Have you ever been shivering in the middle of winter and found yourself daydreaming about the hot days of summer? Well according to researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA), you may soon be able to use that summer heat to keep yourself warm during the winter.
EMPA researchers have developed a new technology that uses the sodium hydroxide (NaOH), commonly known as lye, to store heat and use it at a later time. When the dry chemical is exposed to water, it produces heat. And when this combination is exposed to sunlight, the sun will evaporate the water and leave behind the dry chemical so that it can produce a reaction all over again.
Because the lye is stable, it can be stored up to several years for use at a later time (so long as it doesn’t come into contact with water). The technology that’s paired with it helps ensure its safe containment (after all, lye is a corrosive material) and makes sure it loses minimal heat. In addition, it optimizes it so that it can be used safely in the home’s heating system.
While the technology has been developed, the home heating process is still being perfected. Right now, a heat storage system has been in place for several months and is undergoing testing at EMPA. So far, it’s working reliably and is able to store enough energy to heat an entire house, which means we could soon see a whole new way to warm our homes in the winter.