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#45: How Thermal Batteries are Bottling the Sun
Episode 4521st February 2024 • Earthlings 2.0 Podcast • Lisa Ann Pinkerton
00:00:00 00:37:10

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Welcome back, Earthlings, to another electrifying episode where we shine a light on the innovations set to redefine our energy landscape. Today, we're diving into a breakthrough poised to crack the code of the clean energy future: thermal batteries. We talk with Asegun Henry, founder and chief technology officer of Fourth Power, who sheds light on the inception, development, and future aspirations of thermal battery technology. We discuss the innovation's foundational principles, its advantages over traditional storage methods, and its role in achieving a cost-effective, long-duration energy storage solution. 

As we navigate away from conventional solutions, we understand that lithium isn't going to cut it for the long haul. We need a fresh perspective, a radical departure from the norm, which brings us to the crux of today's discussion: the potential of thermal batteries to serve as the holy grail of clean energy by offering a cost-effective solution for long-duration energy storage. By embracing this totally different way of thinking about energy storage, we edge closer to unlocking the holy grail of cheap, long-duration energy storage. The future is not just bright; it's thermal.

In this week's "Restoring Our Faith in Humanity" segment, we celebrate Allen [Sha-ji] and Sobin Matthew from India, who leverage their software and programming expertise to combat wildlife crime. Founders of Leopard Tech Labs, they've introduced the WildWatch program, employing machine learning to pre-empt human-wildlife conflicts. This program analyzes data on animal movements, historical wildlife incidents, and human activities near nature reserves to predict and prevent conflicts before they occur. Their innovative use of technology for environmental conservation exemplifies how digital skills can contribute significantly to protecting our planet, truly inspiring a hopeful outlook on humanity's capacity to nurture nature.

Key Topics: 

  • Innovative Approach to Energy Storage: Asegun Henry details the groundbreaking use of high-temperature graphite systems and liquid metal to store energy in carbon blocks, offering a scalable and efficient alternative to conventional storage technologies.
  • Cost Reduction and Power Density Enhancement: Fourth Power's strategy focuses on reducing costs and increasing power density by leveraging the unique properties of carbon and graphite and operating at higher temperatures.
  • Commercialization Roadmap: Asegun outlines the steps towards commercializing thermal battery technology, highlighting its potential to significantly impact global energy storage solutions by 2028-2029.
  • Thermal Batteries vs. Traditional Storage: The discussion emphasizes thermal battery technology's unique capability to mimic natural heat storage and transfer processes, presenting it as a superior alternative to lithium-ion batteries and other existing storage solutions.

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