Michigan energy systems company, Sesame Solar, announced the new 100% renewable mobile Nanogrid. This development will be the world’s first of its kind. Before this evolution, energy was supplied for emergencies by transporting fossil fuel generators on site.
Sesame CEO Lauren Flanagan said, ‘While we can’t stop hurricanes or wildfires from happening, we can create solutions that help communities recover efficiently without causing further damage to the environment.’
These nanogrids come in the shape of either a dual-axle trailer or an ISO shipping container and have different sizes ranging from 10 to 40 feet (3 to 12m long). The size and shape will make it possible to transport energy in ships, cargo planes, helicopters, trains, trucks, or a forklift during emergencies swiftly. It has a large truck interior for multi-use scenarios, including a mobile clinic, remote military operations, mobile retail pop-up, and office or an emergency response center. The exterior can be folded into benches and desks. It can also power water purification and filtration systems to deliver clean water; keep critical communication systems running in case of Wi-Fi failure; and charge electric trucks, e-bikes, and e-scooters.
What Is the Sesame’s Solar Nanogrid Made of?
The nanogrid is built in a way that permits non-experts to use it. In less than 15 minutes, one person can set up the solar nanogrid to begin supplying reliable renewable energy. It generates clean off-grid power using solar energy and green hydrogen. It works on solar energy generation and hydrogen fuel cell batteries.
‘We are the first to market with green hydrogen. We make the hydrogen gas from solar power through water electrolysis and store it to fuel a hydrogen fuel cell.’ Flanagan said, saying that earlier versions made use of solar power and battery.
The solar panels are retractable and are exposed by unfolding. A typical unit holds about 50 gallons of water. The solar energy powers electrolyzers in the nanogrids to produce hydrogen gas by decomposing water. The green hydrogen gas is stored in solid-state storage tanks outside the nanogrids at low pressure. When the tanks are full, electrolysis stops, and solar charges the batteries. When there is no sun, solar power cannot charge the batteries causing them to drop. When the batteries get to 35%, the hydrogen fuel cell begins to recharge them using the stored green hydrogen, and when fully charged, the hydrogen fuel cell shuts off. It thereby provides a clean loop of solar energy and hydrogen fuel cell usage. Oxygen gas which is a by-product is safely vented. The solar panels can generate between 3 to 20kW, while the battery capacity ranges between 15 to 150kWh. The solar charging operates between 32 and 120F (0 to 49C) while the batteries discharge between -4 and 140F (-20 to 60C).
Flanagan remarked that the nanogrids have been tested to support the island of Dominica to run a mobile clinic during Hurricane Maria and Comcast to support communication recovery after Hurricane Ida. The US Air Force and other major telecommunication companies have also used nanogrids. The average cost is $150,000, which would last for up to 20 years.
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