New energy system stores solar energy for up to 18 years and releases it on demand

The new system is able to store solar energy for up to eighteen years and release it when and where it is needed.

By connecting it to an ultrathin thermoelectric generator, the team made the system produce electricity. Ultimately, the research could lead to self-charging electronic devices that use stored solar energy on demand.

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Molecular Solar Energy Storage Systems (MOST)

The technology, called Molecular Solar Energy Storage Systems (MOST)is based on a specially designed molecule of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen.

Upon contact with sunlight, the molecule changes shape and becomes an energy-rich isomer, that is, a molecule composed of the same atoms but arranged differently.

The isomer can then be stored in liquid form for later use when needed, such as overnight or in winter.

The system has been refined to the point that it is now possible store energy for up to 18 years.

A specially designed catalyst releases the saved energy as heat while returning the molecule to its original shape, so that it can be reused in the heating system.

The Swedish researchers sent their specially designed, solar-charged molecule to their colleagues Tao Li and Zhiyu Hu at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where the energy was released and converted into electricity using a microscale thermoelectric generator they developed there.

The generator is an ultra-thin chip that could be embedded in electronic gadgets such as headphones, smart watches and phones. So far, we have only produced small amounts of electricity, but the new results show that the concept really works. It looks very promising.

Zhihang Wang, Chalmers University of Technology.

As a proof of concept, the generator can produce power up to 0.1 nW (power per unit volume up to 1.3 W m-3). This number may be quite low, but the researchers see great potential in their molecular thermal power generation system for emission-free and renewable energy generation. The system responds to the intermittent nature of solar power by storing it for months or years and allowing it to be used on demand.

This is a radically new way of producing electricity from solar energy. This means that we can use solar energy to generate electricity regardless of weather, time of day, season or geographic location. It is a closed system that can operate without causing carbon dioxide emissions.

Kasper Moth-Poulsen, director of the investigation.

However, much research and development remains to be done before we can recharge our technical devices or heat our homes with the solar energy stored in the system.

In collaboration with the various research groups included in the project, we are currently working to refine the system. You need to increase the amount of electricity or heat you can draw. Even if the energy system is based on simple basic materials, it must be adapted so that its production is sufficiently profitable and therefore can be launched more widely.

Kasper Moth Poulsen.

Already in 2017, researchers from the Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) presented an interesting energy system that makes it possible to capture solar energy, store it for up to eighteen years and return it when and where it is. is necessary.

More information: www.sciencedirect.com (English text).

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