Grothe Power Tower

   - energy storage solutions

 

watertower-collage2

FAQ's (answers to questions)

Topics:

1) Why use Water Towers for energy storage?

2) Your enthusiasm for this project is contagious! Do you think this is doable in local communities in a big city as well as small rural farm communties?

3) Hope you make it! Can you give a summary of your project?

4) Good luck Robert. I want one. How long before they are available?

5) What about linking your energy storage devices together into a smart grid for the larger community?

6) Can your power towers help reduce or eliminate power outages?

7) Isn't your power towers storing expensive electricity during the day and giving it back during the cheap times of the night?

8) From your design you look like you are using moving parts for your energy storage? Doesn't this cause friction?

9) How long will your power towers last?

10) It sounds great to me, maybe it's also possible to build watertowers for a community, on a larger scale?  you got my support ;)

11) Great idea. Substainable energy with out huge investments. Can it be in a residential area? And will it generate new jobs?

12) So about how large would one of these have to be to power a house?

13) Will these power towers store enough energy to run a houshold during night and power outages?

14) Can you give more details about your power towers?

15) How is the energy stored? Is it the potential energy of the water in the tower or the thermal energy of the water heated by the solar panels?

16) I don't see why you use a water tower to maintain pressure. You have to pump the hydrogen in against that pressure, but any tank gives the same effect. The cost of fuel cells is also a big worry to me.

17) The power tower is a good word, but this might require a lot of space for heat generation if it is a passive way, can we get a little elaborated version?

18) Why use a tower instead of a regular tank? How does this compare in cost and efficiency to pumped hydro power storage?

  

(Comments/Responses)

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C1: It seems you have many challenges to make this work? How are you solving them?

by pk47


R1: Thanks again Pantelis, energy storage innovations and solutions are the key to the renewable energy transition in the world. There are many challenges to this storage, but no one solution will work for every need. Thus we need many different kinds of solutions that match specify applications. For some we need very portable mobile high density energy storage like fuel for transportation. For other large community storage applications, it would be a waste of resources to store energy inside other materials, pressurize, or liquefy that energy storage when the raw bulk energy storage methods make the best sense and solve the immediate needs simply and directly.

This is where the Grothe Power Tower comes in, making energy storage a simple straight forward solution for a local community in a common highly visible almost universally accepted water tower device. These Grothe Power Tower devices makes sense for the application we're proposing in the simple designs we've proposed. That excites and energizes us to get the financing needed to make these simple devices happen, in a short time period, and at a cost everyone can afford.

by PowerTower     +1

 

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C2: your enthusiasm for this project is contagious!

by radarmcd


R2: Thanks Radar, yes renewable energy storage solutions are contagious. And with alittle help from supporters like yourself we can make a difference together. Spread the word!  (and yes, these power towers can be used in big cities as well as rural farming communities. In fact the design is so flexible that anywhere you see a water tower a Grothe Power Tower can be used right along side of it.)

by PowerTower

 

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C3: Hope you make it!

by jellie


R3: A summary of the Grothe Power Tower Benefits:

     1) sustainable energy storage device for home and local community use,
     2) uses surplus energy from local solar panels or wind turbines,
     3) stores energy in a common water tower design, using readily available common materials,
     4) produces electricity using energy efficient cold state PEM fuelcells for night or windless days anytime renewables are off-line,
     5) no combustion or moving parts to wear out throughout design,
     6) flexible and scalable to meet local anticipated electrical and energy needs for small, medium and large applications,
     7) lasts for decades,
     8) safe to operate near residential homes and in local communities, 
    9) solves multiple energy needs for homeowner (i.e. electrical, heat, transportation fuel, clean water),
    10) ready to mass manufacture in 3-5 years,
    11) can be easily transported using container trucks, railroad cars, or cargo ships.

by PowerTower     +1

 

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C4: Good luck Robert. I want one.
Bud

by budhedrick


R4: Thanks Bud, our goal is to have these in production in 2-3 years depending on the financiing we can generate for the project. We will be working hard to keep the size manageable and costs within reach of most homeowners. Maybe get some legislation passed for incentives for installing clean green energy storage devices for your home.

by PowerTower     +1

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C5: This seems lke a good idea, with potential for generating hydrogen without using poluting fuels like oil and natural gas as the power source. There are a lot of steps needed to prove the concept, but it appears to have validity, at least on a rather small scale. Producing hydrogen from excess power generation for short periods and reprocessing it back into power seems perfectly workable. Storing larger quantities of hydrogen for future use may be very difficult. Since a hydrogen distribution system for fuel cell cars is in its infancy, a system to recover surplus hydrogen from local producers has not likely been considered. However, if the Grothe Power Tower proves to be a valid approach, some other inventor will find a way to collect and redistribute it and do it profitable, I am positive, afterall this is America.

