Where could I write to find out about the Energy Rod by Certified Energy Systems of California? Since this energy-storage unit is a eutectic salt which changes phase at 81 degrees F., would it be effective in the more nothern latitudes of the US?
* Has RCA developed a new type of solar energy storage unit and willit soon be marketed? Dr. Frank C. Koranda Hastings, Neb.
The Energy Rod, developed by Certified Energy Systems, 24147 Juanita Street, San Jacinto, Calif. 92383, has been in production since July 1979.
It is designed to absorb excess or free heat, says the company, and then slowly release the heat as needed. It is NOT intended to replace a present heating system. Rather, it may reduce the amount of purchased heat.
The high-density polyethylene Energy Rod will capture heat from the sun, a fireplace, or any other source. It can absorb 82 Btu of heat per pound of formula as it goes from a crystal to a liquid at 81 degrees F., as you point out. What this means is that a large-size rod can store about 3,000 Btu when fully charged.
"This is not enough heat to keep a room warm in the northern climates," the company warns.
"If your home loses heat from poor windows, poor insulation, poor weatherstripping, or other problems, the Energy Rod cannot make up the loss," the company says. "The better weatherized your home, the better job the Energy Rod will do."
Because they require little floor space, says the company, systems with up to 40 rods can be installed against a wall -- or you can buy a number of the smaller rods and move them from place to place on a stand. available in 1-to 6 -foot lengths, they retail from $14.95 to $39.95 apiece. Storage racks are available from $39.95 and are designed to hold from three to five short rods.
A 1-foot rod weighs 6 pounds; a 6-foot rod 32 pounds.
* As for RCA, the company is indeed researching a new energy-storage system. "We have developed an idea but nothing that can be marketed right now," says Dr. Richard Williams of the RCA research Laboratory.
"We considered all the ways of storing energy," he adds.
"What we found was that the most compact and convenient form of energy storage is something like gasoline." It takes about 100 cubic centimeters, or one teacup, of gasoline in order to get one kilowatt-hour of power. "So gasoline is an enormously compact source," notes Dr. Williams.
"So we tried to do something that would imitate the use of gasoline," he continues. "We saw that a cheap and abundant fuel is carbon dioxide. It can be electrochemically reduced at an electrode to make organic compounds, and the simplest one is formic acid.
"It can be used either for combustion or in a fuel cell."
The RCA researcher says the lab made a lot of experience indicating what the energy yield would be and how one could use it in various ways.
"Our concept was that we could take carbon dioxide from some source, use the electrical energy from the solar cells during their on-cycle to produce this organic material, and then store it as any other fuel. It could also be used as a raw material or in other ways," he reported.