A device for solar energy storage and release based on a reversible chemical reaction is demonstrated.
A highly soluble derivative of a (fulvalene)diruthenium (FvRu2) system is synthesized, capable of storing solar energy (110 J g−1) in the form of chemical bonds and then releasing it “on demand”, when excited thermally or catalytically.
A microfluidic device is designed and constructed for both the photo-harvesting and the heat-utilization steps, allowing for the recycling of material.
A team of scientists from Sweden might have found a solution for the second challenge... They’ve developed “solar thermal fuel” -- a special kind of fuel that is capable of storing the sun's energy for up to 18 years.
It has been in development for over a year by researchers from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.
The device that helps in capturing solar energy is called MOST which stands for Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage System. It works in a circular manner where a pump cycles the fuel through transparent tubes.
As they come in contact with the sunlight, the bonds between the atoms are rearranged turning to an energy-rich isomer.
The energy from the sun is then captured into these strong chemical bonds. What’s surprising is that this energy remains strong even after the liquid cools down to room temperature.
To use this trapped energy, the liquid is flown through a catalyst developed by the research team that creates a reaction warming the liquid by 63 degrees celsius.
This kickstarts the process, with the molecule back to its original form and releases the energy in the form of heat. This heat can be used to either heat a building’s water heater, dishwasher, and other applications where warm water is needed.
It can also be used for industrial applications such as sterilisation, distillation and low-temperature heat used for cooking, among other applications.
The same liquid can be pumped back into MOST and reused where it would collect and store solar energy again. Researchers have reused the same fluid over 125 times and haven’t seen significant damage to its molecular structure.
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