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A breakthrough discovery made by engineers at the University of Missouri may bring a revolution to the world of energy generation and storage.
Storing large quantities of energy in an efficient and cheap way is one of the greatest obstacles facing the widespread adoption of utility-scale renewable energy. Batteries are often the most common solution but despite the advances over recent years they still remain expensive and inefficient.
The team of engineers at the University of Missouri have designed a way to create, and control, plasma in the atmosphere, which they claim could have far reaching implications for generating and storing energy.
Related article: Have Canadian Researchers Cracked How to Store Renewable Energy?
Plasma is the fourth, somewhat rather less well known, state of matter after solid, liquid, and gas. It is effectively an ionised gas, and those additional, positive ions make plasmas highly conductive to electricity. Fire and lightening are common forms of plasma experienced on earth, and the sun is one giant ball of plasma.
Randy Curry, the professor of electrical and computer engineering in the University of Missouri's College of Engineering, explained that “creating plasma in a vacuum tube surrounded by powerful electromagnets is no big deal; dozens of labs can do that. Our innovation allows the plasma to hold itself together while it travels through regular air without any need for containment. Launching plasma in open air is the 'Holy Grail' in the field of physics.”
Randy Curry demonstrates the method by which his team can create the plasma in this video.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com