Power & Energy

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The growing need of energy, limited source of fossil fuels, and the population boom are asserting the need of renewable and green energy source. Clean pollution-free energy has always been the fascination of the modern civilization. Due to the increase in pollution level while generating energy from fossil fuels has lead us to believe in wind energy, solar energy, and various other unlimited sources. The most potential among them is the energy emitted by the sun. It can be harnessed and drawn safely without the requirement of a huge infrastructure.

Recent development in solar energy harnessing

The energy extraction from the sunrays has witnessed a big breakthrough. The solar cells have become more efficient. The price of the installations has reduced to a minimum. Research is going on this field where enough solar energy can be drawn to power a house, a car or any heavy machinery. In this case, two different methods are showing groundbreaking progress. One is Photovoltaics (PV) and the other is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). With the aid of this new technology, the researchers are developing a solar skin for rooftop solutions, solar roads, wearable solar devices, solar batteries to store energy, etc. The biggest issue that has questioned the use of such technologies is the storage problem.

How can solar energy be stored?

Wouldn’t it be nice that you can use the energy harnessed from the sun rays even after the sun has set? This would be a huge breakthrough in the case of the domestic users. The amount of non-renewable energy will be reduced to a considerable extent and the pollution rate will also minimize. Many of the countries are converting their major electricity source into a greener option. Since the very beginning of the solar technology, the researchers have been trying to harness the energy more efficiently and store it for the future use. The renewable energy is probably the most potential one, specifically for those countries where the  sun shines for a longer period of the year.

Reduction in installation prices

Due to the innovations in this segment, the solar panels are now very cheap. It can be installed on the roofs, gardens, and in any free space as it comes in various shapes and sizes. A household can easily derive solar energy to run its appliances without wasting money on the fossil fuel units. The solar panels have now become more efficient to draw a higher amount of energy from the sun rays to support the daily chores. Despite the escalation of the efficiency of the infrastructure, the main problem of storing the energy for further use exists.

Storing solar energy: A breakthrough

The solar batteries exist in a proficient shape but are not potent enough to power an entire house properly. The constant research in this field has provided a newer and better solution to the world. The group of researchers, hailing from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, has come up with a working idea of liquid storage of solar energy.  This is quite a fascinating development in this aspect as the entire world is hoping to find a positive result in this aspect. The team has been working on the liquid storage device for a few years now.

Our future depends on the solar supply of unlimited energy. The end of fossil fuel will be witnessed very soon. Almost every country will bar the use of fossil fuels due to their adverse effects. The dependency on the renewable source will increase manifold in the next few decades. The researchers from the above mentioned university is a step closer to harness and store energy emitted by the sun in a more efficient device.

How does the liquid storage device work?

The team, headed by Professor Kasper Moth-Poulsen, has developed a specific fluid that can store the emitted energy in the form of bond energy. The chemical fluid used in making the liquid storage device is Norbornadiene. This organic liquid, when exposed to the energy supplied from the solar cells, get converted into Quadricyclane. The energy is stored in the formation of new bonds in the molecule of the converted organic compound. The research result and findings are published in the famous journal named Energy & Environmental Science.

The liquid panel is coined as a ‘molecular solar thermal system’ by the team of researchers. The energy is stored as bond energy in the product organic compound, Quadricyclane. This liquid can be transported and used also. On demand, the energy is released in the form of heat and the storage medium is recovered back again to reuse. The breakthrough liquid chemical, Norbornadiene changes into the product chemical when exposed to a potential source of light. The renewable energy can be stored in a more efficient device than the batteries.

Current status of the device

The concept of liquid storage of solar energy is currently in a conceptual mode. The feasibility of the device has not been checked for domestic use. The research was initiated almost 6 years back in the university by the team. In 2013, the first possibility was demonstrated by the team. The first prototype that was demonstrated only had the efficiency to store energy by 0.01%. The storage device used ruthenium as the prime element in the designed compound. After four years of relentless research done by the team, the efficiency of the device has reached 1.1%.

A higher percentage of oncoming solar energy can now be converted and stored as chemical energy. The factor of improvement within four years is a whopping 100. The key element, ruthenium, is also replaced by cheaper carbon-based compounds. Professor Moth-Poulsen is very hopeful regarding the findings. The device can now sustain for 140 storage cycles and shows very less degradation rate. 

In a nutshell

The energy entrapment and storage device will revolutionize the world by partly solving eh energy crisis. Currently, the liquid storage device is not optimized and not qualified for a long use. Eventually, the research will show a better way to store energy and use it in all possible spheres of life.