Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘sand’

Photo: Tony Jolliffe/BBC.
Finnish researchers Markku Ylönen and Tommi Eronen, who came up with the sand-battery idea. Don’t these guys look just like the kind of young people you’d expect to tackle something impossible?

The big challenge for renewable energy sources like solar and wind has always been storage. Where is there a battery big enough and powerful enough to store the energy until it’s needed?

Bring on a couple wiz kids who think about daunting problems like global warming and overdependence on Russian gas.

Matt McGrath writes at the BBC, “Finnish researchers have installed the world’s first fully working ‘sand battery,’ which can store green power for months at a time. …

“Using low-grade sand, the device is charged up with heat made from cheap electricity from solar or wind. The sand stores the heat at around 500C (~932 degrees Fahrenheit), which can then warm homes in winter when energy is more expensive.

“Finland gets most of its gas from Russia, so the war in Ukraine has drawn the issue of green power into sharp focus. It has the longest Russian border in the EU and Moscow has now halted gas and electricity supplies in the wake of Finland’s decision to join NATO.

“Concerns over sources of heat and light, especially with the long, cold Finnish winter on the horizon are preoccupying politicians and citizens alike. But in a corner of a small power plant in western Finland stands a new piece of technology that has the potential to ease some of these worries.

“The key element in this device? Around 100 tonnes of builder’s sand, piled high inside a dull grey silo.

“These rough and ready grains may well represent a simple, cost-effective way of storing power for when it’s needed most.

“Because of climate change and now thanks to the rapidly rising price of fossil fuels, there’s a surge of investment in new renewable energy production. But while new solar panels and wind turbines can be quickly added to national grids, these extra sources also present huge challenges.

“The toughest question is about intermittency — how do you keep the lights on when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? …

“The most obvious answer to these problems is large-scale batteries which can store and balance energy demands as the grid becomes greener.

“Right now, most batteries are made with lithium and are expensive with a large, physical footprint, and can only cope with a limited amount of excess power.

“But in the town of Kankaanpää, a team of young Finnish engineers have completed the first commercial installation of a battery made from sand that they believe can solve the storage problem in a low-cost, low impact way.

” ‘Whenever there’s like this high surge of available green electricity, we want to be able to get it into the storage really quickly,’ said Markku Ylönen, one of the two founders of Polar Night Energy who have developed the product.

“The device has been installed in the Vatajankoski power plant, which runs the district heating system for the area.

“Low-cost electricity warms the sand up to 500C by resistive heating (the same process that makes electric fires work). This generates hot air which is circulated in the sand by means of a heat exchanger.

“Sand is a very effective medium for storing heat and loses little over time. The developers say that their device could keep sand at 500C for several months.

“So when energy prices are higher, the battery discharges the hot air which warms water for the district heating system which is then pumped around homes, offices and even the local swimming pool.

The idea for the sand battery was first developed at a former pulp mill in the city of Tampere, with the council donating the work space and providing funding to get it off the ground.

” ‘If we have some power stations that are just working for a few hours in the wintertime, when it’s the coldest, it’s going to be extremely expensive,’ said Elina Seppänen, an energy and climate specialist for the city. ‘But if we have this sort of solution that provides flexibility for the use, and storage of heat, that would help a lot.’ …

“One of the big challenges now is whether the technology can be scaled up to really make a difference — and will the developers be able to use it to get electricity out as well as heat? The efficiency falls dramatically when the sand is used to just return power to the electricity grid. …

“Other research groups, such as the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory are actively looking at sand as a viable form of battery for green power. But the Finns are the first with a working, commercial system, that so far is performing well, according to the man who’s invested in the system.

” ‘It’s really simple, but we liked the idea of trying something new, to be the first in the world to do something like this,’ said Pekka Passi, the managing director of the Vatajankoski power plant.”

One of the aspects of this approach that I like best is that it doesn’t use lithium, a “blood mineral,” the mining of which often hurts local communities.

Check out the graphic at the BBC, here, to see how the sand-battery works.

Read Full Post »

There’s just one thing you probably can’t figure out from this picture story: what the guys are singing …

“All my exes live in Texas/ It’s why I hang my hat in Tennessee.”

160803_-Blues-on-Block

080316-Truck-Stop-Troubadors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

080316-crowd-at-beach-concert

080316-beach-picnic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

080316-dancing-on-beach

Read Full Post »

I find so many more photo ops in summer than in winter, although that may mean I am not paying enough attention when it’s cold out. Surely there are great shadows everywhere.

