X, the ‘moonshot’ division of Google's parent company Alphabet, is working on a new project – Malta – with an aim to store renewable energy on a large scale using molten salt and cold antifreeze.
Malta project is based on the work and the idea of the Nobel prize-winning Stanford physics professor Robert Laughlin.
Laughlin’s energy storage model takes in wind and solar energy in the form of electricity and uses salt to store it as thermal energy by utilizing high and low temperatures at the same time.
X claims that inexpensive components such as steel tanks, air and cooling liquids make the Malta energy storage system viable from both the environmental and cost perspectives.
The energy storage system is long-lasting as the salt tanks can be charged and re-charged for possibly up to 40 years and is easy to expand with the addition of more tanks of salt and tanks of cold liquid.
In addition, as the Malta system is not dependent on particular weather or specific locations, it can be positioned close to the renewable energy source or near where there is high demand on the electric grid.
According to X, energy stored in salt can be kept for days or even weeks, until it is needed.
The Malta team is set to build a megawatt-scale prototype plant to test commercial viability.
The company is also looking for partners with the expertise to build, operate and connect the prototype to the grid.