Energy Vault, maker of the EVx gravitational energy storage tower, has secured $100 million in series C funding. The investment was led by Prime Movers Lab, with additional participation from SoftBank, Saudi Aramco, Helena, and Idealab X.
The company said capital raised will support plans to ramp up deployments of the EVx platform for customers in the U.S., Middle East, Europe, and Australia. The first U.S. deployments are slated to begin fourth quarter 2021, with a broader global ramp-up throughout 2022, said Energy Vault.
The EVx platform is a six-arm crane tower designed to be charged by grid-scale renewable energy. It lifts large bricks using electric motors, thereby creating gravitational energy. When power needs to be discharged back to the grid, the bricks are lowered, harvesting the potential gravitational energy.
There is zero degradation in the storage capacity of the raised composite blocks, which can remain in the raised position for unlimited periods of time, said Energy Vault.
Energy Vault said the composite blocks are made of local soils, as well as materials otherwise destined for landfills or incinerators, including recycled coal ash, waste tailings from mining operations, and wind turbine blades.
In 2020, Energy Vault had the first commercial scale deployment of its energy storage system, and launched the new EVx platform this past April.
The company said the EVx tower features 80-85% round-trip efficiency and over 35 years of technical life. It has a scalable modular design up to multiple gigawatt-hours in storage capacity.
The company said its technology can economically serve both higher power/shorter duration applications with ancillary services from 2 to 4 hours and can also scale to serve longer-duration requirements from 5 to 24 hours or more.
With global lithium supply considered a constraint, and, according to the Biden administration, a national security issue, alternative measures are being taken to find ways to store solar and wind energy.
For example, Form Energy of Somerville, Massachusetts, has secured $240 million in series D funding for its iron-air batteries, which use iron pellets. The pellets are exposed to oxygen to create rust. The oxygen then is removed, reverting the rust to iron. Controlling this process allows the batteries to be charged and discharged. (Read: “Multi-day iron-air batteries reach commercialization… at one tenth the cost of lithium”)
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I would be curious if they have performed any analysis of how stable this construction would be under high winds and strong gusty winds or if its design allows it to be any more sturdy than construction cranes. Although cranes are designed to safely pivot in the wind, it seems not uncommon to read news stories about construction cranes failing in strong wind storms such as severe thunderstorms (albeit that may be a few accidents among a large sample, I don’t know the accident rate or risk rate).
Couldn’t this be a power generator on its own?
Place the towers in water. The weight descends via gravity generating power. At the end of the descent, the weight is dropped into a vessel and the cable is detached. The vessel is sealed and air is pumped in to displace the water until positive buoyancy is achieved. The weight and vessel ascend and the process repeats.
Not certain if the energy requirements to displace the water would be greater than energy generated making the whole thing moot. Maybe a compressed air battery could be used.
This definitively does not work for power generation. There’s no part of this where energy is harvested from an external source.
What are the laws of thermodynamics again?
Congratulations, you just invented perpetual motion.
Minor comment: You state ” It lifts large bricks using electric motors, thereby creating gravitational energy” you are inventing a new term here. I suggest that you use the term that we all learned in High School Physics — potential energy
Secondary comment: Rather than discussing the color of the bricks or the possible company logos that could be painted on them, it would be more responsible to discuss possible seismic problems with such a scheme of bricks. It might be more responsible to point out that your scheme might not work in Southern California or Seattle due to seismic building codes.
So if I lift 1kg of concrete 367m in the air I will have “stored” a potential energy of 1Wh
So for a 500 MWh storage tower (500,000,000 Wh) I would need to lift 500,000,000kg 367m
Concrete has an SG of about 2400kg/m3.
So my 500,000,000kg block is about 200,000m3 or 58x58x58 metres.
Why a 367m tower? That’s the height of the Empire State Building, give or take. … which incidentally weighs 365,000tons, less than our weight.
Or am I missing something?
Shhh… You’re not supposed to really crunch the numbers with any to do with Big Green’s tech….
Even Rube Goldberg is amazed at how complicated and convoluted these so-called solutions to making finicky wind and solar power work. Either stick with natural gas combined cycle power, thorium molten salt reactors, or solar power satellites – better yet, all three.
Ask Sandy Munro if he thinks this idea will work.
I am pretty sure he will say what I do, it is far too complicated, too many moving parts, too many failure points; that is not counting on the bricks perfectly stacking on each other.
PS, did anyone notice the bottom 1/3 of stack is effectively useless? Potential energy too small for effort to move it.
There are many less complicated and risky designs for gravity storage.
I don’t understand, the specific energy is 40x worse than lead acid. Put another way, your car at the top of the tower, stores about as much energy as the starter battery does.
One kg of concrete has embodied energy of 305wh, stores 1wh. This device requires 305 cycles to recover the energy. This is about the same as a lithium battery, before we count the towers, cables, pulleys, motor/generators, control and power conversion electronics.
Anyone know what fraction weight of the structural components in the tower need to be to deal with the loading? i.e. how many tonnes of weight are supported by a tonne of tower?
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