Innovation That Matters

With the new technology, solar power can be converted to electricity on demand | Photo source Chalmers University of Technology/Daniel Spacek

Stored solar power provides on-demand electricity

Agriculture & Energy

The new system is emissions-free and easily transportable

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Spotted: Using a technology developed by Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology, and a generator built by a team at China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University, researchers have developed a way to store solar power so that electricity can be provided whenever needed. The new system removes the variability of a power source reliant on time of day and weather – holding energy for up to 18 years.

The technology created by the Chalmers team uses a molecule made of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen that changes shape when in sunlight. The altered shape can then be stored in liquid, making the energy usable even when there is no sunshine. For the system to produce electricity, the Shanghai team developed a microchip that produces the catalyst to release the molecule in yet another form.

As a closed energy system, there are no emissions produced by the capture, storage, and release of the solar power in either form – heat or electricity. Built with relatively common materials, the system is easily reproducible – helping to make it particularly accessible. At its current size, however, the system is too small to power large devices or structures. Scaling up the system will be the main challenge facing the scientists.

Innovation in energy generation, storage, and accessibility is creating a wave of change with projects spotted by Springwise including solar-powered desalination and a backpack that uses solar power to heat and cook food.  

Written by: Keely Khoury



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