A few years ago, an article mentioned that solar energy could be stored in liquid form and also transported; this can happen when it is hooked up to an ultra-thin thermoelectric generator; the team that discovered this from Sweden Chalmer University of technology believed that this would lay the groundwork for self-charging electronics that will use solar energy-one-demand. This solar energy storage system became the Molecular Solar thermal System (MOST); this technology has been developing for decades. It is about some specially made molecule of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. When it contacts sunlight, the atoms within the molecule will be rearranged to change shape and turn into an energy-rich isomer that can eventually be stored in a liquid form. The captured energy in a liquid state can then be stored in that form for 18 years before s specially made catalyst will return the molecule to its original shape and release the stored energy as heat. The research team from Sweden Chalmer University collaborates with Chinese Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which has used a compact thermoelectric generator to turn that heat into electricity. We are excited to know that solar energy can now be stored for years and used on-demand.
The Solar Generator
“The generator is an ultra-thin chip that could be integrated into electronics such as headphones, smartwatches, and telephones,” said researcher Zhihang Wang from the Chalmers University of Technology Sweden. “So far, we have only generated small amounts of electricity, but the new results show that the concept works. It looks very promising,”
The proof of concept got an output of up to 0.1nW or power production per unit volume up to 1.3 W m-3. Although this seems very small, according to the scientists, there is considerable potential in the MOST system, which they believe will address the issue of solar energy’s intermittent power output only when there is sunlight. The system can store power for as many as months or years and allow it to be tapped into on-demand.
“This is a radically new way of generating electricity from solar energy,” said research leader Kasper Moth-Poulsen, Professor at the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Department at Chalmers. “It means that we can use solar energy to produce electricity regardless of weather, time of day, season, or geographical location. It is a closed system that can operate without causing carbon dioxide emissions.” making it environmentally suitable and will be most needed.
The teams’ current focus is to improve the system’s performance since it can prove to produce electricity. The team is also working on affordable commercial solutions for charging gadgets and heating homes.
The amount of heat and electricity the system can extract needs to be increased; for example, the basic materials need to be adapted to be cheaper and possible to launch broadly.
Using SOlar Energy as the next possible Energy source
It is noteworthy that solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on Earth, and maximizing the use of solar power can potentially meet the intensive demand for power while reducing detrimental effects to the environment.5 For instance, an estimated 2.3 × 104 TWy of solar power reaches Earth each year, which equates to only seven h of sunlight needed to meet current annual global energy requirements.6,7
Photovoltaic (PV) cells can directly convert solar energy into electrical power with a maximum efficiency of around 30%. Most of the solar energy is not only lost as heat but also contributes to deteriorating the performance. In addition, solar intensity naturally varies with time and geographical location, and these variations currently limit the utilization of PV. PV cells do not produce power during the night. Solar thermal power plants with phase-change molten salts can generate power for several hours after sunset; however, these plants require very large solar concentrators and consequently can be installed only in remote areas. Previously, solar actuators based on hydrogen-bonded azopolymers for electricity generation have been investigated; however, the device cannot store solar energy for later on-demand power generation.14 Hence, in addition to the above mainstream technologies, there is an urgent need for new alternative compact technologies that can derive and store energy from the sun, especially the large amount of solar heat that is not effectively used for future power generation.
Solar energy storage system properties
MOST systems can function in both liquid and film forms, which can be tailored toward different applications., In liquid form, MOST systems can transport stored energy, meaning that energy can be stored and released in two different locations. In contrast, MOST systems can be used in film form in smart windows and other device integrations.
The future of solar as the most abundant of resources is now a thing of when? It looks like very soon; this might fall into the best invention of the century if it scales the commercial proof of concept in the future.
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