by glenpatsmith


R5: Hi Glen, your comments are greatly appreciated. And yes we've also thought as an off shoot of tying these Grothe Power Tower devices into a local smart grid network and giving these an ability to monitor and manage the energy they contain in a larger neighborhood context, feeding some of the energy they've stored into the heating pipelines for common household heatig needs.

by PowerTower

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C6: Very workable!!! Great Idea.

by TacomaStan


R6: Thanks Stan for your support. Yes these Power Towers are totally workable since we have already created a working table top prototype to prove it. Now we are seeking grant money, financiing, and a great strategic development partnership to step up the full scale household model testing. While this first field test model will be built using a worse case energy needs design scenario for an avg household, the research done here will be invaluable for larger local community scaled projects coming later. This household model will enable us to refine our design, put into place some better safety features with help from the experts in the field, and work out the optimum power tower size for energy containment and water storage while keeping a high energy profile going throughout the entire energy storage system.

In the final Grothe Power Tower production units we are looking to lower the overall size of the water tower design for household use, and yet increase the energy output through better fuelcell integration and efficient designs. If we can simplified the design or make it serve multi-household purposes (ie adding heat from the fuelcell stack back into the household) we will also be looking to add these. In the final product it will simply look like and act like a small water tower or space needle (think Seattle, but a bit more jazzy) in the backyard or a bit larger for the local neighborhood usage, delivering local on-demand electricity from local surplus energy produced by solar and wind in the neighbothood.

Our plans are to greatly reduce or even totally eliminate electrical outages from downed power lines for any size neighborhood or community. No more 10's of thousands of people without electrical power for days or weeks on end using our clean, sustainable energy storage solution the Grothe Power Tower devices in the neighborhood. That's a better cleaner way to live for us and for our children to come.

by PowerTower     +1

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C7: I would think that hydrogen storage and transportation is not as easy as natural gas, as the website alleges. In fact, hydrogen, being the lightest element, is the most difficult of all elements to contain within anything, but specially designed vessels. Furthermore, I am not quite sure why anyone would want to convert renewable energy sources into hydrogen, then back into electricity, when in all probability, that electrical power, especially solar PV and/or CSP was generated when demand (and cost) are at their highest, during daytime, then accept the inevitable losses of reconverting back into electricity when demand (and cost), are at their lowest, during nightime. Is there any other valid reason as to why this should be the best way to use renewable energy sources in such a manner?

by pk47


R7: Hi Pantelis, thanks for your comments. Hydrogen gas handling and transportation has its challenges, just like natural gas, propane, butane, and even uranium. But in all of these we have grown in our understanding of their use, storage, and transportation. With all these fuels except hydrogen we have discovered an ugly truth: they are producing huge amounts of by-products that are causing damage to the environment. I believe these Grothe Power Tower energy storage devices are the right thing to use, alongside the rapid deployment and spread of solar and wind into our local communities. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and while it has its challenges in keeping it in a pure gaseous state, the nice thing is water, hydrogen and oxygen gas do readily coexist together and in a safe state until needed for electrical generation. They can all be contained and used inside a water tower-like device using the same engineering principles and common materials used in current water tower construction project. It has been proven from actual storage that common steel pressurized gas bottles will hold hydrogen gas just as nicely without loss of pressure for dozens of years as air or one of the fossil based fuels. There is little to no bleed off from storing hydrogen in these common gas bottles we use every day.

We have managed to design our Grothe Power Tower device to take advantage of this natural coexistence of water with hydrogen and oxygen gas and applied some natural laws of fluid dynamics along with a constant source of gravity, and added a relatively new solid state device called a fuel cell stack. Water, once separated into its constituent elements does not recombine or get absorbed back into water, though they are in constant contact at the water surface level until the gases are brought back together safely with a cold state catalyst inside the fuel cell. No combustion, no pumps, pistons, gears, or weights. No moving parts at all, making the fuel cell generate electricity with little to no maintenance or repair at highly efficient conversion rates compared to mechanical devices.

Secondly, these Grothe Power Towers store SURPLUS energy from the two primary renewable energy sources, solar and wind. Meaning, there is no costly or non-costly times for this surplus energy. In the new perspective, the surplus energy produced from local solar or wind sources would be wasted if it was not stored, so the Grothe Power Tower acts an an intermittent energy storage device for surplus renewable energy sources. When there is no longer a surplus of renewable energy (the sun isn't shining or the wind isn’t blowing), the stored energy is released on-demand from the Power Tower back into the local electrical grid. This greatly helps reduce or eliminate the more costly vs less costly energy production times by using these local renewable sources in conjunction with the local energy storage Power Towers.

