Concept Illustration Transcript
- Relatively Cheap
- Environmentally Lovely
- Stores Energy Indefinitely
- Stores Large Amounts of Energy
- Maximum Output Regardless of Charge Level
- Available Instantly
- Maintenance Free
- 100% Safe
- Small Space & Landscape Footprint
Solar energy is free and plentiful everywhere on the planet, the only problem is that it's only available half of the day, and for that part of the day, most people are usually away from home, at work or at school, thus, at times where solar panels produce the most energy, there's nobody around to use it. In order to put solar energy to good use, we need an efficient way of storing it, however batteries are expensive, toxic, have limited life spans, they drain over time... they are pretty much useless when it comes to storing large amounts of surplus energy for medium to long periods of time.
Meet the gravity battery! Using the principle of exploiting the force of gravity, it is in theory possible to store vast amounts of surplus energy, relatively cheap, environmentally friendly, maintenance free, totally safe and without disrupting landscape or taking up horizontal space. The concept of exploiting the force of gravity has been around for centuries in the form of the pendulum clock, which stores the energy that a person puts into the system and then distributes it slowly over a long period of time. The gravity battery acts in a similar way, it stores the surplus energy obtained from solar panels during long periods of time, and then delivers it whenever it is needed. It is literally the best possible way of storing large amounts of energy for an indefinite period of time.
How It Works
There is a series of hollow vertical underground cylindrical tubes, each of them containing a heavy weight which hangs inside the tube attached to a high strength cable.
Above the ground, each wire is spooled up and attached to its own coil. The coils are mounted along a central support axis which carries all the weight. Inside the support axis, there are two transmission axis, one for the charger and one for the generator. Each coil can be switched individually between the two transmission axis, through a gear system.
When energy is in surplus, the distributor routes it to the charger (an electric engine). The charger uses the electric energy it receives to spin its transmission axis, thus spinning all coils attached to that axis, and lifting their weights up to maximum height.
When a weight is at maximum height, its coil will automatically switch from the charger axis to the generator axis.
When energy is needed, the allocator switches off the break on the generator axis, thus causing the coils to unwind and spin the axis, powering the generator and creating electricity.
Using a system of gears, the charger can operate even with low energy input. Using multiple tubes allows the system to both charge up and supply energy at the same time.
This project has been conceived to illustrate the concept of the gravity battery and how it would theoretically work. No actual measurements have been taken, and no tests have been done. This is pure theory and does not come with any guarantees of any kind. Although we'd love to hear from people or companies that have actually tried implementing or testing this idea, if you are planning on doing this yourself, proceed at your own risk.
- A) SOLAR PANEL ARRAY - Captures energy from sunlight during the day.
- B) DISTRIBUTOR - When more energy is produced than it is consumed, or when there is no consumption, the distributor sends surplus energy to the battery charger.
- C) BYPASS LINE - Provides energy directly to the household when needed and is available directly.
- D) ALLOCATOR - Keeps the current energy demands of the household satisfied, by allocating energy from the source and/or from the batteries.
- E) HOUSEHOLD - Uses energy from the solar panels and/or from the gravity battery.
- F) CHARGER - An electric engine used to lift the weights. It is connected to its axis through a gearbox.
- G) GRAVITY BATTERIES - A "battery" consists of its tube, weight, cable and coil. When the weight is up, the battery is considered charged.
Left - This battery is charged up, its weight is at the maximum height and its coil is attached to the generator axis, ready to supply power.
Middle - Those two batteries are currently in use, they are slowly descending, spinning the generator axis and generating electricity. Gravity batteries always provide their max energy output regardless of their charge level.
Right - This battery is uncharged, its weight is at the bottom of the tube. When a weight reaches the bottom, its battery coil is switched from the generator axis to the charger axis so it can be lifted back up (charged).
- H) GENERATOR & CPU - The generator axis gets spinned by all the battery coils that are connected to it.
The coils switch from one axis to another based on the charge level of each battery, charged batteries are connected to the generator axis, and uncharged batteries are connected to the charger axis.
The whole process is controlled by a computer (CPU) that constantly keeps track of energy production, energy demand, individual battery charge level, and generator output. Balancing all these factors, the computer controls the distributor and the allocator in order to make sure the energy demand is met at all times, while storing any surplus energy into the batteries for later use.
When all batteries are empty and there is no available power from the solar array, the allocator just taps into the power grid.