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Sand to store solar power

 

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Masdar Institute

Abu Dhabi project uses sand to store solar power

by Ali Audi

Speed read

  • Sand can store solar heat of up to about 1000° Celsius
  • A pilot project improves the efficiency of solar power plants and reduces costs
  • But more investment is needed to bring the technology to market.

Researchers in Abu Dhabi are testing a pilot device that can store solarenergy in sand to improve the efficiency of power plants and provide energy at night.

The technology, developed at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, uses gravity to drain sand from a higher basin into a lower one, heating up the sand grains with solar power during the transition. In the lower basin, the energy can be stored and withdrawn at low cost to provide extra energy if needed, for example during peak hours and at night-time.

“Two pilot models of the system have been tested in an effort to prove its efficiency and applicability on a large scale in big projects,” says Nicolas Calvet, an assistant professor at the Masdar institute’s department of mechanical engineering.

The next step is to test a more sophisticated model in preparation for its commercial marketing, Calvel says.

Read the full story: SciDevNet

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.