Energy Vault, a Switzerland-based startup company recently received a big boost of funding to bring their low tech, almost obscure energy storage solution into reality.
For a common battery, such as the vastly popular lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, electric energy is stored in the form of ions. The obvious advantages of Li-ion batteries include high charge/discharge efficiency, and high energy density. But lithium mining bears a high economic and environmental cost. Not to mention, Li-ion batteries would eventually lose most of their charge after a certain number of charging cycles.
Energy Vault invented a simple device to store energy, using three almost fool-proof elements: heavy cement blocks, cranes and motors. During "charging", electricity powers their system to pile blocks on top of each to build a tall tower, turning the electric energy into gravitational potential energy. For "discharging", the system lowers the blocks to the ground level, harnessing the kinetic energy from the proess to run its generator. The "vault" is expected to work side by side with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, in order to solve their off-peak electricity storage issues.
Despite its apparent advantages over traditional power storage apparatus, it remains to be seen if this Swiss company can turn their innovative idea into practical solutions for the real world.
Source: Quartz via Youtube