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Largest Sodium Sulfur Battery Powers a Texas Town

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the where-were-you-when-the-lights-went-out dept.

Power 301

separsons writes "The largest sodium sulfur battery in America, nicknamed 'BOB,' can provide enough electricity to power all of Presidio, Texas. Until now, the small town relied on a single 60-year-old transmission line to connect it to the grid, so the community frequently experienced power outages. BOB, which stands for 'Big-Old Battery,' began charging earlier this week. The house-sized battery can deliver four megawatts of power for up to eight hours. Utilities are looking into similar batteries to store power from solar and wind so that renewables can come online before the country implements a smart grid system."

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301 comments

That Stinks. (-1, Troll)

lemur3 (997863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758348)

Not surprising it powers a town in Texas....

Re:That Stinks. (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758428)

Bob is reminiscent of TIM's power solutions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incredible_Machine [wikipedia.org]

Talk about shooting the rope that's tied to a balloon that hits the hamster cage, that turns the treadmill, that throws the basketball onto the lightswitch to turn on the light!!!

Re:That Stinks. (2, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758562)

Talk about shooting the rope that's tied to a balloon that hits the hamster cage, that turns the treadmill, that throws the basketball onto the lightswitch to turn on the light!!!

In Dwarf Fortress, you turn the switch, that opens the door, that lets the goblin in, who steps in the pressure plate, that connects the windmill, that pumps the magma, that runs under the water, that evaporates, passes through the grates, incinerates the goblin, who releases the pressure plate, closes the door and resets the trap.

Or that's what the engineer described before flooding half the fortress and turning the other half into a convoluted basalt sculpture.

from the article (4, Informative)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758372)

the battery would cost 25M, while a second transmission line would cost 60M. o_O

Re:from the article (3, Interesting)

HalifaxRage (640242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758414)

Reminds me of the boom in wireless ISPs... telco claims prohibitive costs to lay new copper or fiber to a neighbourhood, instead a WISP comes along and at a cost of a few thousand dollars puts up an AP and we're off.

Re:from the article (2, Interesting)

Snowblindeye (1085701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758422)

the battery would cost 25M, while a second transmission line would cost 60M. o_O

But they are building both!. The second transmission line will be done by 2012.

Re:from the article (3, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758966)

I wonder what a diesel generator would cost them? Reportedly many communities in Alaska are serviced by power generated by massive diesel generators. 4mw is what a data center consumes, right?

Re:from the article (5, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759120)

Reportedly many communities in Alaska are serviced by power generated by massive diesel generators.

Well of course they are. Diesel is the default conservative power source for remote communities in Australia but photovoltaics are moving in. Solar power may not work as well in Alaska but wind power may do the job instead. Combine that with a BoB and you have a good reliable power supply.

Game of telephone (5, Informative)

Rufus211 (221883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758472)

It's amazing the game of telephone that happens when blogs steal news stories from blogs that steal news stories from blogs.

Inhabitat: "Electric Transmission Texas ponied up $25 million to build the battery, and will add $60 million to build a second transmission line by 2012."

PopSci: "Electric Transmission Texas helped put the battery project together for around $25 million. But the utility has also agreed to build a second 60-mile transmission line to Presidio for about $44 million by 2012."

NPR: "The other solution for this town would be to build a second line, and that line would cost somewhere in the range of $40 to $50 million. And so a battery project in the $25 million range looks pretty attractive."

They all agree the battery costs $25mill, 2/3 agree that the 2nd transmission line will be built in 2012, and none of them agree on the price of the 2nd line.

Re:Game of telephone (2, Funny)

alienzed (732782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758552)

How dare they...

Re:Game of telephone (3, Funny)

Mateorabi (108522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758642)

But they all agreed on Purple Monkey Dishwasher.

Re:Game of telephone (5, Informative)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758644)

Not to detract at all from your point, however there's something worth pointing out I learned while listening to NPR.