Here are a few pictures from the last two weeks.

From New Shoreham: a field with Fresh Pond in the upper left corner, yellow lichen taking over a stone wall and trees, roses growing by a gate, children warming up in the dark sand. In Providence: a shady walk on the west side of the Providence River, a painted butterfly on the path, a swan preening, a distant view of the so-called Superman Building, public art with a muskrat fishing (?), a poster explaining the art project. In Massachusetts: shadows on a tree, a chipmunk on a lichen-covered rock.

061116-Fresh-Pond

061116-yellow-lichen

 

 

 

 

061116-stone-wall-roses

061216-warm-dark-sand

 

 

 

 

 

061416-riverwalk-Providence

061416-butterfly-art-Providence

 

 

 

 

 

0615`6-swan-Providence

061516-distant-Superman-bldg-Providence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

061516-is-it-a-muskrat

061516-streetart-explanation

 

 

 

 

 

 

061016-shadow-on-tree-trunk

061616-chipmunk-and-lichen

Read Full Post »

clouds-080714

 

jellyfish-like-diamonds

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a bunch of island pictures for you again, having had a few days to take my time with things. The slow pace makes a nice change, but I wouldn’t want it every day of the year.

At least it has helped me make a serious dent in the first volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s multivolume memoirish novel.

The pictures don’t need much explanation. Wonderful clouds. Tiny jellyfish like diamonds where the waves pencil their retreat on the sandy shore. An approved path down the bluffs to a rocky beach.

Rhode Island taught me what the English meant by “shingle,” the smooth round stones that Matthew Arnold describes: “Listen, you hear the grating roar of pebbles, which the waves draw back and fling at their return up the high strand.” I first heard that sound in a Misquamicut motel at night, decades ago now.

 

seaside-summer-evening - Copy

alley-along-b-and-b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

back-of-b-and-b

path-to-beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

beach-stones

edge-of-the-sea

 

Read Full Post »

There’s nothing like good weather in Rhode Island in July. Good for walks and going to the beach. Good for a hardworking fishing industry, too.

Here are a few recent photos.

point-judith-rhode-island

country-lane

roses-growing-wild

two-kinds-of-roses

water-lilies

digging-in-the-sand

Read Full Post »

At the WordPress blog Montreal in Pictures, Martin has posted his beautiful photos of beautiful sand sculptures. Hard to believe this in a city beach.

Sand is challenging to work with. You have to keep it wet. But not too wet or it gets sloppy. The pros keep misting their creations lightly with spray bottles. I imagine sculpting in ice entails other very specific challenges. Especially if there is a warm spell at New Year’s.

Suzanne and John often participated in sand-sculpture contests in the summer. It was good fun, although you rarely saw anything as elaborate as the creations in Montreal. I don’t think anyone on the island organizes such competitions anymore, so we just try to be alert and have a camera ready for spontaneous solitary eruptions of creative energy.

Lots more great sand-sculpture photos by Martin here.

Photograph: Martin New at Montreal in Pictures

Read Full Post »

No doubt I would have grown up to be a photographer if the Brownie cameras and box cameras I used as a child had not gotten sand in them. After at least a week of high anticipation, the film kept coming back black. Very discouraging. All the effort I had put into creating little still-life scenes with dolls and sea shells — wasted!

So a word to the wise, if you take a camera to the beach, protect it.

I got a few pictures on this lovely June day, but I fear they lack the artistry that surely would have been evident had sand not mysteriously worked its way into all cameras in my youth.

Read Full Post »

One of the great things about going to the beach with your toddler grandson is seeing it through his eyes and remembering your own early experiences.

I remember the first time I went to Fire Island and played in the tide pools on the broad, sandy beach. My brother and I didn’t want to leave, and my parents also seemed relaxed and playful.

This morning I asked my in-law children whether they recalled any early beach memories. My daughter-in-law remembered an overcast week on Cape Cod, where she and her younger sisters liked climbing on a rocky jetty that stretched out into the water along the sand.

Erik, growing up in Sweden, didn’t see a lot of sandy beaches but has lovely summer memories of the islands of the Archipelego — climbing on the rocks and exploring. He also spent a lot of time on the water in boats and remains an avid sailor.

Here is Erik’s nephew climbing the rocks on the Swedish seacoast as Erik did at that age.

Here is my grandson with his mom yesterday. He was crazy about the ocean. And although he is not quite walking yet, he held hands and ran like mad along the sand, shrieking for joy.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: