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Giant sand battery can store up to a month’s worth of energy for an entire town

Published Mar 17th, 2024 9:02AM EDT
sand like that used in a sand battery
Image: Alexander Ozerov / Adobe

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An entire town in Finland could very well get a lot of its heat from a giant sand battery before too long. The new battery has officially been announced and will be built by Polar Night Energy. It’s a really clever concept that will essentially just be made up of a massive silo filled to the brim with tons of sand or a similar material.

The idea here is to pump excess energy generated during a spike from renewable energy sources and then transfer it into the sand using a heat exchange. The company says that the giant battery is capable of holding the heat in the sand for months without much loss. From there, the heat can be converted back into electricity (though with some loss), or it can just be used to provide heat to homes within the town.

Polar Night says that using the local heating system, the giant sand battery will be able to offload its heat into pipes that carry hot water or steam to houses, buildings, and even swimming pools. It will be tied directly into the heating system of the Pornainen municipality. What’s really impressive about the battery, though, is that it will be able to provide an output power of 1 MW and a capacity of 100 MWH.

wind turbine
Extra energy generated by renewable sources like wind turbines can be turned into heat and stored in sand batteries for months at a time. Image source: GE

Polar Night says that these amounts equate to one week’s worth of heat in Pornainen during the winter or a month’s worth of it during the summer. The battery is expected to be roughly 13 meters (42.7 feet) tall and 15 meters (49.2 feet) wide. That’s a pretty manageable size considering how much electricity it will be able to store for long periods of time without much loss.

Beyond just creating new ways to store energy, the sand battery will also help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated by the local heating system by almost 70 percent. That’s a huge improvement. Unfortunately, sand batteries like this don’t find as much use outside of locations that rely on district heating, like that found in Pornainen.

Polar Night is also taking things a step further by utilizing locally sourced crushed soapstone, which is a byproduct of manufacturing near the new battery’s location. We’ve seen tons of new ideas coming to life in the battery industry, including a gravity battery that could very well store energy forever.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.