Emerging Energy Technologies
Widening consumer understanding of beneficial electrification is creating a groundswell of interest in everything from electric vehicles to induction stoves. Among the appliances getting particular attention are heat pumps, which can efficiently condition a space by transferring heat or cold from the air or ground. They're not a new technology, but recent advances have made them even more efficient, versatile and easier to install.
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Home energy storage devices store electricity locally, for later consumption. Electrochemical energy storage products, also known as "Battery Energy Storage System" (or "BESS" for short), at their heart are rechargeable batteries, typically based on lithium-ion or lead-acid controlled by computer with intelligent software to handle charging and discharging cycles. Companies are also developing smaller flow battery technology for home use. As a local energy storage technologies for home use, they are smaller relatives of battery-based grid energy storage and support the concept of distributed generation. When paired with on-site generation, they can virtually eliminate blackouts in an off-the-grid lifestyle.
A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of a fuel (often hydrogen) and an oxidizing agent (often oxygen) into electricity through a pair of redox reactions. Fuel cells are different from most batteries in requiring a continuous source of fuel and oxygen (usually from air) to sustain the chemical reaction, whereas in a battery the chemical energy usually comes from substances that are already present in the battery. Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously for as long as fuel and oxygen are supplied.
Nuclear power has been established for decades, but it is listed here due to the increasing interest lately in clean energy. Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions to produce electricity. Nuclear power can be obtained from nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion reactions. Presently, the vast majority of electricity from nuclear power is produced by nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear power plants. Nuclear decay processes are used in niche applications such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators in some space probes such as Voyager 2. Generating electricity from fusion power remains the focus of international research.