Kids These Days

At the age of 21, Danielle Fong cofounded LightSail Energy, a venture focused on energy storage via compressed air, with heat generated by the compression recovered for later use. Investors include Peter Thiel, Khosla Ventures, and Bill Gates. (GE and RWE of Germany are also developing a compressed-air-based energy storage technology that they call ADELE…it will be interesting to see how these two alternative approaches play out.)

A New York University student has developed a new substance for wound closure, which may be able to replace bandages in many cases. Any comments, Michael K?


6 thoughts on “Kids These Days”

  1. The army has been using something similar for years to stop bleeding in liver wounds. One problem with stopping bleeding this way is the possibility of stopping it somewhere nearby, like the heart, where you don’t want it to stop.

    Also, he’s not the first:

    J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012 Nov;73(5):1180-7. doi:

    Initial evaluation of a nano-engineered hemostatic agent in a severe vascular and
    organ hemorrhage swine model.

    Arnaud F, Okada T, Solomon D, Haque A, Carroll EE, Sagini E, McCarron R.

    Department of NeuroTrauma, Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, Maryland
    20910-7500, USA.

    OBJECTIVES: An advanced hemostatic dressing, Rapid Trauma Hemostat (RTH), was
    developed using nano-engineered inorganic nanofibers with hemostatic surface

  2. I have doubts that her concept will work as advertised as it is scaled up. It is another attempt to make the so-called “green” electricity generators competitive, which will also not happen given the very poor capacity factors and the low energy density of sunlight and wind. Her assumption of $7/mmbtu natural gas is too pessimistic.

    OTOH, the GE/RWE concept of using compressed air to bypass the compressor stage of a gas turbine has been proven to work. Using off peak electricty to compress air in an underground salt cavern and then using this compressed air in a gas turbine to bypass the compressor during peak usage times does increase generation without needing another peaker plant (aka CAES). probably the only reason this is not in widespread use is the cost of building the storage facility does not have a reasonable payback time. I know a small demonstrator project was built in Germany in 1978 and I believe is still in operation. Another one was built in Alabama in the 1990’s and is also still in operation. A couple of smaller scale projects have improved the thermal efficiency and have lead to the ADELE project in Germany and another one planned to start up in 2016 in Texas.

  3. I don’t think LightSail is focused entirely on the rainbow-powered unicorn niche…they also talk about grid storage near point-of-use, which could involve power from conventional sources. Peter Thiel’s presence as an investor tends to add some credibility that there’s something more than green hype here.

  4. Here’s a piece that looks at the economics of electricity storage. Surprisingly (for some), grid-level electric storage investments favor coal and nuclear as sources. Intermittent, high cost generation sources like wind and solar are disadvantaged.

    Compressed air storage can work thermodynamically but hasn’t worked economically. It just is a way to move natural gas consumption off-peak. It consumes gas to pump up the air reservoir at night but still consumes gas when in discharge mode back to the grid during electricity supply to the grid.

    Of course, no details on why it would work so much better this time. Call me skeptical.

  5. The only workable compressed air storage projects that seem to have any economic advantage are those used to bypass the gas turbine compressor during peak usage times allowing the GT set to generate more electricity instead of using that part of the shaft power to run a compressor for combustion air.

  6. If these people learned how to make money lighting their farts they’d have a better chance of making any money off of “air” without endless Federal subsidies.

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