- MODERNIZATION: Solar power can now be stored for decades
According to a press release from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, researchers developed an energy system that can store solar energy in liquid form for up to 18 years.
A Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage System (MOST) is combined with a micro-fabricated system combining a thermoelectric generator (TEG) with a low-dimensional material-based microelectromechanical system to create the generator (MEMS). The MOST device stores solar energy as chemical energy and subsequently releases it as heat, which is converted into electricity by the MEMS-TEG system.
The device is an ultra-thin semiconductor developed by a Chinese-Swedish research consortium that might be put into electronics such as headphones, smartwatches, and phones. It combines a Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage System (MOST) with a microfabricated system comprising a thermoelectric generator (TEG) and a low-dimensional material-based microelectromechanical system (MEMS).
The MOST devices were made up of 572 thermoelectric (TE) modules with 1m thick TE films and a specifically designed carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen molecule. When exposed to sunlight, the molecule transforms into an energy-rich isomer, which scientists define as a molecule made up of the same atoms but structured differently.
“The isomer can then be kept in liquid form for later usages, such as at night or in the winter,” the researcher explained, adding that the system has a solar energy storage efficiency of more than 0.70 %. “A specifically developed catalyst converts the energy saved into heat while restoring the molecule’s original structure, allowing it to be reused in the heating system.”