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December 22, 2007

An important new patent in the field of energy storage

It is US Patent 7,251,118 and can be viewed on this site.

The patent is fundamental to the development of a special class of capacitors, sometimes called “Supercapacitors”. Such capacitors have the potential to store large amounts of electricity in very small physical volumes.

The most inconvenient property of electricity is that it is very difficult to store. This particularly results in generation inefficiencies in which supply and demand are not matched.

For example let us say we are trying to “harvest” the abundant solar energy available in Southern California. The energy input (insolation) peaks at about 2PM. However the maximum demand for the power does not occur until 5PM. Storage of that power for the 3 hours is very difficult. Batteries, pumped storage, flywheels are very inefficient and waste up to 70% of the stored energy.

Similarly power plants, whether coal, oil or gas fired, are most efficient when operated at constant output. Instead it is necessary to design them to accept the maximum load. If there were an effective way to store the output less fuel would be burned and the masses of copper used in transmission lines would be considerably less.

The capacitor technology developed by Mr. Nevin may well be an answer to this dilemma. Large amounts of electricity can be stored on non-planar conformal plates allowing unheard of energy densities.

Parties wishing to learn more about this technology can contact Mr. Nevin at Nonplanar Nanostructures.