X division of Alphabet Inc. has worked on some of the most far-reaching and ambitious projects of all time: from self-driving cars and delivery drones to storing renewable energy that otherwise might be wasted. According to a Bloomberg report, Alphabet’s research lab, X is working on a project codenamed ‘Malta’ and aims to store power from renewable energy using salts and antifreeze.
As per the project, the power generated from solar panels and wind turbines as thermal energy in molten salts and cold liquid. The renewable energy storage system could be located anywhere on the planet. It has the potential to last far-longer than lithium-ion batteries. (This begs the question, is Alphabet trying to one-up Tesla in its own home turf?) Additionally, the renewable energy storage system will be cheaper than hydroelectric plants and other existing clean energy storage methods.
Alphabet’s Project Malta
The Malta team is currently testing the first prototype in Silicon Valley. According to an insightful post about the workings of the system on Bloomberg, the system features four cylindrical tanks connected via pipes to a heat pump. Two tanks are filled with molten salts, while the other two are filled with antifreeze. The system absorbs the energy in the form of electricity, thus creating two streams of polar air. The hot air is to heat up the salts and the cold air is to cool the antifreeze. Based on how well the tanks are insulted, the clean energy storage system can store energy for days.
Now, don’t get your hopes up as this is just a prototype. The Malta team is eyeing a partnership to integrate the technology on a commercial-grid scale. This might help curb the problem of national blackouts such as the one that occurred in Australia which prompted Tesla CEO Elon Musk to build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery.
Using affordable materials, we can produce renewable energy that lines up with human consumption. This is not Google parent Alphabet’s first foray into clean energy. Not so long ago, we came to know about the project Dandelion aimed to change how we heat our homes using the power of geothermal heating and cooling. The unique project involves plastic pipes inserted 150m underground, where temperatures stay consistent. Water is then circulated via pipes into the home.
The renewable energy storage could easily consume $40 billion in investments by 2024. It’s interesting to see how Alphabet is putting its money where it can receive profits and a bonus – to save the planet and build a sustainable brand!