few miles from here, for vehicular applications, because they weigh a lot less than lead-acid batteries, AND are almost 4 times more efficient than lead-acid.

    The only problem is making the transition from a lab item, ti a manufacturable item.  When a super capacitor fails while storing power, the entire thing turns into lava...  It just melts, and since it is ceramic and metal, that melt is pretty warm.

    20 years ago the super-storage system we were seeing promise with was the flywheel.  A company related to ours through it's VC funding source was developing small flywheel systems that could store several hundred kiilowatt hours of energy in one small flywheel the size of a PC, many many many times more energy than can be stored in a battery, and with twice the efficiency of the battery.  At the time I was under pressure from the VC company to switch my research from using battery to using flywheel...  But then it became known what the failure mode of the flywheels is...  A flywheel can store so much energy that it flys apart explosively, and destroys everything it it's vicinity...  So the flywheel systems must be burried in underground concrete bomb-proof bunkers, but only one flywheel per bunker, so massive power storage isn't overly practical that way...

    High temperature superconducting super capacitors are a possible nearly perfect storage system....  But any time you store energy, you must be able to withstand the potential damage of a failure in your storage system.

    Lead Acid batteries can explode or catch fire too, but they store so much less power, and it is stored chemically so it isn't free energy, so they tend to be a lot safer than any super-storage system tested so far.  If you can sequester energy chemically, or physically (as in lifting a weight on a chain) you have a far less volatile storage system, as compared to capacitors or flywheels.  

    The energy storage system I have not seen explored much is lifting weight.  I saw an application where water was pumped up hill to store energy, and allowed to drive a turbine to release the energy, and in that system the efficiency was far lower than battery due to friction.  Hundreds of years ago the first power storage system was created for clocks... The original clock "battery" was a weight on a chain, and later it was a wound spring.  The weight on a chain was very efficient, but it was not overly practical for large energy storage.

    But you are right, the only thing I would add is the word "efficient".  It has to be inexpensive AND efficient.

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