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How to build a thermal battery

This article is from The Spark, MIT Technology Review’s weekly climate newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here

The votes have been tallied, and the results are in. The winner of the 11th Breakthrough Technology, 2024 edition, is … drumroll please … thermal batteries!

While the editors of MIT Technology Review choose the annual list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies, in 2022 we started having readers weigh in on an 11th technology. And I don’t mean to flatter you, but I think you picked a fascinating one this year.

Thermal energy storage is a convenient way to stockpile energy for later. This could be crucial in connecting cheap but inconsistent renewable energy with industrial facilities, which often require a constant supply of heat.

I wrote about why this technology is having a moment, and where it might wind up being used, in a story published Monday. For the newsletter this week, let’s take a deeper look at the different kinds of thermal batteries out there, because there’s a wide world of possibilities. 

Step 1: Choose your energy source

In the journey to build a thermal battery, the crucial first step is to choose where your heat comes from. Most of the companies I’ve come across are building some sort of power-to-heat system, meaning electricity goes in and heat comes out. Heat often gets generated by running a current through a resistive material in a process similar to what happens when you turn on a toaster.

Some projects may take electricity directly from sources like wind turbines or solar panels that aren’t hooked up to the grid. That could reduce energy costs, since you don’t have to pay surcharges built into grid electricity rates, explains Jeffrey Rissman, senior director of industry at Energy Innovation, a policy and research firm specializing in energy and climate. 

Otherwise, thermal batteries can be hooked up to the grid directly. These systems could allow a facility to charge up when electricity prices are low or when there’s a lot of renewable energy on the grid.

Some thermal storage systems are soaking up waste heat rather than relying on electricity. Brenmiller Energy, for example, is building thermal batteries that can be charged up with heat or electricity, depending on the customer’s needs.

Depending on the heat source, systems using waste heat may not be able to reach temperatures as high as their electricity-powered counterparts, but they could help increase the efficiency of facilities that would otherwise waste that energy. There’s especially high potential for high-temperature processes, like cement and steel production.

Step 2: Choose your storage material

Next up: pick out a heat storage medium. These materials should probably be inexpensive and able to reach and withstand high temperatures.

Bricks and carbon blocks are popular choices, as they can be packed together and, depending on the material, reach temperatures well over 1,000 °C (1,800 °F). Rondo Energy, Antora Energy, and Electrified Thermal Solutions are among the companies using blocks and bricks to store heat at these high temperatures.

Crushed-up rocks are another option, and the storage medium of choice for Brenmiller Energy. Caldera is using a mixture of aluminum and crushed rock.

Molten materials can offer even more options for delivering thermal energy later, since they can be pumped around (though this can also add more complexity to the system). Malta is building thermal storage systems that use molten salt, and companies like Fourth Power are using systems that rely in part on molten metals.

Step 3: Choose your delivery method

Last, and perhaps most important, is deciding how to get energy back out of your storage system. Generally, thermal storage systems can deliver heat, use it to generate electricity, or go with some combination of the two.

Delivering heat is the most straightforward option. Typically, air or another gas gets blown over the hot thermal storage material, and that heated gas can be used to warm up equipment or to generate steam.

Some companies are working to use heat storage to deliver electricity instead. This could allow thermal storage systems to play a role not only in industry but potentially on the electrical grid as an electricity storage solution. One downside? These systems generally take a hit on efficiency, the amount of energy that can be returned from storage. But they may be right for some situations, such as facilities that need both heat and electricity on demand. Antora Energy is aiming to use thermophotovoltaic materials to turn heat stored in its carbon blocks back into electricity.

Some companies plan to offer a middle path, delivering a combination of heat and electricity, depending on what a facility needs. Rondo

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By: Casey Crownhart
Title: How to build a thermal battery
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Published Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2024 10:00:00 +0000

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Wild Rover – 1966 Rover P6

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Photo: Pete Austin
Photo: Pete AustinMaking its debut in 1963, the Rover P6 was introduced as the new jewel in the crown of the Rover fleet. The car was voted European Car of the Year in 1964 and it revelled in the glow of Britain’s last true motor manufacturing era. By the time the P6 reached the end of its shelf life in 1977, Britain’s motor car industry was in a spiral of decline from which it would never recover.

 “a bit of an animal” around Silverstone
Author enjoyed taking the car he referred to as “a bit of an animal” around Silverstone, revelling in its responsiveness as he applied its ample power.
Photo: Pete AustinThe Rover P6 in its road-going 2-liter, 2.2-liter or mighty 3.5-liter specification was popular. Built at Solihull in the British West Midlands, the Rover was very much the executive’s car of the era. Used by company managers and by the police as a “Panda” car, the Rover was a car of style and only a Jaguar parked on your driveway allowed the man of middle England to feel he enjoyed a higher social standing.

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The post Wild Rover – 1966 Rover P6 appeared first on Sports Car Digest.

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By: SportsCarDigest
Title: Wild Rover – 1966 Rover P6
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Published Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2024 06:59:32 +0000

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Baller Awards

‘It wasn’t worth it’: Why Tom Selleck took a three-year break at the peak of his career

Tom Selleck has made a name for himself in Hollywood with an impressive CV to boot, known for his roles in Magnum PI, Blue Bloods and Friends.

Despite becoming a household name, Selleck has learned that family always comes first.

While his career was thriving, starring as the lead for Magnum PI, Selleck made the sudden decision to take a break from acting.

READ MORE: How Tom Selleck’s 50-year career started ‘accidentally’

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The decision came out of Selleck’s desire to step back from the Hollywood lifestyle.

“I quit Magnum, not because I didn’t like it or I was tired of it,” Selleck told People magazine.

“I was tired from it, And I wanted a three-dimensional life because I didn’t have one.”

Selleck has since revealed that the decision came after his daughter, Hannah, was hospitalised with viral pneumonia, People reports. 

“I got off that train,” he told People in a recent interview as he promotes his upcoming memoir.

READ MORE: Meghan’s selling her own jam – but she’s not the first royal to do so

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 09:  Actor Tom Selleck (C) with wife Jillie Mack (R) and daughter Hannah (L) arrive at the 31st Annual People's Choice Awards held in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on January 9, 2005 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

The star had, at the time, signed on to star in the 1992 film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. He committed to the film but missed a lot of the preparation while his daughter was receiving treatment. 

“I had agreed to do the picture because Marlon Brando was in it,” Selleck told People. 

“I missed all the rehearsal and everything. We got Hannah home, and then I went, but I didn’t like that.”

After the film, despite having the opportunity to work with Brando, Selleck says “it wasn’t worth it”.

READ MORE: The best way to see Hawaii is on a cruise

Tom Selleck and Jillie Mack attend CBS' "The Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special" at CBS Televison City on October 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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“It was never going to be worth it,” Selleck told People.

“And I said, this is crazy. I quit Magnum really, to have a family, and now I’m jumping at every movie that comes along.” 

This realisation sparked a self-imposed three year hiatus for the star in which time he prioritised time with family.

Reflecting on the time off with People in 2020, Selleck said that he “put up” with reporting that he had “disappeared” and that ultimately the “big lull” in his career helped the star “put a lot of things in perspective”.

Today the actor is balancing time with family with his work on the police series Blue Bloods.

He is living with his wife, Jillie, on their ranch in Ventura, California.

“I’ve always treasured the balance between work and time with my family. It’s always about them,” he told People.

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Title: ‘It wasn’t worth it’: Why Tom Selleck took a three-year break at the peak of his career
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Published Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2024 04:04:00 GMT

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