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honestly robotic cranes stacking and unstacking useless concrete weights for all eternity is the surreal dieselpunk energy storage solution earth deserves qz.com/1355672/stacking-concre

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@vogon fantastic! This is the kind of innovation that makes me feel that the future may actually be pretty awesome.

@sixohsix @vogon Totally agreed. Maybe there's a market for this crane, maybe not, but it's definitely worth finding out. I especially suspect the flexibility of the concept - the fact it can use a variety of dense waste materials - may be worthwhile.

Sure hope a fully stacked tower of concrete blocks can hold up to strong winds, though. I'd hate to see the mess *and* loss of useful energy that would ensue if one of these went Jenga...

@mDuo13 @vogon I think it has a lot of potential. While batteries are cheaper they really are full of horrible poison metals. Stacks of concrete are not.

@vogon This looks way more complicated/expensive than hydro, or even batteries. Round-trip losses and cost per stored kWh have to be low enough for it to be viable. On the other hand, every extra meter of crane gives great dividends

For fun, some quick calculation assuming you have that 120 meter crane (60 meter average height): concrete density = 2400 kg/m³, concrete cost = $108 per yd³ ($141 / m³). E = 2400*9.82*60 = 0.4 kWh. You're looking at $350 per kWh energy stored, compared to around $50 for lead-acid (alibaba). Even if you fill used oil drums ($8 per 208 liter drum) with dirt, you're still looking at $100 per kWh

I'm more psyched about some of the carbon technology that's coming out, where we can make batteries for bulk storage out of say used car tires or wood waste. Potentially way cheaper than lead-acid. Non-toxic too

@tomas @vogon there’s a whole bit in the article where they address concrete costs

@rotor Yeah. Cost is still higher tho. But on the other hand the concrete drums might not wear out as fast as batteries

@tomas that, plus they take waste out of the waste stream instead of manufacturing more of it, plus the capacity doesn’t degrade over time.

@vogon If this will require us to produce more concrete, that could be a problem; because concrete production is energy-intensive and polluting.

@kdsch @vogon certainly not as much as the lithium ion batteries they intend to replace

@kdsch @vogon this might be a good way to recycle concrete waste from decommissioned structures

@mattsiegel @kdsch yeah the article mentions in passing that in deployment they plan not to use fresh structural concrete, but rather cement + aggregate that would otherwise go to landfills

@vogon for a second i thought a competing technology was claiming 99% efficiency 🤔 😅

@vogon "Cranes and motors have been around for decades"

mmhmm

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