There is an on/off cycle to these renewable sources that needs an energy storage solution in between the cycles to make them effective as total replacements for fossil fuel based electric generators. The Grothe Power Tower is in the right position at the right time to solve the renewable dilemma and make the cost effective transition to total renewable energy possible in our lifetime.

by PowerTower     +2

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C8: Which line in your picture is the H2 line? It appears that you are pumping against already pressurized gas. Would this not adversely effect efficiency? How much power do you expect the pump to use? Also, can you address the possible safety concerns of large amounts of hydrogen stored in residential areas?

by laura


R8: Hi Laura, thanks for your comments. We use red to indicate hydrogen and blue to indicate oxygen in our diagrams and schematics. (the power tower graphic has been highly simplified to be displayed on this project page) It helps to keep the many connections straight. In our Power Tower design we do NOT use mechanical pumps of any kind which would use up electrical energy (no moving mechanical parts, weights, gears, whirly jigs, lubrications etc.) that would make the system less efficient and require constant repair and maintenance from the friction of the moving parts. Instead we rely solely on hydrostatic water pressure in the water tower (gravity is our constant friend here. If this goes away I think we will have bigger problems than energy storage to worry about) to create a constant low back pressure on the gas chambers.

We are designing for less than 15psi at present to get the desired pressures we need to generate electricity from our fuelcell stacks. Which is roughly half the water pressure coming out of your avg household faucet. Very low pressures are being used in the Power Tower design meaning safer working margins to deal with in the residential areas. And the gases are intentionally separated and contained inside their own individual water jackets making them safe for placement in residential and local communities. We expect in our worse case scenario field test this summer, if financing comes forward, to build for a 24hr peak demand for an avg household. (see previous comments for more on this) Our research indicates that an avg household uses around 20kw-hr/day, but not all at once. Which should be more than adequate energy storage until the renewables pick up their generating cycles again.

As a backup energy source we plan to install these residential installations with the same net-metering smart devices as the solar panel installers have in place currently with the local utilities in almost every state in the US and in many parts of thw world. And this trend will continue as solar makes inroads into residential communities worldwide.

by PowerTower

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C9: Well done. Many of us may complain about communicating enough in 50 words, but you got the job done. Nice site - you are very clear about what you want to do and where you are. Best of luck.


Allison

by afriedman


R9: Thanks Allison for your support. We on the Grothe Power Tower team are focused in creating a sustainable energy storage device that can be ready for public use within two-three years, be cost effective for what it provides, easily understood by the general household user, and actually help offset if not reverse our global warming challenges. We're ready and posed to meet these challenges with good investments and grants to take the Power Tower off the prototype table and into the field for testing and further refinements.

by PowerTower

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C10: It sounds great to me, maybe it's also possible to build watertowers for a community, on a larger scale.  you got my support ;)

by Timelord


R10: Thanks for your support. These power towers would work great alongside the water towers already in place in most communities supplying stable, reliable on-demand electrical energy to the local community 24hrs a day when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing. Making them a sustainable energy storage solution for many generations to come as long as there is sunshine and wind to power the towers.

by PowerTower

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C11: Great idea. Substainable energy with out huge investments. Can be in a residential area.

by zks


R11: Yes indeed, an energy storage solution that can be safely built, tested, and placed rapidly into local communities in our lifetime, at an affordable price for each electrical demand either residential or local community. Providing tens of thousands of new Grothe Power Tower jobs and careers with a new job sector in energy storage technology.

by PowerTower     +1

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C12: So about how large would one of these have to be to power a house?

by wraith45     +2


R12: Good question, our research indicates that a typical US household uses on avg 20kw-hr/day of electrical energy. Using that as our baseline, the energy storage of one power tower for a 24hour continuous peak load would need to be 9.4ft in diameter by 21.8ft high. Of course households do not consume electricity at a constant peak load, but vary from low to high demand all day long, with a medium range being the final outcome, and thus your monthly electric bill varys with your monthly usage. Our final Power Tower design will be built with some flexibility in it, so we can install these with different household needs in mind. This first test size is our worse case scenario model of what's needed.

In our testing this year one of our goals if we can get the financing is to build a test model and use it in a real world field test on an avg household and see how it responds to the electrical needs of the household. We will be needing a few beta testers on these after that. Then into full production mode in a couple of years.

by PowerTower     +1

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C13: Seems to be a really fascinating idea! So am I understanding correctly that you will use the pressure of the water to help store enough hydrogen so that it can be converted back to electricity on demand when the sun isn't shining or there is no wind to produce other renewable energy? Also, wouldn't this idea work to provide energy during "peak" consumption times when the power companies charge more?

by wraith45


R13: Exactly right, these power towers are designed so they provide electrical power right when the solar and wind renewables are in their off cycle or when energy demand has peaked and needs very expensive supplemental generators to keep up with the need.

