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Even batteries are bigger in Texas

June 9th, 2010 by Gene
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We like to say everything’s bigger in Texas. Some things really are. Batteries. BIG batteries. Today, on Engineering Works.

This story of batteries starts in the West Texas town of Presidio, on the banks of the Rio Grande. Presidio is one of those West Texas towns that’s pretty far away from just about everything. It gets its electric power over one aging transmission line. 60-miles, across the rugged Davis Mountains from the equally small town of Marfa. Now and then, when storms blow through, that transmission line fails and Presidio goes dark. Even when the power’s on, current fluctuations knock computers offline and interfere with electrical appliances.

So the town got together with the electric transmission authorities and got a battery. A big one. Eighty 8,000-pound modules that store four megawatts of electricity. Enough to power the town for eight hours. The system also features sensors and switches to respond almost instantly to current fluctuations in addition to outages. This battery uses a little-known sodium-sulfur storage technology instead of better known systems like lithium-ion batteries.

The installation in Presidio is the fourth big battery system like it in the United States. If they work out, they may point the way toward large-scale storage that could even out the electrical highs and lows in a future power system that depends more on wind and solar energy than now.

Our battery is topped off, so we’re going to plug in and head out. See you next time.

Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web.

http://engineeringworks.tamu.edu

Learn more:

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-4/texas-town-turns-monster-battery-backup-power

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/03/100325-presidio-texas-battery/

http://www.ettexas.com/projects/docs/NaS_Battery_Overview.pdf

3 Responses to “Even batteries are bigger in Texas”

  1. Alan says:

    Wow! Does using these batteries can help save energy and money?

  2. Gene says:

    The important part, as far as the folks in Presidio are concerned, is that it gives them a consistent source of power, without interruptions. When you’re at the far end of a single line connection to the grid, that can be important.

  3. [...] We like to say everything’s bigger in Texas. Some things really are. Batteries. BIG batteries. Today, on Engineering Works. Listen to the podcast [...]

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