Molecule that can Store Solar Power: Energy Trends for 2019

Molecule that can Store Solar Power: Energy Trends for 2019

By Energy CIO Insights | Tuesday, March 26, 2019

solar energyA research group from the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, took a leap in the development of a special kind of molecule that is capable of retaining energy harnessed from solar panels. The team has developed a system that can use these molecules in liquid-form to heat homes and run appliances, to reduce the need for fossil fuels. Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage (MOST) makes use of technologies that already exist to convert thermal energy and water into steam, which can be converted into electrical energy. The system can be reused for hundreds of cycle, and it is entirely non-toxic. After decades of trails, research, and prototypes, the first feasible solar-powered storage system is initiated, and it is expected to roll out for commercial use within the next ten years.

Team researcher Kasper Moth-Poulsen stated that no significant degradation was noted even after running 125 cycles. MOST works in a circular manner. First, the liquid captures energy from sunlight in a solar thermal collector placed on the roof of the building. Then the energy is stored at room temperature which leads to minimized energy losses. The warmth can later be used in a domestic heating system, and the liquid can be sent back to the roof for collecting more energy. The entire process is free of emissions, and it is done without damaging the molecule. Up to 18 years the energy can be stored in the isomer. When the energy is extracted for use, the warmth is more significant than expected. The group has created a catalyst for controlling the release of stored energy; the catalyst will act like a filter through which the liquid will flow creating a reaction that can warm the fluid by 63 centigrade.

The research team made many important advances, and now they presented an emission-free energy system. In previous versions, the system was reliant on a liquid that was partly composed of a flammable chemical called toluene. But, in the current system, researchers have found a way to remove the dangerous toluene and made it just the energy storing molecule. The next step would be to combine every aspect into a coherent system. 

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