There isn’t much to write about the issues involved in living ‘off-grid’ that our tech man Steven Harris didn’t cover off in his pretty awesome blog back in March last year. All in all, it’s a complex area, filled with issues about energy storage and alternative generators – but there are new innovations that intend to make the whole gig somewhat easier.
First up, the water-powered phone charger. We’d be the first to admit that the Daily Mail got to this one, er, first, but nonetheless, it’s a mouth-watering, or should we say phone-watering concept. Sorry.
We did suggest this might suit the adventurous type, and there’s no fear for the mucky here – saline and puddle water will do, if you must. It’s all a chemistry matter: water versus sodium silicide equals hydrogen fuel cell, more or less.
But here’s the punchline – it doesn’t come cheap. 199 Euros a pop at the minute, to be precise, but as with any ‘new to market’ technologies, once it’s piqued a few people’s interest, then a few more, then a few more, the price starts to incrementally decrease.
From the North Sea wing of the UK to the Irish sea in search of off-grid ideas. Electrical energy in liquid form is the aim of the game for a company called Red-T, who say the long electrical storage times for their ‘flow battery’ could be a godsend to those in remote locations – particularly for those using solar PV.
It’s all about holding on to the electricity you generate for when it’s needed, and in this case it’s achieved through a vanadium electrolyte which transports electrons through the cell.
In an interview with the Engineer magazine, the chief exec of the company John Ward expands:
“Once the sun sets, you would then draw off the Red-T system for your power requirements. So, for this system, you would have a completely standalone power system off grid. At one cycle day, the battery would have 365 charges a year, so it would last for 18 years.”
Not having had our Technologies team here test those claims, we’ll have to take John at his word for the time being, but what’s clear from developments like this pair is that off-grid is becoming more of a mainstream concern for the tech-minded, and what’s more, companies are willing to put their research and development budgets where their mouths are.