Power Grid With Compressed Air?

Danielle Fong is the chief scientist and co-founder of a company called LightSail Energy. Based in Berkeley, California, this tiny startup is built on an idea that???s as unorthodox as Fong???s education. LightSail aims to store the world???s excess energy in giant tanks of compressed air. The goal is to plug these tanks into wind and solar farms, so that they can squirrel away energy for times when it???s most needed, much like reservoirs store rain water. The wind and the sun are prime sources of renewable energy, but they generate power unpredictably. LightSail???s compressed air tanks, Fong and company say, will make the power grid that much more efficient ??? and ultimately make the world a greener place.

In 2010, Danielle Fong and LightSail took their compressed air storage idea to the U.S. Department of Energy???s Advanced Research Projects Agency, seeking a grant for their work. The agency turned them away, saying she and her team were unfit to manage a company, that the idea wouldn???t work anyway, and that her air tanks would likely explode. But like her mother, Danielle didn???t listen. Backed by $15 million in funding from green-minded venture capital outfit Kholsa Partners and with a team of 32 employees, LightSail is pushing ahead with its plan to reinvent the power grid. Fong believes the potential market for compressed air tanks will exceed $1 trillion over the next 20 years.

Reinventing the power grid using giant tanks of compressed air – wow!

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About Matthew Peterworth

I currently work as a Technology Specialist at Henderson Engineers in Kansas City – a Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing (MEP) design firm. Prior to that I was a Project Manager for Information Technology Services (ITS), the central IT department at the University of Texas at Austin. As of July 2008 I am a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) through BICSI. And as of June 2011 I am a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in the great state of Texas. Please follow me on Twitter @mpeterworth. https://twitter.com/mpeterworth

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