One other way to think of the number of shipping containers needed: actually the average american home uses 30 kwh/day. At our target energy density and efficiency we've been attempting to reach 30 kwh per m^3. 1 m^3 is approximately the internal volume of a refrigerator. So each home gets 1 fridge worth of storage. Not so bad ;-)
Being within an order of magnitude is absolutely fantastic for a quick set of calcs with unverified data pulled out of various 'net sites!
So, about 6,000psi for 1m^3 ?
I was just looking at this:
Their NUVT6000 tanks will do it. Specs:
Outside diameter: 9.4in
Weight (empty): 195lbs.
Air capacity at pressure: 510.5 ft^3
Internal volume: 2640 in^3
To double check, the internal volume of these tanks is given at 2640 in^3. 25 tanks come in at 66,000 in^3, which is just over 1 m^3.
What this highlights for me is just how large a vessel might be required to store such a volume of air at 6,000psi due to how strong it has to be. The external volume of these 25 tanks is approximately 1.5 m^3. Not too bad. We are taking about a 5 x 5 tank layout; about 4 ft x 4 ft and, say, 6 ft high with hoses, fittings and other hardware. They would weigh-in at about 5,000lbs, which might require some accommodations for a typical home garage.
Do these numbers describe what you are trying to accomplish to a reasonable approximation?
How noisy is the process of getting the energy back out of this storage system?
I had to look at a comparison with the energy density of current Lithium-Ion batteries:
Volumetric energy density: 900 to 1,900 J/cm^3
If I assume 1,000 J/cm^3, that would require about 108,000 cm^3 in Lithium-Ion batteries or 0.108 m^3. Yikes! On first inspection, a 1 m^3 bank of Lithium-Ion batteries would allow you to run a house for ten days!
Not sure what that conclusion means, but Lithium-Ion, cost and other issues aside, looks very interesting.
How about gasoline? I know, horrible, but I have to ask.
Volumetric energy density: 34,000,000,000 J/m^3
I won't do the numbers, but Liquid Propane looks very interesting.
Clearly your long term competition might very well be electrochemical battery or graphene supercapacitor technology.
I realize you are working on a method to be used in storing excess energy for later delivery (or smoothing out the spikes in infrastructure demands). If I was looking for emergency power backup today I think I might have a very serious look at Liquid Propane. I has none of the storage problems of gasoline (namely that it degrades if not attended to) and it is very easy to use for cooking as well as lighting, if required.
Would I want every house in my neighborhood to have LP tanks, gasoline tanks, compressed air tanks or huge banks of Lithium-Ion batteries? Probably not.
All of these options are scary in one way or another. Imagine Hurricane Sandy, Katrina or a good size earthquake here in CA in a scenario where every home has one of these technologies. Could get scary very fast.
Same issues as with electric cars. Very interesting until you have an incident involving several cars. Formula 1 teams had to make special accommodations to use their electrical KERS systems, some of which run at 375V.
Because of this I would think that your technology (or any other high-duration, high energy-density storage solution) might be best deployed at the substation or generation point rather than installed in every home. Most people are not really equipped to intelligently deal with electricity. Sometimes it is a good idea for power to go out.
We aim for it not to be noisy -- any noise from high pressure air rushing out represents wasted energy. Sonic booms from exhaust have this problem in automobile engines, we avoid it.
Lithium ion is indeed much more dense :-)
Consider that every car has a gasoline tank, many houses have fuel oil, and we undergird our streets with natural gas pipes, which burned down San Francisco. I submit that air has its safety issues, but that most of these can be avoided, and in particular, chain reactions, which threaten flammable energy storage, can be made a non-issue.
Just guessing that this could be a gating issue once you have something to deploy. People can be irrational, even when faced with facts. I know people that will not go into the water at the beach for fear of being attacked by a shark. Yet, the same people don't think twice about getting into their cars in the morning and driving on Los Angeles freeways.
Here industrial design might be the key. If the unit looks, almost literally, like the typical freezer or refrigerator lots of people have in their garage it might mitigate irrational first impressions.
Good luck! I'll keep an eye on developments.
There's a reason most (recreational) scuba tanks stop around 3000 - 3500 PSI max working pressure: you fairly quickly stop getting linear gains, at the expense of additional tank wall thickness and stronger valves required.
Edit: Nevermind, it appears that 4500 PSI/300 BAR is semi-standard in Compressed Air Powered cars, so I guess there is value in going to that pressure (storage density I guess).