This particular city has a contract with a Mexican power company, to provide backup power during the all-too frequent times the lone cable to the US power is broken. However 'some time' is required to switch the city from US to the Mexican power grid. The purpose of this battery is to make the switch from US to Mexican power seamless to the end-user. Therefore, 8hrs is plenty of time for the battery power to last.

Perhaps the battery buys the town time in more ways than one. Now the town is less reliant on someone building out that spare US transmission line for awhile longer. And I'm sure that price varies on which year the 2ns US power line is built.

Re:Game of telephone (4, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758656)

They all agree the battery costs $25mill, 2/3 agree that the 2nd transmission line will be built in 2012, and none of them agree on the price of the 2nd line.

You don't work in IT do you? If you did you'd realise that sounds like any typical project plan.

Re:Game of telephone (4, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759430)

Nah, they just used the Vista file copy dialog to calculate the price.

Re:from the article (4, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758534)

...and how much would a gas or diesel powered generator with a 4MW capacity cost? Since the battery consists of rather dangerous chemicals (e.g. pure sodium metal), has a limited life span and has to operate at 350C (ok - that's probably less of an issue in Texas in the summer ;-) it is hard to see any environmental argument for it over a diesel generator once the heating, production and charge/discharge efficiency are factored in.

Re:from the article (1, Interesting)

Rufus211 (221883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758624)

Do you have a reference to the fact that the battery needs to run at 350C? It seems a bit impractical to heat a house-sized building that much, especially when you have lost power.

The main advantage of a battery over a generator is that you can switch power over to it in a matter of seconds. I'm guessing a 4MW generator would take a couple of minutes, maybe 10s of minutes, to spin up to capacity.

Re:from the article (5, Informative)

marvinglenn (195135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758680)

Do you have a reference to the fact that the battery needs to run at 350C?

You could start with Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium-sulfur_battery [wikipedia.org]

It seems a bit impractical to heat a house-sized building that much, especially when you have lost power.

Good insulation, and you don't heat the building, you heat the guts of the battery. Also, the lost energy is likely heating the battery.

I'm guessing a 4MW generator would take a couple of minutes, maybe 10s of minutes, to spin up to capacity.

Not the ones I've seen. (Hospital and nuke reactor backup.)

Re:from the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758700)

Since the battery ... has to operate at 350C

Why, is there a pool of molten lead around it? I think if the temperature is that high, they have bigger fish to fry than an energy shortage.

Re:from the article (5, Interesting)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758754)

Agreed. A 4MW generator is going to run $1-2M, or you could buy one rebuilt for far less. For another million, you could install enough flywheel storage to last you until the generators can be brought online. Double it for added redundancy, and you're still talking 1/3 the upfront cost of the system.

Re:from the article (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758826)

The pilot studies in South Africa show that pebble bed reactors acn abe built for $800 to $1000 per kilowatt. A 4mW reactor could be built for around $4 million and they could completely disconnect themselves from the grid.

Re:from the article (4, Insightful)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758986)

What's the cost of legislation for a nuke plant in the US per mW though? Diesel generators produce the same energy for half the price as nuclear in the kW range, and regulation is slim to none.

Re:from the article (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31759072)

Call me old-fashioned, but I'd go 100% eco with a gerbil in a wheel or a hand crank if the demand doesn't exceed 4mW.

Re:from the article (4, Funny)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759338)

Just go static, stick two metal rods in a lemon.

Re:from the article (3, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759520)

You mean a BOL - Big Old Lemon.

Re:from the article (1)

samson13 (1311981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759504)

The gerbil or hand crank sound's like a good idea.

I was running with the $1000/kW idea. A 4mW reactor would cost .4c but then I thought the telcos would probably be involved at some point and we would be charged 40c blowing the budget and making it way to hard.

Re:from the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31759330)

>What's the cost of legislation for a nuke plant in the US per mW though?

About half a millicent.

