Episode #723

December 10, 2022

Since man learned to control fire, civilization has prospered from the ready availability of energy.
Energy is essential for survival and arguably for peace on Earth.

In the Star Trek galaxy vast numbers of civilizations coexist peacefully.
This is in no small part due to dilithium crystals. It is a power source that can drive warp speed space ships, transport people from one location to another and produce goods and food out of thin air in a replicator. This source of unlimited energy eliminates competition for resources and allows people to focus on peace.

We do not currently have dilithium crystals. We have fossil fuels. The supply of fossil fuels falls short of the demand for energy. Furthermore, there is a limited supply of oil and gas. It is inevitable that we will run out.

Wind and Solar power are unlimited, renewable sources of energy, but they are inherently unreliable. When the wind does not blow windmills cannot generate electricity. At night, solar panels do not work. Wind and Solar are currently used to supplement the fossil fuel energy grid. During peak times, more energy is produced by renewable sources than is needed on the grid. The excess is wasted.

The missing element of a renewable grid is storage. Storing energy can smooth the unpredictable supply and make it available 24/7.

Tesla is solving the storage problem with Lithium-ion batteries. They make a Powerwall battery to smooth residential solar energy or as a backup when the power grid goes down. To supplement or replace the power grid Tesla makes a Megapack. Each Megapack battery unit can store 3 MegaWattHours (MWh) of energy. That is enough energy to power 3,600 homes for one hour. Multiple Megapacks can power entire cities day and night.

The trouble with Lithium-ion batteries is that its mining and disposal is bad for the environment and the chemical elements needed are more rare than our eventual demands. Other battery chemistries are being developed, such as Sodium-ion, Solid-state and Lithium-sulphur.

All these chemical battery solutions come with a limited life of charge and discharge cycles. In other words, they all wear out.

Humans are resourceful and imaginative. 

A Crow perishing with thirst saw a pitcher, and hoping to find water, flew to it with delight. When he reached it, he discovered to his grief that it contained so little water that he could not possibly get at it. He tried everything he could think of to reach the water, but all his efforts were in vain. At last he collected as many stones as he could carry and dropped them one by one with his beak into the pitcher, until he brought the water within his reach and thus saved his life.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
—The Crow and the Pitcher, Aesop’s Fable

Heat batteries are emerging as efficient, low cost sources of stored energy. Sand batteries store 1000°F heat generated from solar or wind energy or even excess energy from the fossil fuel grid. This stored energy can be used to heat homes or boil water to drive electric turbines at a later time.

An improvement on the sand battery is the Rondo heat battery. It stores 2000°F temperatures in an echo heating chamber for longer than 12 hours. This battery has energy density about the same as Lithium-ion, yet uses no exotic materials and is less expensive to make and run.

What is possibly the ultimate solution to world wide renewable energy use is the gravity battery. Large scale water based gravity batteries are currently used throughout the energy grid. Renewable energy is used to pump water up to a reservoir where the potential energy waits to be dropped down pipes to turn electric generators. This method requires vast amounts of water and infrastructure.

A company called Gravitricity has made a prototype gravity battery. It uses a heavy weight mounted on a cable in a tower. Excess renewable energy is used to lift the weight. At night or when the wind is not blowing the weight is dropped slowly. This turns a generator which produces energy. By increasing the height and or the weight more energy can be stored. By increasing the number of towers entire cities can be powered. One idea is to place the gravity batteries in one mile deep abandoned mine shafts. How ironic that used up coal mines can be used for future gravity generated energy.

Gravity batteries are a weighty subject and heat batteries warm the cockles of the human heart.
They are the future.

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.
Humans are resourceful and imaginative.
Finding a way to unlimited free energy might also be the path to peace.

“Skydivers Know Why Birds Sing” by Ricki T Thues is now available on Amazon.
It is a Love story of Rick and Paula Thues and their 35 years of Skydiving.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.

Follow Ricki T Thues on Amazon HERE.

“Technically Human” by Ricki T Thues, the iMentor, is now available on Amazon.
It is a compilation of selected episodes from this bLog which tell the story of Humanity through the eyes of the iMentor.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.
The ebook version of “Technically Human” is also available on Kobo. Click HERE.
For you Barnes and Noble Nook readers it is available for Nook. Click HERE.
The “Technically Human” ebook is also available on Apple Books . Click HERE.




  1. Jeff Laun December 9, 2022
  2. Dan'l+Leviton December 9, 2022
  3. Terry December 16, 2022

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