Science & Tech

Finland invented the world’s first sand battery

Finland has built the world’s first sand battery, which can store heat from a variety of energy sources for months.

What is the Sand Battery System?

  • The battery is a massive steel silo 7 m tall and 4 m wide with 100 tonnes of sand that will be placed in the Finnish town of Kankaanpaa in June 2022.
  • It is linked to the town’s centralized heating system, which maintains buildings and public water systems warm.

The storage system has three main components:

  • Sand silo,
  • Electrical air heater, and
  • Air-to-water heat exchanger

The operating concept

  • The electrical air heater heats the air to 600°C for filling the sand silo.
  • The hot air is then circulated within the silo via a heat exchange pipe and blowers, raising the temperature of the sand at the silo’s center to 600°C.
  • The blowers are used to pump air into the conduit inside the sand silo when the storage reaches the discharging stage.
  • When the air hits 200°C, it is transferred to an air-to-water heat exchanger and used to boil water.
  • It is then routed to the heating system.

Electricity Requirements and Battery Capacity

  • The storage system needs constant power to charge the battery, monitor the temperature while in standby, and operate the blowers when the battery is used.
  • The installed battery can hold 8 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy and emit heat at 0.1 MW, enough to heat and supply hot water to approximately 100 homes and a public swimming pool.

The Benefits of Sand as a Heat Storage Material

  • Because of its benefits, the Finnish researchers replaced water in the battery system with sand.
  • Sand can withstand temperatures of up to 600 degrees Celsius (°C), whereas water begins to simmer at 100°C.
  • It also has a low heat conductivity, which helps to minimize energy loss.

The Value of Heat Energy

  • According to the International Energy Agency, heat accounts for half of global energy consumption, followed by transportation (30%) and power (20%). (IEA).
  • Currently, dirty fossil fuels provide 80 percent of the world’s electricity.
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