Researchers from Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology have brought us one step closer to sustainability. These hardworking scientists have found a way to store solar energy. The technology they have published is a method that stores solar power in a chemical liquid storage, which acts as a molecular solar thermal system. This system allows for the solar power to be stored, transported, and used at a later date. The energy is stored in the bonds of a liquid’s chemicals as chemical energy, where it can then be released on demand. The energy is released, whilst also keeping the storage system intact and available for reuse.
The energy that is stored in the bonds is released as chemical energy instead of directly being converted into electricity. The chemical heat can be used to power a generator, which is then able to power the electricity. In the molecular solar thermal energy system, a photo isomer is exposed to a large quantity of sunlight. Light irradiates the photo isomer, transforming it into a metastable photo isomer. In the metastable bond lies the solar power, which has now been converted into chemical energy. This chemical energy can be released by making the metastable transform back into the parent photo isomer, thus releasing the energy. This energy can now be used to power some sort of generator.
Scientists have been tirelessly working to figure out a way to be able to store and release solar energy on demand. Solar power is the energy source of the future. However, up until this point, there have been issues with solar power storage. The biggest limitation of solar power is the ability to produce it anytime we want, such as during the nighttime or when it’s cloudy outside. The issue here is that we need to find a good way to store the energy for later use, or to be able to utilise it in a different location that has less sunlight to be converted. Scientists want to be able to take solar power from areas with a high concentration of sunlight, and take it to areas with a lower concentration of sunlight.
Ideally, by storing solar energy in the chemical fluid, an individual could transport this system to an area that does not get a lot of sun. Or alternatively, somewhere that is experiencing low concentrations of sunlight due to the cloud coverage.
This research has set us in the right direction, and there’s no time to lose momentum. The major goal when it comes to solar power is taking huge amounts of sunlight, and converting it into usable energy.