Re:from the article (1)

Faffe (915522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759336)

A 4mW reactor could be built for around $4 million

Yeah, but what use is a 4mW reactor for anyone but the South Africans that can get by using less power than a pocket LED flashlight. And at $1,000,000,000 per watt it seems kind of expensive?

Re:from the article (2, Funny)

xero314 (722674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758858)

Now they have to open supply line and contract another energy supplier (diesel is just another way of transporting energy). They already have the power line in place and are all ready contracting with the power supplied. Keeping this Battery charged will actually reduce their per kw cost, as the over all volume will go up. As for environmental, building a pipe line, or trucking in Diesel would have it's own environmental impact. Never mind that you would have to store an explosive material.

Re:from the article (2, Informative)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759150)

Never mind that you would have to store an explosive material.

Not that liquid sodium is that much better, mind you

Hi Bob! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758388)

That will be one nasty smell when Bob lets wind. Not to mention the extent of the environmental damage that will cause. Oh well, at least it's in Texas!

Re:Hi Bob! (1, Redundant)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758474)

Bob? Microsoft Bob, it that you?

WTF? (1, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758400)

I realize your kids may think it's funny to say that your whole town's on acid, but is this really the best solution, or was it just the cheapest. And I assume there was no need for an environmental assessment, as this is Texas...

Re:WTF? (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758666)

You've already been modded troll rightfully, but the byproduct of Na-S batteries is sodium polysulfate, a salt (which yield an alkaline solution under hydrolysis). And sodium doesn't get called an *alkali* metal because of its acidity.

Re:WTF? (0, Troll)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758674)

oops, I mean polysulfide. See, that's perhaps why people think it's acid.

ZOMG SO4 ACID RAIN WE"RE DOOMED

We did something like this in Oklahoma... (1)

idioto (259918) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758416)

with a mechanical bull, some baking soda and a steady stream of beany flagellants.

can't really remember if we used vinegar or not but there was definitely a little foam.

glad other people are catching on...

Four megawatts of power for up to eight hours? (1)

Snowblindeye (1085701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758440)

The house-sized battery can hold four megawatts of power for up to eight hours.

I wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean. Does the battery discharge in 8 hours if you don't use the energy?

The original NPR article http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125561502 [npr.org] leads me to think they are saying that the consumption of the town is 4MW and the battery can feed it for 8 hours, so it holds 32MW (or less, since the 4MW is the peak load).

On an unrelated note, why does the inhabitat article have four links, which all go to the same popsci article? Does the author get paid by the link?

Re:Four megawatts of power for up to eight hours? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758470)

A watt is a unit of power not energy, that'd be 115 gigajoules (or 32 MWh if you're lazy)

Re:Four megawatts of power for up to eight hours? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758482)

I'm lazy. If the demand was less, then it could supply 2 MW's for 16 hours. A megajoule is as useless a measure of something as a millimeter.

Re:Four megawatts of power for up to eight hours? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758690)

Millimetre is very useful to measure your dick. It will be somewhere in the fraction of 1 millimetre.

Re:Four megawatts of power for up to eight hours? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758776)

A megajoule is hardly a useless measure. It would be pretty stupid to, for example, measure the energy stored in this battery as heat energy (relative to the outside temperature at least) in kilowatt-hours. I suppose we could just use calories or BTUs. Or we could just measure them all in Joules and not have to use so many different conversions. Ooh, better idea, let's measure everything in Calories (big C, i.e. kilocalories or "food calories"), including electricity. Better yet, burn a replica of the Library of Congress (preserve the original, please) and measure how much heat is generated. Then we can start measuring everything in LOCs. Those units might be too big to be practical, so we can divide by a thousand and call them milliLOCS, or simply locs (note lower case). Yeah, now there's the way to go. Naturally we'd have to keep updating the measurement as the Library of Congress grows and some standards authority would have to maintain a lookup table. How about the Library of Congress itself as the standards authority and every time something new is added to the Library of Congress, the new measurement is added to a database there, and a new paper copy of the whole database is printed out and added to the Library of Congress, which would require a new measurement, which would be added to the library and trigger a new measurement, which would be added to the library and trigger a new measurement, which would be added to the library and trigger a new measurement, etc.

