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Foam and air pressure (device)

Foam and air pressure (device)


Mechanical energy can be stored via elastic deformation of materials and air compression.

Compressing foam via a vaccum combines elastic deformation with air compression. The combination of the two forms of mechanical energy storage may eventually allow for a rather finetuned energy conversion.

Sketch of device

The following is the sketch of a concept for an energy storage application.

In mechanical clocks energy is stored via the deformation of (usually spiral) springs. It is however a technical rather laborious task to convert the displacement of a material deformation like e.g. from springs from and back to electrical energy. (see also wikipedia entry on Hooks Law in linear elasticity)

Vacuum bags with a valve are e.g. used for the storage of textiles. Here the textiles are compressed with the help of a vaccuum cleaner which sucks the air out of the bag and thus diminishes the volume of the textiles. Textiles have usually a not too big “spring constant” or strain. There are foams or sponges which have a higher strain and thus a higher capacity for energy storage. If one deforms materials in this way then the concrete configuration of the material (in contrast to e.g. an alignment of springs) doesn’t matter very much, i.e. the displacement is achieved via “crumpling together” all the little “springs” (i.e. the walls) which make up a foam or sponge. Moreover the air which is contained in the foam cells is partially compressed, partially sucked out of the cell, which makes the cell walls (partially)“collapse”.

The vacuum pump can be driven by an intermittend energy resource like from a photovoltaic element. Here one should note that a rather high transmission may here probably be necessary. That is the vaccum pump will be driven by an electrical motor which is fueled by the intermittend energy resource, the mechanical energy needs however probably to be transmitted via gears in order to balance the possibly rather high forces (high in comparision to the motorforces)). This may be a mechanical challenge and eventually leakages may pose a too big problem. Since the overall storage capacity is limited by the outside air pressure, it may be that inefficiences are getting too big for meaningful possible usecases. So one should do and insert here some sample calculations.

The stored energy can be converted into electrical energy in a rather finetuned way like by letting the air go back into the vaccuum bag through a little hole, which contains a little wind wheel which drives a (high efficiency) electrical motor. The transmission depends here on the electrical application to be driven.

Such a device could be e.g. used in applications for camping or household.

But eventually it could however also be scaled up for architectural solutions similar to those proposed in other potential energy solutions. In particular it is to be asked wether the compression of insulation material in roofs could eventually be used for energy storage in an architectural context. In particular certain insulation materials like e.g. isofloc or neptutherm come already in airtight bags. Of course apart from clogging prevention one would need to take problems like a possible non-elasticity of the insulation material or (eventually negatively) changing insulation paramters into account.

With some more work (like I haven’t checked wether this proposal exists already somewhere, see also mentioned problems above) this could eventually again be deposited on the arxiv (like the just mentioned article in here in order to have a better shield against patent trolls. I am a bit sceptic that the wikihistory of the azimuth wiki would be sufficient as a protectional measure against potential patent-cease-and-desists aggressors…