Posted in | News | Solar Energy | Energy

New Research Could Lead to Self-Charging Electronics Using Stored Solar Energy on Demand

The researchers behind an energy system that helps capture solar energy has the ability to store it for up to 18 years, and then liberate it when and where it is required have currently taken the system a step further.

New Research Could Lead to Self-Charging Electronics Using Stored Solar Energy on Demand.

Image Credit: Chalmers University of Technology.

Following the early illustration of how the energy could be extracted in the form of heat, the researchers have currently succeeded in making the system produce electricity, by connecting it to a thermoelectric generator.

Ultimately, the research — developed at the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden — could result in self-charging electronics with the help of stored solar energy on request.

This is a radically new way of generating electricity from solar energy. It means that we can use solar energy to produce electricity regardless of weather, time of day, season, or geographical location. It is a closed system that can operate without causing carbon dioxide emissions.

Kasper Moth-Poulsen, Research Leader and Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology

The newly-developed technology relies on the solar energy system MOST — Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage Systems that has been developed at Chalmers University of Technology.

In a very simple manner, the technology has been developed on the basis of a specially designed molecule that exhibits the potential to alter its shape when it comes in touch with sunlight. Already, the early stages of the research have gained great interest throughout the world.

The new study, reported in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science, was performed in collaboration with scientists in Shanghai, and it has taken the solar energy system a step further. This elaborates how it can be integrated with a small thermoelectric generator to convert solar energy into electricity.

Ultra-thin Chip Converts Heat into Electricity

A uniquely designed molecule, fabricated by Swedish researchers, loaded with solar energy was sent to collaborators Tao Li and Zhiyu Hu at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Here, the energy was liberated and converted into electricity with the help of the generator that was developed there. Basically, Swedish sunshine was dispatched to the other side of the world and transformed into electricity in China.

The generator is an ultra-thin chip that could be integrated into electronics such as headphones, smart watches and telephones. So far, we have only generated small amounts of electricity, but the new results show that the concept really works. It looks very promising.

Zhihang Wang, Researcher, Chalmers University of Technology

Fossil Free, Emissions Free

The study exhibits a huge ability for renewable and emissions-free energy production. However, a lot of research and development still needs to be conducted before one will be able to charge technical gadgets or heat the homes with the help of the stored solar energy of the system.

Together with the various research groups included in the project, we are now working to streamline the system. The amount of electricity or heat it can extract needs to be increased. Even if the energy system is based on simple basic materials, it needs to be adapted to be sufficiently cost-effective to produce, and thus possible to launch more broadly.

Kasper Moth-Poulsen, Research Leader and Professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology

More About the Most Technology

The Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage system is known to be a closed energy system developed based on an exclusively developed molecule of carbon-hydrogen and nitrogen which on getting hit by sunlight alters shape into an energy-rich isomer, a molecule composed of the same atoms but aligned jointly in a different method.

Furthermore, the isomer could be stored in a liquid state for later use when required, such as at night or in winter.

The isomer can then be stored in liquid form for later use when needed, such as at night or in winter. The scientists have refined the system to the point where it is currently feasible to store the energy for up to 18 years.

A uniquely developed catalyst liberates the saved energy in the form of heat while returning the molecule to its actual shape so that it can be reused in the heating system. At present, in combination with a micrometer-thin thermoelectric generator, the energy system can also produce electricity to order.

More About the Research and the Scientific Article

The study Chip-scale solar thermal electrical power generation has been reported in the Cell Reports Physical Science. The article was written by Zhihang Wang, Zhenhua Wu, Zhiyu Hu, Jessica Orrego-Hernández, Erzhen Mu, Zhao-Yang Zhang, Martyn Jevric, Yang Liu, Xuecheng Fu, Fengdan Wang, Tao Li, and Kasper Moth-Poulsen.

The scientists are active at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Henan Polytechnic University in China, as well as at the Institute of Materials Science in Barcelona and the Catalan Department of Research and Advanced Studies, ICREA, in Spain.

The study has been financially supported by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Swedish Research Council Formas, the Swedish Energy Agency, the European Research Council (ERC) under grant agreement CoG, PHOTHERM-101002131, the Catalan Institute of Advanced Studies (ICREA), and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Program under grant agreement no. 951801.

Journal Reference:

Wang, Z., et al. (2022) Chip-scale solar thermal electrical power generation. Cell Reports Physical Science. doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrp.2022.100789.

Source: https://www.chalmers.se/en/Pages/default.aspx

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type
Submit