Alternately, we could define all measurements, energy, power, weight, mass, time, distance etc. in terms of hogsheads and use contexts to know what we're talking about. If it's energy and we want to say how much that giant battery holds, we say it's 4 million hogsheads and know that we're talking about 4 million times the energy released when burning a hogs head equivalent to the head of the standard hog kept in an environment controlled vault in Paris. If it's power, then we say that the giant battery can convert 4 million hogsheads, which is 4 million times the pulling power of the standard hogs head kept in that Paris vault. You know, with the body still connected to the head, harnessed and pulling? If we want to say how much the battery masses, we say it's 4 million hogsheads, with the hogshead in this case clearly meaning the mass of the standard hogs head from that Paris vault. If we want to say how much the battery weighs, on Earth, we say that it's 4 million hogsheads where the hogshead refers to the amount of force applied by the standard Paris hogs head being accelerated at a rate of 8 hogshead(length of a hogs head)/.1 hogsheads(amount of time it takes the standard severed hogs head to die) squared. There, wouldn't that make things simpler?

Energy not Power (4, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758490)

so it holds 32MW

No - it can hold 32MWh (=115.2GJ). Batteries hold energy not power. Since power is energy per unit time you have to multiply it by a time to get energy.

Re:Energy not Power and Batter Life (1)

bezenek (958723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758536)

so it holds 32MW

No - it can hold 32MWh (=115.2GJ). Batteries hold energy not power. Since power is energy per unit time you have to multiply it by a time to get energy.

Thank you, 007, for clearing up this little misunderstanding.

I wonder how long this battery will last and what the cost of a refurbishment is. Also, how does the lifetime change with more dischare/charge cycles? I think these numbers are as important as the initial cost, but usually do not get mentioned.

A $25M batter which lasts 50 years sounds like a pretty nice piece of technology if it can be discharged/charged daily. If it lasts 5 years and has a 100% refurbishment cost, it does not sound so great.

Todd

Re:Energy not Power and Batter Life (5, Informative)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758710)

They can last about 2,500 complete cycles or 4,800 80% discharge cycles. (From the wikipedia article linked elsewhere). Presuming a power outage once a week requiring 80% discharge, it would last about 90 years, if the number of cycles is the only thing determining its longevity.

Re:Energy not Power and Batter Life (4, Insightful)

bezenek (958723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758732)

They can last about 2,500 complete cycles or 4,800 80% discharge cycles. (From the wikipedia article linked elsewhere). Presuming a power outage once a week requiring 80% discharge, it would last about 90 years, if the number of cycles is the only thing determining its longevity.

That is 10-15 years when used as a night-time backup for solar collection.

This might be useful.

-Todd

Re:Energy not Power and Batter Life (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758938)

This battery should be able to last a very, very long time without losing significant capacity. It's also a big enough battery that it can be refurbished rather than just being tossed when it's used up.

Re:Energy not Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31759512)

but there is probably a limit how fast the battery can provide energy and that is in MW
that's also important

Re:Four megawatts of power for up to eight hours? (1)

kainino (1042936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758496)

It is badly worded, but I am pretty sure it means that it can hold 32 MWh (megawatt-hours). That is a unit of energy, whereas watts are a unit of power (energy per unit time).

In SI, if unconventional, units, the battery holds 115.2 gigajoules [google.com] .

Re:Four megawatts of power for up to eight hours? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31759202)

MWh is a perfectly cromulent (i.e. SI based) unit of energy: 1 million times watt times 3600 seconds equals 3.6*10^9 Ws equals 3.6 GJ.

