Renewable energy is a popular topic right now, with a very strong focus on wind and solar energy. However, there is another contender that may emerge sooner rather than later. Magaldi, an Italian energy startup, is experimenting with hot sand to power homes and other locations. Turning hot sand into electricity sounds like a novel idea, and it is still in the very early stages of project development.
Hot Sand Is The Next Renewable Energy To Keep An Eye On
It has to be said, the Italian company is quite forward thinking with their idea when it comes to renewable energy sources. There is an abundance of sand on the planet which is seemingly used for little else other than main glass or crawling in nooks and crannies of the human body after a trip to the beach. Some regions are prone to much warmer sand compared to others, and it seems there may be a use case for the hot variant after all.
To be more specific, Magaldi is still harnessing solar energy by using sand. The company is reflecting sunlight onto a light mirror, which is directing the light onto a tank filled with silica sand. With enough light from the sun reflecting on the sand, the sand eventually heats up and can be used as a renewable energy source. This is all made possible due to the fact the tank containing the sand acts as a boiler, albeit one powered by sunlight.
This makes the process very different from how sunlight usually warms silica sand. Under traditional circumstances, the sun warms the upper layers of sand, whereas the rest remains rather cold. This tank used by Magaldi provides a way for the sunlight to reach all layers of sand, pushing up the average temperature Once the heat is transferred all across the sand in the tank, it is heated up until it reaches about 650 degrees centigrade.
Said heat is then used to turn water into steam, which is shot through sophisticated turbines. As a result, one effectively generated energy, although not in major quantities. Right now, the company outputs about two megawatts of power per module The goal is to build a few dozen units, each consisting of ten modules producing 21.5 megawatts of power in total. Quite an ambitious goal, although it seems to be achievable by the deadline of early Q4 2017.
One reason why sand is so valuable to the Italian company is because the material retains heat for a longer period of time. Even if the sunlight was to disappear behind the clouds for a while, sand will successfully generate energy, even though its production may drop off after a while. Unlike solar panels, sand is more efficient in this regard. Then again, no one will put a few tons of sand on their roof either, which makes the concept unsuitable for consumers.
In the end, it is good to see companies look into other resources to generate renewable energy. Sand may not necessarily be the best solution, yet it can provide a powerful alternative in places where there is a lot of sun and sand to go around. It will be interesting to see how Magaldi fares over the coming years. Their idea is quite a novelty, yet there remains a lingering question of how feasible this concept really is.
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