Engineers from Newcastle University have come up with a surprising new energy storage system that revolves around storing heat in bricks like chocolate chips melted in muffins. < / P > < p > renewable energy is a key component of any plan to reduce the impact on the planet, but storage remains a major obstacle to making these systems viable. Recent solutions include Tesla’s giant lithium-ion batteries, or storage of energy in unconventional forms, such as molten salt or silicon, heavy rail cars on steep slopes, and huge blocks suspended in mines or stacked on towers. < / P > < p > and now there’s a new entry on the list – mixed gap alloy (MGA) bricks. The bricks, which are only 30 x 20 x 16 cm (11.8 x 7.9 x 6.3 in.) in size, are made of materials with high thermal conductivity, so they can be easily heated to store energy and cooled when needed to release energy again. < / P > < p > to do this effectively, these bricks are made up of two main parts. There is a solid matrix, which is held together in the shape of a brick, and the whole matrix is embedded with molten particles. The team described the design as something like a chocolate chip in a muffin. < / P > < p > “imagine that the substrate is part of the cake, which maintains all shape when heated and distributes the heat quickly,” said mark copus, the project’s engineer. “Other particles, represented by chocolate chips, melt and store heat through the solid to liquid phase.” < / P > < p > the idea is that these mga blocks can be heated with excess energy from renewable energy during peak output periods and stored for use during peak demand periods. Alternatively, they can be stacked in other power plants to help recover waste heat into the system. < / P > < p > the heat they release can be used to overheat water into steam to run a turbine without burning coal. This means that the MGA block can be retrofitted into decommissioned or decommissioned coal-fired power plants to smooth the transition to renewable energy. As an incentive, it also eliminates the need to build new facilities or decommissioning old ones, without upgrading the grid infrastructure. < / P > < p > “emissions from coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of greenhouse gases leading to global warming,” said Professor Erich KISI, co-founder of MGA thermal. “Transforming coal-fired power plants is a win-win approach, providing clean base load power and helping to prevent job losses caused by plant closures.” < / P > < p > the team says the MGA block has a number of other advantages. The system can be easily expanded by adding extra blocks, potentially storing up to several gigawatt hours of energy, and they are made of cheap and rich materials, so their cost is obviously 10% of the price of a lithium battery of the same size, and it is reported that they can still output the same energy. These materials are also non-toxic and do not pose a risk of explosion or leakage of hazardous chemicals. < / P > < p > mga thermal is building a manufacturing plant in New South Wales to scale up the production scale of the battery blocks to a commercial level and, in collaboration with Swiss e2s power AG, has begun to design a system to reuse coal-fired power plants in Europe to use new cells. Spontaneous combustion at a Guangzhou Motor vehicle intersection and other traffic lights in Shenzhen