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New energies 21/10/2020

Swedish Researchers Develop New Solar Energy Storage Solution, Powered By A Molecule : MOST !

In frosty Sweden, researchers have found a pioneering solution for storing summer heat and releasing it during the long winter months.

How the Molecular Solar Thermal energy storage systems (MOST) could Revolutionize Solar Energy Storage ?

As an intermittent energy source, solar power’s main limitation has so far been the lack of large-scale storage options. For example, storing solar from commercial farms would require warehouses full of massive batteries.

But researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg have now designed a molecule-based energy system that can capture solar energy — and save it for up to 18 years.

Here are some key features of the project: 

  • The Molecular Solar Thermal energy storage systems (MOST) is based on a custom-designed molecule that changes shape when hit by sunlight. The sun turns it into an energy-rich isomer, a molecule made up of the same atoms but arranged together in a different order to allow the isomer to be stored for up to 18 years without notable energy losses. The catalyst that releases the saved energy as heat then returns the reusable molecule to its original shape. 

  • The MOST system will be combined with thermal energy storage (TES) in a hybrid concept to enable both daily variation in solar flux, and larger temperature gradients under shorter durations of time. Mode A simulates applications where a stable temperature output is needed, such as heat to power generation, while mode B simulates a scenario where the system mitigates variations in energy demand as part of a larger system.

  • The project was recently granted €4.3 million from the European Union to support Chalmers’ plans to develop prototypes of the new technology for larger scale applications. Already, Chalmers has carried out smaller demonstrations in its laboratories, where the researchers used the technology in a window film to even out the temperature on sunny and hot days to create a more pleasant indoor climate.

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