In an otherwise unremarkable-looking cluster of industrial buildings somewhere in the southeast of France, a team of engineers is attempting to tackle one of science’s most intractable problems – how to summon the power of a star.

If they pull it off, they’ll solve mankind’s greatest existential problems in one stroke.

Practical Engineering explores a scalable (and unexpected) means of mass energy storage.

Electricity faces a fundamental problem that comes with pretty much any product that’s provided on-demand: our ability to generate large amounts of it doesn’t match up that closely with when we need it. The storage of electricity for later use, especially on a large scale, is quite challenging. That’s not to say that we don’t store energy at grid scale though, and there’s one type of storage that makes up the vast majority of our current capacity.