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"it slowly dawned on me that the landscape of science is maybe what interests people a great deal in science fiction."
- Gregory Benford

Kink-Spring  
  A device that stores energy with near-perfect efficiency.  

In the future envisioned in the novel, fossil fuels have been exhausted. And how do you replace an energy source as small and portable as gasoline?

Just for purposes of comparison, consider that a gallon of gas (and you know how big a gallon of milk is) is the energy equivalent of 500 hours of human labor. For about $3.50 - that's how cheap energy is in the US. For now.

Lalji unmoored and took his place at the tiller. He unlocked the kink-springs and the boat whirred into the deeper current, stored joules dripping from its precision springs in a steady flow as molecules unlocked, one after another, reliable from the first kink to the last.
From The Calorie Man, by Paolo Bacigalupi.
Published by F&SF in 2005
Additional resources -

Kink-springs are charged with animal work:

The kinetic man unjacked Laljiís kink-springs from the winding treadmills and stacked them beside the slavering mulies. Lalji lifted a spring, grunting at its heft. Its mass was no different than when he had brought it to the winding shop, but now it fairly seemed to quiver with the muliesí stored labor.

Compare to the shipstone from Robert Heinlein's 1982 novel Friday.

Thanks to an anonymous reader for pointing this item out.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Calorie Man
  More Ideas and Technology by Paolo Bacigalupi
  Tech news articles related to The Calorie Man
  Tech news articles related to works by Paolo Bacigalupi

Kink-Spring-related news articles:
  - Velkess Energy Storage System (It's A Flexible Flywheel!)

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