32 Megawatt/hours (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758520)

I wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean. Does the battery discharge in 8 hours if you don't use the energy?

That is extremely unlikely- that's a LOT of heat.

A Watt is a power unit. A Watt-hour is a energy unit. They most likely meant it is a 32 Megawatt-hour battery.

On an unrelated note, nobody seems to have pictures of the finished thing, or how it was constructed, etc- just one picture of a concrete shell, clearly early in the process. Anyone find more pictures?

Haven't heard about these in years (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758462)

It's been a long time since I last heard about Sodium/Sulphur batteries. Twenty-plus years ago Ford Aerospace in Newport Beach, CA had a small research facility looking at this technology. The smell of sulphur was pretty strong around that building which was cleverly situated both downhill and downwind from the rest of the campus. The idea of being anywhere in the neighborhood of a bunch of hot,liquid sodium and a bunch of hot,liquid sulphur somehow never seemed like a good idea to me.

Re:Haven't heard about these in years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758612)

4 of july will be entertaining

Re:Haven't heard about these in years (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759258)

That sure is a nasty battery [wikipedia.org] .

Leaky battery (5, Informative)

iliketrash (624051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758538)

"The house-sized battery can hold four megawatts of power for up to eight hours."

"Power" is not "held." Power is delivered. Energy is held. The unit of energy is joule.

Re:Leaky battery (1)

spidr_mnky (1236668) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758582)

Eh. They got the time in the sentence, at least. I did a double take at the line, but I'm willing to assume it means holding that level of output, not holding statically.

Re:Leaky battery (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758716)

Yeah. It delivers 4MW, it takes 8 hours to charge and 8 hours to discharge.

Re:Leaky battery (1)

BrokenCube (896491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759078)

So, should have been: "The house-size battery can supply four megawatts of power for up to eight hours."

Also, where did the 8 hour charge figure come from?

Re:Leaky battery (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759124)

Same critique. Maybe it holds four megawatt-hours of power, but holding four megawatts is meaningless.

NPR Link (5, Informative)

VTI9600 (1143169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758572)

This story originally came from an NPR interview. Here is a link [npr.org] .

Re:NPR Link (1)

jshameyer54 (1784806) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758854)

yeah! I've already read this news as well

BOBs are probably safer underground (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758578)

Should the device explode, given the amount of energy stored inside the battery and the kind of chemicals employed in the facility, it could level out the surroundings. Furthermore keeping it underground should make easier to cool the device while charging.

Re:BOBs are probably safer underground (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758676)

You should add security concerns to this. My spider sense indicates that for various bad reasons the authorities in charge will be a lot less security conscious than if they had stuck a bloody big silo of petrol in the middle of the town.

Re:BOBs are probably safer underground (2, Informative)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758924)

It runs on molten sodium. Cool is the one thing you don't ever want the battery to get.

Re:BOBs are probably safer underground (3, Funny)

zwarte piet (1023413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759082)

Wet being the other

This via that via the other site (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758594)

Seriously, guys, are you that desperate for views?
The article linked to in the summary got the article from PopSci [popsci.com] , who got it from NPR [npr.org] .

That aside... They should probably just stick a little reactor nearby to power their community and other nearby communities. Maybe even sell some power to Mexico.
I'm sure they've got enough wasteland that you could build one on without causing too much damage to human settlements in the region (which is all the NIMBYists care about).

BUB (3, Interesting)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758598)

BUB might be a better nickname. Big Unexploded Battery.

I'm sure it's safely enclosed and all the safety aspects have been taken into account, but it will be an impressive boom when it does go off, assuming the size of the boom goes up proportionally with the size of the battery (I had a tiny watch battery blow my little remote control car apart...)

Re:BUB (1)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758692)

A buddy of mine who is in the electrical contractors union tells a tale of what went wrong once. You know those huge ( I think they're called) step-down transformers? Someone was briefly working amongst, walking across, (am unclear precisely on this) and this unfornate person dropped a wrench, which caused the current to arc, in a Big Way. This person became One with a Big Mass of Metal. You'd think this wouldn't happen, but apparently things go wrong sometimes.

