SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Green technology is powering the future, but storing it is more expensive than creating it. Now one local engineer has come up with a solution that is affordable and accessible for small businesses and homeowners – and it fits in your garage.
“This is our full-size unit. This will take about 30KW hours, which is about what one solar string produces in a day,” said Zack Spencer.READ MORE: Entire Staff Quits Noah's Bagels In Vacaville In Protest — And Video Goes Viral
Spencer – who runs Spencer Composites Corporation, an industrial automation company in Sacramento – showed us a prototype for his new energy storage device.
It’s about the size of a washing machine and can power two households a day.
“What we’ve developed is a unique way to store power that doesn’t use any lithium. It’s non-rare materials, easily found everywhere,” said Spencer.
One of the problems with solar energy is where you store it when the sun goes down. At this point in time, it’s more expensive to store it than create more energy.
The bigger problem is what to do with it, says Brandi Andreasen who works for Sunworks a national solar provider.
“Everybody wants to produce enough energy to get away from their utility bill, but the utility bill won’t let you produce more than 100 percent of what you use,” she said.
Spencer’s team showed us the $10,000 prototype that harnesses the power of physics to harness the power of the sun. Engineer John Garber says it starts with a rotor that spins about Mach-3 – three times the speed of sound.READ MORE: 5G Rollout Concerns: How Could Technology, Delay Impact Sacramento?
It ends with an array of magnets that channel the energy, creating a motor.
“If I can put in current and create torque, I can take torque out and create current and the motor becomes a generator,” he said.
The air is pumped out to create a vacuum – and you have your storage device.
Spencer says cold weather doesn’t impact the performance, and it can charge/discharge as many times as you want without degrading. It ends up lasting 30 years, three times a lithium battery.
“In production, this should be less than any chemical batteries like liquid-ion or lead-acid. This should be the cheapest battery on the market,” said Spencer.
Andreasen says, given the government’s green initiative, it could spark a whole new industry of energy storage and warehousing for commercial and agricultural businesses.
“Everybody wants to go green, everybody wants to help the environment, Andreasen said. “But at the end of the day, it needs to make economic sense.”MORE NEWS: Community Suggests 'Super Happy Fun Time' Name For New Roseville Park
Spencer’s team is currently finishing up the prototypes and doing testing, hoping to get it out to consumers in the next year.