Capturing wind and solar energy to create electricity is a key element in the national goal of becoming less dependent on fossil fuels.
But what happens when clouds obscure the sun or the wind is not strong enough to blow out a candle? How can the peaks and valleys of variable output be controlled to create a steady stream of reliable energy?
EaglePicher Technologies, a Joplin-based manufacturer of batteries for space, military and medical applications, has come up with a solution to that problem. On Friday, the company unveiled the PowerPyramid — a hybrid battery that combines old and new technology to form a cell that fits inside a portable cargo container.
“We are here to acknowledge and participate in the start of a new chapter in the story of the energy industry in the United States and the world,’’ said Randy Moore, president of EaglePicher Technologies.
“The ability to store electricity on a mass scale solves a number of problems for our energy future,’’ he said. “For the problem of alternative energy stabilization, when the wind stops blowing or clouds pass across the sky, mass storage fills in the gaps caused by the intermittency or unreliability of alternative energy.’’
The PowerPyramid involves three chemistries to optimize the life of the battery. One layer is lithium ion, a newer and more expensive technology. Three layers are of tubular lead acid and six layers are of lead acid, one of the least expensive and older battery chemistries on the market today.
To test the battery’s operating platform and controls, EaglePicher is utilizing one 10 kilowatt wind turbine and 20 kilowatts of solar generating capacity at its manufacturing site in the Crossroads Industrial Park.