Re:BUB (2, Interesting)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759218)

Reminds me a bit of a story I heard once from one of my teachers.

There are some small power control stations around, and this was about one of those. This particular one was high up in a mountain, and a capacitor was in need of change. Size a bit smaller than a garage.

So a person put the new capacitor in his backpack (yep, one of the rather big ones..), got up there (took a few hours), cut the power, removed the old one and popped in the new one. Put on the power, everything looked ok and he went back down.

When he got back down, the central had tried reaching him for a while, because they'd lost contact with it. So up again he went, and when he got up there, the power station was gone. There was some wood splinters here and there, and some twisted metal, maybe enough to fill a bag. But the station was gone.

Re:BUB (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758770)

... it will be an impressive boom when it does go off, assuming the size of the boom goes up proportionally with the size of the battery ...

So how many exploding iPod/Laptop batteries is this critter, which uses molten sodium. Did your high school chemistry ever do the "this is sodium; this is water; this is sodium in water" trick?

Good thing that it doesn't rain much in Texas.

But I guess that the folks building the battery will know about the dangers, and take appropriate safety measures. Like, getting their asses out of town when the puppy goes online.

Does some poor soul have to do the "lick the connectors on the 9 volt battery" test, to see if it's fully charged?

That job would really suck.

Re:BUB (1)

smashin234 (555465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758898)

you can kill yourself on 9 volts believe it or not, its not the voltage, but the amperage which does the damage.

voltage is often higher in higher amperage delivery systems, and therefore that is why this confusion generally exists. I know you aren't saying otherwise, but shrug, it can't be said enough in my opinion.

If someone did "lick the connectors" on this baby when it was fully charged, well use your imagination, but it could very well just shock them to the ground, but that is the best case scenario. As a rule, its a very bad idea to complete a circuit on batteries larger then D's. Your laptop battery will probably just shock you badly, or maybe just make you twitch and let go (I am just guessing because I wouldn't try it...)....the car battery...well we all know how that can kill people and how it does indeed kill a number of people every year.

Sodium and water true, but that would require the battery to shed its compartment or no longer be sealed, which more then likely would happen on the inside and would release all the energy at once, which to me would probably cause more problems then water getting in there...

Re:BUB (1)

zwarte piet (1023413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759132)

To get enough current throught your body to kill yourself with 9 volts you'd have to lower the internal electrical resistance of your body an order of magnitude. I wouldn't know how to do that. Maybe it would work for baby's.

That's a great price! (2, Interesting)

msevior (145103) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758632)

This thing cost 25 million to make and apparently stores 192000 KWHr of energy. That is $130/KWHr. On average my home uses 17 KWHr/day so I can store my average needs for only $2210.00.

Thats a small additional cost on the 6 KW of Peak Power worth of PV's I need to provide the 17 KWHr for my house.

Does this thing scale down?
 

Re:That's a great price! (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758728)

they make natural gas powered generators that are capable of powering your house when the power goes out.

Re:That's a great price! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31759142)

Unfortunately solar cells don't produce natural gas.

Re:That's a great price! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758808)

With a 350 degree C operating temperature, it's unlikely to scale down. Without sufficient mass and the advantage of the square-cube ratio to allow a sane amount of insulation to contain all that heat, the home version would surely take a bucketload more power to stay warm.

Re:That's a great price! (5, Informative)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758816)

No, Sodium-sulphur batteries scale down horribly. They need to run hot enough for the sulphur to be molten*, and keeping large things hot is easier than keeping small things hot, as the thermal energy scale with the cube of the size, but the escaped heat scales with the square. I don't know how small they can get, though.

