Making A Do-It-Yourself Sand Battery

Storing energy can be done in many ways, with the chemical storage method of a battery being one of the most common. Another option is a thermal battery, which basically means making something hot, and later extracting that heat again. In this video by [Robert Murray-Smith] the basic concept of a thermal battery that uses sand is demonstrated.

By running a current through a resistive wire that’s been buried inside a container with sand, the sand is heated up to about 200 °C. As [Robert] points out, the maximum temperature of the sand can be a 1000 °C or more. Because sand doesn’t boil like water, the total amount of energy stored in sand is correspondingly higher.

Extracting the thermal energy can be done rather inefficiently using the demonstrated Peltier element. A Stirling engine, or steam generator and turbine, would get a lot more energy out. Either way, the thermal battery itself is made using just plain sand, which makes it an attractive DIY target to tinker with.

Continue reading “Making A Do-It-Yourself Sand Battery”

This film projecter is hiding an Arduino Uno that controls a water-based cooling system.

Cool The Shop With A Thermal Battery-Based System

Having any kind of shop is pretty great, no matter how large it may be or where it’s located. If the shop is in an outbuilding, you get to make more noise. On the other hand, it will probably get pretty darn hot in the summer without some kind of cooling system, especially if you don’t have a window for a breeze (or a window A/C unit).

Five 55-gallon tanks of tap water are buried just outside the shop.[Curtis in Seattle] built an awesome thermal battery-based cooling system for his shop. The battery part consists of five 55-gallon drums full of tap water that are connected in series and buried a foot underground, about two feet out from the wall. There are two radiators filled with water and strapped to 20″ box fans  — one inside the shop, which sends heat from the shop into the water, and another outside that transfers heat out of the water and into the cool night air. Most summer days, the 800-square-foot shop stays at a cool 71°F (21.7°C).

We love that the controls are housed in an old film projector. Inside there’s an Arduino Uno running the show and taking input from four DS18B20 one-wire temperature sensors for measuring indoor, outdoor, battery, and ground temperatures. There are four modes accessible through the LCD menu — idle, cool the shop, recharge mode, and a freeze mode in case the outside temperature plummets. Why didn’t [Curtis in Seattle] use anti-freeze? It’s too expensive, plus it doesn’t usually get that cold. (Although we hear that Seattle got several inches of snow for Christmas.) Check it out after the break.

If you can’t just go burying a bunch of 55-gallon drums in the ground where you live, consider building a swamp cooler out of LEGO.

Continue reading “Cool The Shop With A Thermal Battery-Based System”