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Google's Parent Company Looks to Salt for Renewable Energy

04 Aug 14:00 by Steve Walia

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Google is a brand synonymous with innovation, and now its parent company Alphabet is seeking to develop a salt-based energy storage system.

The project is called Malta, and Alphabet has developed a system which comprises four cylinders - two salt-filled and two filled with anti-freeze. The system works by drawing energy inside and then transforming it into hot and cold air. Hot air is used to then heat up the salt cylinders and the cold air passes over the antifreeze to chill it. Energy is recovered by reversing the process. This causes the cold and hot air to collide, creating strong winds that spin a wind turbine and create power again. The system is able to then store the resulting energy for several days thanks to its advanced levels of insulation.

Once the system has been finalised, it could help to save millions of energy MW that are otherwise lost across the world every year. Energy storage is perhaps now the most pressing renewable energy development field, with waste a signifiant problem.

If it is successfully developed, the new system could be used anywhere. It resembles a small power plant and connects a heat pump to each of the four tanks. The creators say that the system would be available in a range of sizes - with the smallest being a similar size to a domestic garage and the largest resembling a more typical power plant.

Alphabet says that the new system will have the ability to offer longer energy storage than lithium-ion battery storage systems. It expects its cutting-edge approach to compete keenly with other existing methods of clean energy storage.

The team of ten researchers building the Malta system are now seeking commercial partners to create a grid-linked prototype.