*According to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , they need to run even hotter, 300-350 degree celsius

Re:That's a great price! (1)

tpwch (748980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759128)

Thats not entirely accurate since it can be charged and discharged multiple times. Apperantly thousands of times according to a comment earlier. So the price in your example goes down by a few factors.

Re:That's a great price! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31759414)

Not sure where Msevior got the 192000kWh from. The battery is described as delivering 4MW for 8 hours, which is a total of 32MWh, not 192MWh. You however didn't understand what he was trying to calculate: In order to have power 24/7, he has to buffer some of the energy coming from the PV array. He estimated that he'd need storage for the energy usage of one full day to bridge any gaps in his supply, so he needs a battery which holds 17kWh when fully charged. The number of charge cycles doesn't come into this calculation. To get an idea how much 17kWh is, consider this: Lead-acid batteries have an energy density of 30Wh/kg. A big car battery holds about half a kWh (depends on the current draw, temperature, age and how deeply you're willing to discharge the battery).

Re:That's a great price! (1)

OrangeCatholic (1495411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759384)

Here's what you do. Go down to the auto parts store and get yourself a bunch of car batteries. Put them in your basement. Get an alternator and a good switch. Find an electrician who can hook them up to your house. (I'm an electrical engineer so I can't help you. I make less money than an electrician and I also don't know anything about electricity, since an EE degree only covers calculus and some very basic RLC circuits.)

We all know that car batteries last 10-12 years of daily use, so this rig could potentially last you 20 years. Now the question is, what will you use it for? Power outages?

Question: how much energy did it take to make it? (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758648)

Not based on the $25 million sticker price: that's just bullshit accounting. I'd like to know the Joules expended in the extraction, refining, shipping and construction of this thing, including the energy required by the workers, then let's compare that to the energy that it will actually store and deliver over its working life.

Eventually, we are going to have to start asking these questions about "renewable" generation and storage, because you can only hide a net energy loss in the books for so long, until the fossil fuels that subsidise these energy sinks start to run out.

Re:Question: how much energy did it take to make i (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758888)

Why? This seems like a faggoty query.

Re:Question: how much energy did it take to make i (5, Insightful)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759360)

So you're saying instead of smelting metal, making concrete, and paying construction workers to build the battery, it might be more cost effective to pay that same smelting facility, concrete making plant, and construction workers to provide a few hours of power for this town every week or so?

I doubt this project has anything to do with "renewable" but all to do with convenience of not having to lose power for a few hours every few weeks. Sure those few hours may be 10x as expensive as normal, but, eh, you don't have to adjust clocks on all those VCRs every week.

Re:Question: how much energy did it take to make i (1, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759486)

I'm not saying anything, I'm asking a question. It's one which is rarely asked, and almost never answered. You'll note that I discounted (dollar) "cost" right up front - I'm only interested in energy. You'll further note that the article explicitly talks about using BOBs as storage for renewable generation.

If you don't know the answer, you could just say so.

Re:Question: how much energy did it take to make i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31759450)

What makes you think we will "run" out of fuel sources?
We burned tr... we STILL burns trees even now.
Dried grasses and plants, another one.
Fur, fat and skins of animals, another.
A little stone or metal to generate a spark is all you need.

All that will happen will be the poorer, and the less knowledgeable of communities will die out. (with the civil wars and such)

These fires can still generate decent flames required for most of societies needs.
Hell, if it wasn't, we wouldn't even be around using these computers now, neither would the human race for that matter.
Its just the numbers of people that is the concern, and that will naturally balance itself out anyway.

Screw all that "carbon neutral" bullshit, stop buying human-caused warming crap, warming is and always has been natural.
It will continue to happen with or without human intervention, all i can tell you is we probably will end up being the death of this planet by trying to stop processes that have happened from before there was even life on Earth.
Whether it is a huge mirror in space, or bubbling up the oceans to make them reflect more, we will wreck this planet by trying to stop it from doing what it does.
Instead of trying to stop it, we should be preparing for it and a possible (LATE) Ice age in the near future.

