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topic 57496

Why can't we store electricity in water?

A discussion started in 2011 but continuing through 2018

July 29, 2011

Q. Water has +ve and -ve charge ... and water conducts electricity -- then why can't we store electricity in it?
I am in 2 puc...

Seema M.

June 2011

A. Hi, Seema.

Please try to explain the context in which water has +Ve and -Ve charge, and what 'store electricity' means to you. I don't quite understand the question and I'm not real confident that you do either :-)

But if you can make the question a bit clearer, I think we can help. Certainly we can 'store energy' in the form of hydrogen electrolytically liberated from water.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 2, 2011

A. Do a google search of capacitors. You will find at least one article that talks about it storing a charge. Actually, they decided that the charge was stored only at the glass/water interface if I remember correctly. It is a tiny charge, probably in the nano Farad range, possibly in the micro Farad ranges.
I think that you will find that for the bulk of the water mass, that even tho it does have a + end and a - end to the molecule, that it is quite happy to share the charge rather than store it. As Ted said, when you add electrons to water, it will break the bond and form H and O gasses.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

August 2, 2011

A. There are several ways in which energy can be stored in water. I can think of the following:
1. "Pure" water can be used as a dielectric in a capacitor which stores energy.
2. You can heat water and store (thermal) energy. Being in Bangalore you should be taking hot water bath daily! Energy is also stored in steam to run electric generators.
3.Potential energy stored in water in dams is converted into kinetic energy and then to electric energy in hydroelectric power stations.

Can you identify the source of energy in each of these?

H.R. Prabhakara
- Bangalore, Karnataka, India

January 29, 2013

Q. Why can't we use a double sided wind mill in generation of electricity?

suryateja [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Kurnool,Andhra Pradesh,India

January 1, 2013

A. Hi, Suryateja. I think you can use double-sided wind mills.

Are you sure that you fully understand the question? Please remember that it can be smart to ask for help in answering questions that you may have, but it is usually less smart to ask a question that you didn't understand. Posting a question you don't understand can be wasting your opportunities for education -- please tell your teacher if you don't clearly understand the question. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 10, 2018

! I believe a study [is called for] on liquids which can be used to store electricity.
If we can use a battery powered automobile then exchange the liquid at a filling station instead of using the old charging method would be much quicker. I welcome your comments.

Anthony Demings
- Providence Rhode Island USA

January 2018

A. Hi Anthony. Although I don't think that could actually work with most batteries, thinking outside the box is always a good idea!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

January 18, 2018

A. Is it worth explaining here that "electricity" isn't a substance that can be held or stored like coal or gasoline?

Electric current is the movement of electrons along a conductor (usually a copper wire). It can be electrons going from one end to the other (direct current) or back and forth along a short stretch over and over (alternating current).

Direct current is produced by a battery, which has one side that is holding a lot of extra electrons, the other side that is "missing" a lot of electrons, and a semi-permeable membrane or salt bridge between them to keep other things balanced that need to be. Solar panels can also produce direct current by using light rays to knock electrons around and forcing them to run along the wire to get back "home".

Alternating current is produced by spinning a ring of magnets around one section of the wire. Usually the magnet ring is being driven by steam that is generated by burning coal or busting uranium atoms into pieces, or sometimes by wind power or water moving through a dam.

So since electric current is all about motion, you can no more store it than you can the energy of a speeding bullet. You can have that bullet in your gun ready to go, but once you fire it, you can't pause and unpause it.

ray kremer
Ray Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
supporting advertiser
McHenry, Illinois
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January 20, 2018

A. Many years ago, I did a lot of experimenting with anodic and cathodic ion-exchange membranes. One time, I arranged several small, clear, plastic tanks (about 100 ml each), containing various solutions, in a line, each separated by membranes, with electrodes at the ends. My object in one experiment was to set the positive and negative ions in one of the cells out of balance, to produce an over-abundance of either positive or negative ions so that the solution in that cell would have an over-all positive or negative charge. My idea was to be able to store whatever energy this imbalance would produce. Ultimately, I wondered what would happen if one combined a positive ion rich solution with a negative ion rich solution. Would energy be released?

The experiment worked, as far as my setup being able to produce this ion imbalance. However, nature would not allow this to happen. To make up for the charge deficit in the cell, it automatically split water off one of the membrane surfaces in that particular cell, continually. I could visually see it happening as bubbles (H2 or O2) coming off of a single point on the membrane. If I was producing more positive than negative ions, water split and gave off H2 gas and OH- ions, to make up for the deficit. If the solution were negative ion rich, the water split to give off O2 gas and H+ ions. In other words, I could not store energy in a solution, at least not in the way I was trying to do it. If it had worked, I might have blown up the lab. It was a complete surprise the way nature prevented me from doing it.

Chris Owen
PM Refining Consultant - Benton, Arkansas, USA

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