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06. Safe fragrances
05. DNA mass information store
04. Garden mounds for permaculture
03. Silver as high-tech material
02. Micro needle transmits medications and light
01. Electricity storage in gravity systems

12. An eye on space hazards
11. Water purification through freezing
10. Solar shingles
09. Trinary code
08. Vegetation-based battery materials
07. Indoor position location
06. The interface industry
05. Hypersonic aircraft
04. Re-usable glass packaging
03. Vein patterns as personal ID
02. Magnet making bacteria
01. Ultra-light solids

12. Ultrasound in water
11. Projected touchscreen
10. Electric airplane
08. Glass hard disc
04. Nuclear hazard
03. Clearing “sewer soap”
02. Water harvesting
01. Tea bag size personal water filter

12. Human powered water transport
11. The Technium
08. Bio-remediation of oil spills
07. Cleaner coal
05. Oil spill remediation
04. Solar towers
03. Brain-computer
02. Biodiesel producing bacteria
01. Hydrogen producing bacteria

12. Levitating living organisms
11. A new blue
10. Polymer magnets
09. Electric vehicle batteries
08. Implantable cancer monitors
07. Algal biofuel
06. Geo-Thermal Heat Pump
05. Battery powered roadster
04. Fenestration
03. Text to voice
02. Implantable ID chips
01. Air cleansing building material

12. ebooks
11. Energy Harvesting
10. Private space-flights
09. Virus identification chip
08. Bio-fuels
07. Electronic financial trading
06. Bio-remediation
05. New tech agriculture
04. Manufactured Hotels
03. Magnetic Induction
02. Genetic Vaults
01. Solid-state lighting

12 Bacteria in agriculture and industry
11. Blue revolution
10. Electronic nose
09. Nuclear sarcophagus
08. Shape shifting technology
07. Thought activated technology
06. Green is cool - make me look green
05. Electronic 'drugs'
04. Super-canals and super-ships
03. Environmentally friendly technology: greens versus grays
02. Agriculture: food,fiber and fuel
01. FPGA floating-point performance surpasses microprocessor

08. Energy sources for electricity compete
07. Universal interface (UI)
06. Magnetic levitation
05. Light pipes
04. Storage of electricity
03. Automotive engines
02. Molecular assembly
01. Introducing Technoscan Newsbriefs

Vol. 8, No. 1, January 31, 2013
ISSN 1932-3018

Electricity storage in gravity systems
Positioning this technology in the
Functionality Grid
Reformatted from: Van Wyk, Rias J: Technology - A Unifying Code, 2004, SMG, Cape Town, p.34. Based on: Ropohl, Gunter: Eine Systemtheorie der Technik, 1979, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich and Vienna, p.178.
This Newsbrief deals with a fundamental technological problem - the storage of electricity after it has been generated. It is one of the greatest needs in advancing the techno-sphere. In terms of the Atlas of Technology it is concerned with the storage of energy (E).
The increased reliance on renewable sources of energy has emphasized the need for better storage technology to cope with variable energy supplies.
Various approaches are being considered. These include:
  • Converting electricity back to mechanical storage devices
  • Converting electricity back to chemical storage devices
  • Storing electricity as current
At present the first category dominates the techno-sphere. One particular technology accounts for the greatest part of this share, namely "pumped-storage hydropower" (PSH). Approximately 99 percent of bulk electricity storage capacity falls into this category. ("Packing some power", The Economist, Technology Quarterly, March 3-9, 2012, pp. 35-36.)
PSH is well known in the electricity generating community. During times of excess electricity availability, water is pumped to a higher elevation. When supply of electricity diminishes, water runs downhill through generators to boost availability. The efficiency of the system is said to be in the range of 70 to 75 per cent.
Now an alternative procedure using gravity is being developed. Referred to as "advanced rail energy storage" (ARES), the system uses surplus electricity to pull modified railway cars to the top of a hill. When electricity is needed the cars, equipped with generators, use gravity to return to the lower elevation. The system is estimated to have an efficiency of 85 per cent. On the NASA nine point scale of technology readiness levels (TRLs), this technology is at level 3.

Technology explorers should anticipate further approaches using gravity.

© Rias J. van Wyk, 2013. Editor.