Prison-city? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758652)

"presidio" (Spanish) = "prison"
Nice place to live.

The really important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758668)

How long would it power an iPad?

Re:The really important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758850)

approx 164.7 years assuming I didnt screw up the math and the 25 watt hour battery in the ipad lasts 9 hours.

Like they always say... (1)

bmecoli (963615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758714)

Everything is bigger in Texas...

These are available for home use already... (5, Funny)

Col Bat Guano (633857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758724)

Look in any computer shop and you'll see NaS storage systems!

Re:These are available for home use already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31759440)

I hope your jokin. NaS is Network attached storage! Not a battery

Tensile strength and inertia (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758738)

Flywheel energy storage (FES) works by accelerating a rotor (flywheel) to a very high speed and maintaining the energy in the system as rotational energy. When energy is extracted from the system, the flywheel's rotational speed is reduced as a consequence of the principle of conservation of energy; adding energy to the system correspondingly results in an increase in the speed of the flywheel.

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flywheel_energy_storage [wikipedia.org]

Maraging steel, UHMWPE, and carbon fibres are some of the materials with the highest known tensile strength. The higher the tensile strength, the higher the energy density, which is good for mobile applications but perhaps not necessary for a small town.
I suspect a flywheel would also be more reliable and environmentally friendly than most batteries.

Re:Tensile strength and inertia (2, Informative)

OrangeCatholic (1495411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759538)

I found an online calculator and apparently the energy squares with either the diameter OR the speed. The only linear input is mass.

So let's try this: A 100-meter wide flywheel, weighing 10 metric tons, spinning at 1hz, gets you 68 kWh, or double that if you move the mass to the outside (which I presume you would for something that big). Now that's probably light for something so big, so at 100 metric tons you could get up to 1.36 MWh.

This battery has 32 MWh.

You would need to spin it 5 times faster (300rpm) to get that kind of energy. That's frighteningly fast for a ferris wheel. Also it would need some serious electromagnets and one hell of a support structure that's also frictionless.

No matter how you slice it, flywheels are all about linear momentum. They're either big or they're fast and it's hard to both.

What happened to Vanadium Redox? (3, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758846)

I'm curious as to why they used Sodium Sulfur rather than Vanadium Redox.

I'm unaware of any advantages to S.S. except maybe size (which wouldn't particularly matter in a stationary installation. And the Vanadium Redox is already productized for exactly this service.

Maybe too much patent encumberment and the guys with the V.R. patent don't have enough production capacity or are charging too much?

Flywheel (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758848)

Flywheels could also have been used. I'll expect those to pop up next to gas stations as electric cars will replace gas-guzzlers. Easy to store energy slowly over long time and rapid dischagre for rush hours.

More power... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31758890)

More power to them.

Dump (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31758960)

Try doing a Google streetview on that place. God what a dump. It doesn't even seem to have some kind of a city centre, houses are just all over the place, with huge empty pieces in between.

Ob (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759186)

The house-sized battery can hold four megawatts of power for up to eight hours.

Sorry, I don't speak metric. What's that in ampere-parsecs?

Sane units (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759264)

The units in the summary are meaningless and uninteresting to almost everybody, and make science geeks twitchy. I propose several alternatives.

For physicists and engineers:
8 hours = 28800 s
W=PT
=4e6 W * 28800 s
=115.2 GJ

For people who measure energy in electricity bills: 3200 kW h

For people who like impressive comparisons: About 2 M-29 Davy Crocketts [wikipedia.org] .

It keeps going and going (1)

FatherDale (1535743) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759350)

They've put the entire town on a UPS. We need this technology here in India...

One solution... (1)

AlastairLynn (1366585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31759436)

is to use, of all things, water. One keeps two reservoirs, one higher than the other. While one has power, one pumps water from the lower to the higher. When the power cuts out, one generates hydroelectric power by allowing water through from the higher to the lower.
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