Salt batteries are set to change the game for heating up a million homes

  •  Scientists at Eindhoven Institute of Technology, headed by Adan have invented a form of “heat battery” that works with salt and water.
  • Their invention works on a simple Thermo clinical principle and has won a subsidy of seven million euros at the European consortium called HEAT-INSIDE.
  • The invention of these batteries will subsequently reduce the pressure on the use of gas for powering more than three million households and will prove to be a safer and cleaner option in the future.

In this current era of climate change, nature seems to be fighting back against the torture ensued by the human population. With global warming, at an all-time high along with various other dangerous climate-associated phenomena such as forest fires and el Ninos, it’s no doubt that the future appears to be very dark. The pressure on critically depleting natural resources such as coal has been rising like never before and the shift towards cleaner sources such as wind and water has been equally slow. At this point, the world is desperate for a respite, for a cleaner energy source that is easily available to all.

Ultimately the good news is scientists have developed a “game-changing” salt battery working on heat evolving principles, hence also giving it the name “heat batteries” that are set to power homes all over Europe.

Heat Battery Invention – The route to make homes gas-free

The need for taking conventional power methods such as liquid and piped gas at homes off the market has been felt greatly since the conflict in Ukraine. Now, a team of researchers from The Eindhoven University of Technology has made some groundbreaking claims after inventing a “Heat Battery”. This heat battery made by them is based on salt and water and is a cheap and compact battery system that they claim can provide a quick and large-scale solution for over three million households in the Netherlands. The main aspect of this invention is the possibility of gas-free homes in Europe. The benefits of such a gas-free home, if achieved, will be uncountable. Not only will this be a safer and a much cheaper alternative, but also sustainably reduce the ongoing energy crisis. If successful, this alternative will prove to be easy on the pockets while also reducing the number of accidents due to gas leakage in homes.

The principle behind the Invention and its history

A simple experiment immediately reveals the essence of the heat battery. As Olaf Adan has demonstrated the same multiple times before, the basic working principle of the battery is seen by filling a small bottle with white salt grains and adding a little water till it starts to sizzle. Moreover, as if by magic, the bottle instantly feels incredibly hot.

Adan, professor, and principal investigator at TNO is at the heart of the Eindhoven heat battery, which essentially revolves around a relatively old thermochemical principle. The reaction of a salt hydrate with water vapor. “The salt crystals absorb the water, become larger, and, in the process, release heat,” says Adan. Hence the rapidly warming bottle. But the reverse is also possible. “By adding heat, you evaporate the water off and basically ‘dry’ the salt, thus reducing the size of the salt crystals,” Adan explains. As long as no water gets to this dry salt powder, the heat is always stored in it. So, unlike with other types of heat storage, nothing is lost: The battery is completely loss-free. Another positive point is that one can repeat this process endlessly, one way or the other, thereby providing the basis for a heat battery that can store heat and use it at a later time and in a different place.

The researchers have claimed that this invention could be a game-changer for the energy transition. While the principle of the battery may be simple, applying it to a battery certainly is not. Witness the fact that Adan has been working on this for over 12 years. Eventually, Adan arrived at the so-called closed-loop system, a demonstrator of which he built-in 2019. This recirculating system consists of components including a heat exchanger, fan, evaporator/condenser, and a boiler with salt particles. The invention was demonstrated and it allowed Adan within the European consortium called HEAT-INSYDE to win a substantial subsidy of seven million euros for further development. The team then set to work to ‘upgrade’ the demonstrator to a prototype ready for use in practice which has now been achieved.

The advantages of salt batteries

The biggest advantage of this method is its ability to reduce the loss of energy.  The loss of any form of energy in the current scenario of the world where we are battling with so many issues such as climate change and depletion of resources is absolutely unimaginable. Hence an invention that is so foolproof and conserves energy is an absolute blessing to this modern world.

Another major feature of this invention is the fact that when energy comes from renewable sources such as wind or solar energy, fluctuations are often found. To make up for those fluctuations gas is required to supplement them. In such scenarios, this invention becomes an absolute boon.

It has also been claimed that the heat source to store in the salt can be even taken from industrial byproducts such as residual heat waste in factories. This further reduces the loss of energy and increases conservation and use of energy. This invention guarantees safer homes. Gas-free homes are always safer homes.

Disclaimer: This information is covered based on the latest research and development available. However, it may not fully reflect all current aspects of the subject matter.

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