Smart GridHow many batteries do you go through in a year? The average person uses eight batteries each year to power various devices from flashlights to remote controlled cars. We never realize how dependent we are on batteries until one runs out. Then we can barely figure out what to do with ourselves (and there’s never a battery around when you need it most).

Now imagine that you lived in a small town in Texas that lived on a run-down, outdated power grid. The power outages in this town are frequent, and when the loss of electricity occurs, it’s not just a nuisance. It can be dangerous for equipment that is necessary for the town to function. It makes the annoyance of having a battery run out of juice seem a little trivial.

Well, the citizens of Presidio, Texas, have a brand new battery as an energy backup for when the power grid fails. The battery is slightly larger than a AA, though. With 80 modules that weigh 8,000 pounds each, this is the largest sodium-sulfur battery in the world!

Obviously, this isn’t your average battery, but sodium-sulfurbatteries are perfect for powering large grids such as the one in Presidio. The battery has been nicknamed “BOB,” which stands for “Big Ol’ Battery” and runs on molten sodium and sulfur at the battery’s core.

One of the big problems with this type of battery is corrosion, so our firm designed a structure that would help the battery withstand the intense weather it would be face day in and day out. The design, completed on time and within budget, won the Texas Engineering Excellence Award for 2011.

But more importantly, the citizens of Presidio can rest easy knowing that they have a backup system, should the power go out. The giant battery is designed to last for decades, so there won’t be frantic trips to the grocery store to replace it anytime soon.