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New technology harnesses power of ice to scale up clean energy storage: '[It] will cost half as much as lithium-ion'

"Have you ever heard of anything safer, cleaner, and more eco-friendly than water or ice?"

“Have you ever heard of anything safer, cleaner, and more eco-friendly than water or ice?”

Photo Credit: Nostromo

One solution to planet overheating may come from a fairly obvious source: ice

Israel-based Nostromo has developed an IceBrick energy storage system that its experts said can cool buildings more cleanly and at lower cost than traditional air conditioners

The problem is that those air coolers are power-hungry. In the U.S., the Energy Information Administration reported that about 10% of the electricity Americans used went to cooling last year. What's more, about 40% of peak demand is used by ACs, according to a Nostromo video

IceBrick tackles energy storage and cooling in one system. The customizable units, shown in the clip on a commercial building's roof, can freeze water in numerous cells during prime solar-energy production hours. 

When the sun goes down, water is circulated past the ice, cooling it. The water is then piped through the building, providing AC during those crucial, peak-demand hours when the grid can be strained, per Nostromo. 

Company experts call the demand curve, which peaks at about 9 p.m., a "duck curve," because the chart showing the usage trend resembles the shape of a waterfowl. 

And they aren't quacks. It's a curve that U.S. Energy Department officials are also working to flatten. Nostromo said electric grid operators even plan power supply based on the ducky usage pattern. 

The IceBricks can be custom-built per structure. A 192-capsule unit has 89 gallons of water/ice, weighing 1,720 pounds when filled, per the unit's specs. A cloud-based management system is billed by the company as an advanced way to manage the units. 

And since the system provides renewable-based AC without tapping into the dirty energy-based power grid, it reduces air pollution in the process, the company claims

Nostromo founder Yaron Ben Nun also touted the fact that IceBrick is lithium-free, per a CleanTechnica report. 

"We … have developed a system that will cost half as much as Li-ion systems and won't be using any rare or poisonous materials," he said

The IceBrick solution is 70% water and 30% ethylene/propylene glycol. The latter substance is common in HVAC systems and even fog machines, Britannica notes. Ethylene is often used to make resins and plastics. It has "historically" been made from petroleum and natural gas, according to the University of South Carolina. 

Nostromo experts said the water-based solution doesn't degrade in the process, allowing it to be frozen and thawed repeatedly for "centuries," per the clip. 

The company also has proof-of-concept on its side. The Beverly Hilton and the Waldorf Astoria in California have IceBricks. CleanTechnica reported that Nostromo expects the hotels to cut their cooling costs in half. Nostromo is also working with the DOE to install more systems in California. 

Large-scale adoption of IceBrick tech is part of the complete transition to renewable energy, "cooling global warming," Nostromo claims. It's an important effort as the planet continues to set heat records

"Have you ever heard of anything safer, cleaner, and more eco-friendly than water or ice?" the video clip's narrator asks

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