This ground-breaking new solar-powered battery is giving the fossil fuel industry reason for concern.
After decades of research, prototypes, and trials, the first sustainable solar-powered storage system is underway and it is poised for commercial release within the next 10 years.
Only one year ago, a research group from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden presented a special kind of molecule that was capable of retaining energy harnessed from solar panels. Today, this same team has developed the system so that it can use this molecule in liquid-form to heat homes, run appliances, and ultimately reduce – if not eliminate – our need for fossil fuels.
The Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage (MOST) uses existing technologies to turn thermal energy and water into steam, which can then be turned into electrical energy. By using their specially-designed liquid to store energy from the sun, the system is also entirely non-toxic and reusable for hundreds of cycles.
“We’ve run it though 125 cycles without any significant degradation,” team researcher Kasper Moth-Poulsen told NBC News.
Taken together, the advances mean that the energy system MOST now works in a circular manner. First, the liquid captures energy from sunlight in a solar thermal collector on the roof of a building. Then it is stored at room temperature, leading to minimal energy losses. When the energy is needed, it can be drawn through the catalyst so that the liquid heats up. The warmth could then be utilized in, for example, domestic heating systems, after which the liquid can be sent back up to the roof to collect more energy – all completely free of emissions, and without damaging the molecule.
“We have made many crucial advances recently, and today we have an emissions-free energy system which works all year around,” Moth-Poulsen added in a university press release.
Furthermore, the amount of energy stored by the fuel is nothing short of extraordinary. The most effective variant of the fuel can hold up to 250 watt hours of energy per kilogram – which is twice as much energy stored by Tesla’s Powerwall batteries.
While further development of the MOST system is still needed, the groundwork has been set for what appears to be a tremendous technological breakthrough within the next decade.
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