Dutch inventor stores energy in basalt stones
An inventor from Brabant, the Netherlands, has found a viable solution for energy storage: basalt. Electrical current from solar panels is converted into heat and stored in basalt stones.
Cees van Nimwegen (75) from Bes, a former employee of Philips, developed a system to save energy. In a barn, he has built an energy battery. “This test stand is a storage system for sustainable energy, it is full of small pieces of basalt,” says Van Nimwegen. It is a dense bunker, surrounded by 120 cubic meters of insulation material and finished with steel and concrete.
How does it work?
Van Nimwegen converts the electricity from solar panels into heat, and that heat is transferred via pipes in the basalt container. The stones absorb the heat and hold it for a long time. “It can be as high as 500 degrees Celsius,” Van Nimwegen is proud to say. The stored heat can be recovered from the basalt pebbles later, in cold winter, for example. You could do the same with power from wind turbines, he says.
Van Nimwegen wants to use that heat for underfloor heating, but the inventor also sees possible applications on a large scale. In the future, households will switch from natural gas heating to collective heating networks. Bunkers full of basalt can become an ideal local heat source. Geothermal energy can also feed heat networks with heat from the deep bottom. Waste heat from factories is also an option, but this polluting industry will eventually disappear.
Van Nimwegen has already applied for a European patent. Apart from that, the system can only store heat, and there is no possibility to convert it back to electricity. Moreover, the inventor does not give any information on how long he can maintain the temperature in the insulated bunker. It is also too early for figures on efficiency or storage capacity. The significant advantage is that basalt is widely available and inexpensive.