Chapter 3Conversion and Storage

Energy storage is a growing issue in our society. Fossil fuel resources such as petroleum are becoming not only more scarce in some areas but also increasingly inaccessible and costly. Most nations are now addressing the possibilities of providing energy in as many forms possible from sources other than fossil fuel. Petroleum products have largely been responsible for the immense progress made in Western society. Since the beginning of the 20th century, petroleum products have enabled the development of railroads, aircraft propulsion, and large ocean-traversing vessels, as well as the automobile. As far as we know now, there is no other equivalent source of energy in the form of combustible fuel, except perhaps for alcohol (ethanol). However, we are rapidly realizing that alcohol is not a practical solution to the greatly increasing demands for portable world energy.

Here, we will briefly review the role and merits of many competitive mechanisms available for secondary energy sources, ranging from compressed air and fly-wheels to electrochemical cells. Electrochemical cells still appear to be the most promising method of storing energy, which is probably the principal reason for its attractiveness. There are many practical considerations involved in selecting one means or another to store energy for use over time. Among these factors, perhaps cost is the most critical. Considerations such as safety, availability, life, dependability, cost, etc., ...

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