by PowerTower

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C14: Here's more details about this exciting new power tower project and lots more at the website including graphics and diagrams. A proposed new renewable energy storage device we would like to commercialize called a Grothe Power Tower, that is sustainable, scalable to any size electrical needs (homes, local communities, municipalities, commercial and industrial complexes), that meet utility grade performance standards, is environmentally safe, yet simple and cost effective to manufacture and duplicate having only three working components. A solid state advanced electrical device called a fuel cell that efficiently converts surplus electrical energy to a gas (produced from intermittent renewable energy devices like solar panels, solar roadways, or wind turbines), stores that gas (surplus energy) in a large secondary component similar to a water tower. This design is widely understood the world over with a long history of building, managing, maintaining, and ready acceptance by the public of its tried and true engineering principles. And converts stored gas using a fuel cell stack device back into an on-demand electrical grid load for use in homes and local communities at night, or rainy, windless days.

The entire energy storage system we’ve designed is highly cost effective and has no moving parts, thus wear and tear from mechanical friction or lubricants, bearings, gears, moving parts, etc. are not needed. We anticipate little to no replacement parts or maintenance for 15-20 years. The water towers are already a source of pride for many local communities and the minimal pressures used in the power tower make it safe to operate for long periods of time near or around residential homes, local communities, or municipalities. Vote for our project if you would like to see this idea in your local neighborhood.

by PowerTower     +3

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C15: How is the energy stored? Is it the potential energy of the water in the tower or the thermal energy of the water heated by the solar panels?

by Mera Gao Micro Grid Power


R15: Morning Bob, in answer to your question about using a water tower to pressurized the stored energy. The pressure to pump the hydrogen against the hydrostatic pressure in the tank is provided by a much smaller water tank supplying the “wet” side of the fuel cell from a slightly higher height. This provides more pressure on the supply side, which allows the hydrogen to pressurize the tank. The constrained volume of a tank is not what is providing the pressure. Instead, it is the height of the water column above the hydrogen tank provides the pressure.

The cost of fuel cells is currently approximately $35 per Watt, with lots of research and development work and grant money being used to bring this price down this year. For a 20 kW-h supply at current market value, the fuel cell stack cost would be approximately $42k. A large initial investment, for long-term payout over the life of the power tower which we estimate to be 20yrs. Think of it like this, for approximately the price of a nice luxury car you could park one of these Grothe Power Towers at your home for clean, reliable power, and even help power your neighbors during power outages or peak demand.

by PowerTower

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C16: I don't see why you use a water tower to maintain pressure. You have to pump the hydrogen in against that pressure, but any tank gives the same effect. The cost of fuel cells is also a big worry to me.

by Bob Stuart

 

R16: From what I read, the energy is stored as hydrogen which is contained and pressurized by the water pressure in the tower.

by wraith45

 

R16: The energy is stored as hydrogen in the power tower (similar in design to common water towers, using the natural hydrostatic pressure already present in the tower), until it is needed and then converted back into electricity for on-demand household use. We're very excited because all this can be accomplished without moving parts, bearings, or lubricants, making maintenance almost un-neccessary for many years of operation.

by PowerTower


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C17: The power tower is a good word, but this might require a lot of space for heat generation if it is passive way, can we get a little elaborated version...

by debeshbhattarai


R17: Thanks! The great thing about using fuelcells in these power towers is they generate some heat during energy production that can be captured and used to heat the home. Thus almost all the energy from the solar panels can used to support the home. So as the house is using the stored energy in the gas to generate electricity it is also heating the home increasing the total efficiency of the overall energy output of the system. Check out the website for more information concerning this.

by PowerTower


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C18: Why use a tower instead of a regular tank? How does this compare in cost and efficiency to pumped hydro power storage?

by Bob Stuart


R18: Pumped hydro-power storage utilizes the potential energy gained from a large volume of water pumped to a higher elevation and stored for later release through a generator. Using just the potential energy of elevated water, a sufficient amount of electricity for a home consumer would be difficult at a reasonable size. Using an equivalent amount of water from the Power Tower design (8750 gallons) and height (6.6 m), and a theoretical (but impossible) maximum potential energy recovery, this would only yield 0.6 kW-hr – not nearly enough to power a house for a full day.

In the case of the Power Tower, the water is there to provide safe storage by surrounding the gas tanks, and safe operating pressures. Here's the calculations for the power output for a comparable potential energy water tower
water density 1000 kg/m3
volume 33.1 m3
8750 gallons
mass 33122.61044 kg
height 6.6 m
g 9.81 m/s2
potential energy 2144556.536 joules
0.60 kW-hr

This is a much less energy return that using the Grothe Power Tower design where we expect to generate approx 20kw-hr in a 24 hour period. Making the Grothe Power Tower a workable energy storage solution for household use.

by PowerTower


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