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I Possible to Store Energy in Ionized Gas?

  1. Jul 30, 2017 #1
    How plausible would it be to store energy in the form of ionized gas? The idea is that a gas (I am assuming a noble gas would work best) would be ionized so that some outer electrons are removed from the atoms and then a positively charged Van de Graaff generator (or something that can fulfill the same function) would drain the electrons. My guess is that this would leave a gas with positively charged atoms as the loose electrons would be removed. Am I correct so far in my reasoning?

    Then if an electrode in the ionized gas links it to ground or another source of electrons, wouldn't there be current flow in a wire connecting the electrode and ground? I curious to know if I am missing anything fundamental that would prohibit this from working and your thoughts on it (such as maybe it would be totally energy inefficient or something).

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2017 #2


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    I think you are correct, but the ionised gas will contain relatively few atoms if collisions are to be avoided, so the capacity (capacitance) will be very small. Why not use a metal as your store of charge, as it already contains a vast number of free electrons which can be pumped out. In fact, how about the V de G sphere?
  4. Jul 31, 2017 #3
    What would be the problem with having collisions within the ionized gas?

    I was thinking that to increase the possible capacity of the gas it could be compressed to add more of it in a set volume (which would lead to even more collisions, so if collisions aren't allowed that wouldn't work).

    What I found interesting about ionizing gasses is that they can be ionized to a very high degree where multiple electrons are removed from each atom. Is this possible with metals also, or are they limited to having 1 free electron (such as copper)?

    Either way, I think you're right since getting the same amount of free electrons in a set volume of gas as metal (even if metal can give up to one electron per atom) would take pressurizing the gas to near liquid.

    Again, thanks for your reply. :)
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