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Determining Ways to Combine the Power Conversion and Storage Capacity Needs of Solar Energy Into One Device

Researchers are attempting to find solutions to recurring issues with clean energy, such as solar energy storage, as the climate crisis continues to worsen.

Determining Ways to Combine the Power Conversion and Storage Capacity Needs of Solar Energy Into One Device.
This review focuses on recent progress of the working principles, device architectures, and performances of various closed-type and open-type photo-enhanced rechargeable metal batteries, exploring their challenges and future perspectives. Image Credit: Nano Research Energy. Tsinghua University Press.

Solar energy is considered to be one of the best renewable resources. However, it has difficulties that stop it from being extensively adopted and substituting traditional energy sources. Since solar energy has been variable across the day and throughout the year, it is essential to have a strong storage system.

At present, solar is transformed into electricity in solar cells, which lack the potential to store the energy long-term, and isolated battery storage systems that are costly and inconvenient. For this issue to be resolved, scientists are trying to determine methods to integrate the storage capacity and power conversion requirements of solar energy into a single device.

Earlier attempts made to streamline the conversion of solar energy and storage put two various components collectively into a complex device architecture, which was eventually heavy, costly, and inefficient. However, considerable progress has been made in integrating such elements into a single device, which shares elements and considerably reduces the issues of earlier designs.

The study was published in the journal Nano Research Energy on May 26th, 2022.

The amount of received solar energy on the Earth’s surface is up to 100,000 terawatt-hours, which completely meets the demand of the annual global energy consumption of 16 terawatts.

Hairong Xue, Study Author and Assistant Professor, National Institute for Materials Science

Xue continued, “However, like wind power, solar energy is intermittent due to fluctuations in isolation. To balance supply and demand, converted solar energy needs to be stored in other energy storage devices.

Therefore, it is imperative to incorporate suitable energy storage technologies into solar cells, enabling effective solar energy utilization and delivering the produced electricity when needed,” added Xue.

The paper explains advances in utilizing six various kinds of photo-enhanced rechargeable metal batteries: lithium-sulfur, lithium-ion, zinc-ion, zinc-iodine, lithium-iodine, zinc-oxygen, lithium-oxygen, and lithium-carbon dioxide batteries.

The authors describe the benefits and drawbacks of every kind of battery and how it could be employed for solar-to-electricity power conversion and storage. For example, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, utilized in several modern electronic devices such as phones, electric vehicles, and laptops are effective. However, it would be hard to scale for solar energy use due to their complex structure.

Scientists indicate that this technology is still in its initial stage and there is still additional research to be performed. Moving forward, they believe the next steps to enhancing the storage of solar energy are by utilizing photo-enhanced rechargeable metal batteries.

It is necessary to explore more suitable electrode materials and optimize the device structure of the batteries. For practical applications, stability and safety issues must be addressed and improved.

Hairong Xue, Study Author and Assistant Professor, National Institute for Materials Science

Xue continued, “Although the development of photo-enhanced rechargeable metal batteries is quite fast-based, most of the studies remain in an early stage of laboratory test.

By addressing some critical challenges involving working mechanism, electrode materials, and battery structure design, the goal is to demonstrate viable uses of photo-enhanced rechargeable batteries in electronic and optoelectronic devices,” remarked Xue.

Furthermore, the scientists hope to explore how this technology can be employed in other kinds of storage systems and energy conversion.

The additional contributors to the study include Hao Gong of the Department of Chemistry and Materials Science at Nanjing Forestry University; Yusuke Yamauchi of the School of Chemical Engineering & Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at The University of Queensland; and Takayoshi Sasaki and Renzhi Ma at the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics at the National Institute for Materials Science.  

This study was financially supported by the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Electrochemical Energy-Storage Technologies, and the JST-ERATO Yamauchi Materials Space-Tectonics Project.

Journal Reference:

Hue, H., et al. (2022) Photo-enhanced rechargeable high-energy-density metal batteries for solar energy conversion and storage. Nano Research Energy. doi.org/10.26599/NRE.2022.9120007.

Source: http://www.tup.tsinghua.edu.cn/en/index.html

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