Energy Cycle Efficiencies

A key criterion evaluated throughout this competition is the efficiency of energy cycles. We will measure the exergetic efficiency through the demonstrated lifecycles, as well as the energy round-trip efficiencies associated with each step. Where in the cycle are the innovation gaps that should get more attention from innovators?

Below are the general cycle stages, cycles may differ according to competing solutions:

  • Power → X (energy carrier)
  • X → storage unit
  • X in storage unit → X in storage unit post storage/transfer duration
  • X → conversion to electrification and/or combustion and/or heat generation

Hi @akb, @carlbozzuto, @rayw, @b0bbybaldi, @agval, @Magneto, @gyyang, @clabeaux, @SPSBadwal, @skunsman, @marcelschreier, @bernardsaw, @Paul, @KeithDPatch, @Jesse_Nyokabi, @darlenedamm - Based on the above mentioned energy lifecycle demonstration, according to you where are the innovation gaps?

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@Shashi I believe there is an opportunity on each and every single cycle suggested, it depends largely on the entire solution and case to better answer such query.

From what I am imagining, which is the synergistic application of internet technology to our antiquated electrical infrastructure, I believe the most accurate measurement of efficiency to be:

  • X in storage unit → X in storage unit post storage/transfer duration

Building off of Shashi’s comment in terms of comparing the electrical infrastructure to the internet, it might also be important to look at how all the pieces work together. For example, does it make sense to have a lot of tiny storage units all over the place or several larger storage units? And how does this change or not change as our built environment becomes more fluid? Say for example, when self-driving electric cars become common, will people leave behind houses and instead live in fancy moving houses/cars? That is a bit of a far-fetched example, but I think its important to look at each component of the cycle, but also think about how it might work in the world 10 years from now (assuming we are building for the long-term.)


Agreed :+1: really good points @darlenedamm, it is important to think long term for energy solutions.


Thanks @b0bbybaldi and @darlenedamm for sharing your thoughts. I agree teams need to look at long term solutions and also be able to scale it in future.

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Hi @cananacar, @RicardoChacartegui, @Cemalbasaran, @AnthonyMburu, @aphhuang, @fezzani, @Febbie, @anis, @Shepard, @grhoffman7 - What is your take on the innovations gaps in the demonstrated cycle.

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A lot need to be considered in this discussion. I would recommend further reading from this document:

The efficiency of the storage and utilization of energy is vital for achieving the desired results.

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Agree with you @darlenedamm. We need to see into the future as we deliberate on future of energy

Thanks Jesse for sharing the document!

My take is a little different because working in the power industry has taught me that a blackout, small or large scale, will have large impact to consumers and industry and if we move towards electrification, energy storage devices are likely not to be robust solutions if there is a fault on the Grid. While wind, solar and other DER resources will continue to be important, we cannot completely depend on these sources of generation. I happen to like large rotating machines that are more effective in handling faults on the grid. Therefore, I advocate fuels such as Hydrogen and redesigned safe and effective nuclear reactors, pump storage, geothermal, and hydro that spin a generator to produce power.


I am an advocate for the Circular Carbon Economy. I believe in renewable hydrocarbons.

I haven’t selected a specific molecule or blend of molecules, but for this discussion, let’s consider propane/heptane as the energy carrier. I am specifically working on the synthesis of hydrocarbons such as propane/heptane using renewable electricity and biologically derived technologies. I expect good thermodynamic results for step 1 someday.
Power ==> propane/heptane.
Storage and transport (steps 2 and 3) are largely compatible with existing infrastructure.

Step 4 as combustion is clearly compatible with today’s infrastructure. To avoid the many negative effects of hydrocarbon combustion, I recommend research into hydrocarbon fuel cells which will produce electricity from propane/heptane.

I think the round trip energy lifecycle must give careful consideration to net thermodynamic efficiencies.

I also think storage is also a very important consideration. In our existing system (the United States), we have hydrocarbon storage everywhere. Tanks, trains, pipelines and the wells themselves. We also have the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) which contains a tremendous amount of energy.

I don’t see the battery equivalent or the hydrogen equivalent to the SPR ever existing.

The energy density of hydrocarbons for storage and transport is of proven value. I have not seen an effective alternative to hydrocarbons.

Where in the cycle are the innovation gaps that should get more attention from innovators?

I advocate for increased research into the renewable synthesis of hydrocarbons using renewable electricity. This should be complimented by research to create fuel cells from propane and heptane.


Thanks @Jesse_Nyokabi, @grhoffman7 and @mikelandmeier for sharing your thoughts. Very insightful. We have taken a note of all the points.

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Hi @CloudWater, @SonyaD, @Mahmoudburai, @Simon, @Access600, @adventureashr, @mattymatt, @curranc, @Ali - Where do you see innovation gaps in the above demonstration of energy cycles.

The main energy cycle on Earth is the water cycle in nature. It is a half of the Sun’s energy reaching the earth. And this cycle directly gives us ~ 50 times more power than humanity needs, more or less evenly distributed over the planet in the form of clouds. Just use the AirHES technology and all energy, water and climatic problems will be solved in 10-15 years!

Hi @MarianoMM, @lixianfeng, @liangxu, @Zita, @RicardoChacartegui, @paolo_mattavelli, @honghong, @crointel - Based on the above mentioned energy lifecycle demonstration, according to you where are the innovation gaps?

Thank you @grhoffman7. We will need to see beyond what is conventionally accepted.

@grhoffman7, am considering redesigning geothermal, hydro and pump storage. Already working on geothermal which is my main research area. The essence is offering spinning reserve and ancillary services to the grid especially for grid with higher percentage of intermittent renewable energy.

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You hit the nail on the head! Spinning reserves is important to any strategy going forward. Renewables are here to stay, but they will always face the challenge not only of intermittent service but mainly because they will not always be able to ride through a significant system disturbance that may potential take down part of the Grid.

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More resiliency will have to be designed into or added to any and all of the systems mentioned. That applies to power generation, storage, transmission, distribution, distributed energy, heat generation, transportation, and cyber security. Typically, resiliency comes in the form of back ups to the various parts of the system. For example, in steam turbine design, more than two failures have to occur to allow liquid water to get into a spinning turbine. If one device fails, there is a back up that also has to fail to let liquid water into the turbine. Similar thinking needs to be done to address the entire energy system.