By Mark Halper | October 2, 2012, 3:52 AM PDT
Air, that invisible ampleness all around us, could hold on to energy from wind turbines that spin at night when we don’t need the electricity, and then release it later, the BBC reports.
All you have to do is first turn the air into a liquid state, using technology adapted by a British company called Highview Power Storage.
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Highview uses night time electricity generated by wind turbines to chill air down to -190 degrees C (-310 degrees F), at which point it becomes liquid nitrogen. (I assume the process could also store excess daytime solar energy, although the BBC article only discusses wind).
Store that liquid in a giant vacuum, heat it back into a gas some other time, and the rush of air will drive a turbine. Feel good that renewable energy, not dirty old coal, will power your coffee maker in the morning. Except possibly for one thing – some external energy source has to help warm things up, and that source might not be renewable.