A radically new way to generate electricity from solar energy – even at night
Researchers have taken a step forward in the development of an energy system that can capture solar energy, store it for up to eighteen years, and then release it when and where it is needed.
After demonstrating how energy can be extracted as heat, they have now demonstrated how to connect the system to a thermoelectric generator to generate electricity.
The study, conducted at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology, could eventually lead to self-charging gadgets that use stored solar energy on demand.
This means that, according to research leader Caspar Moth-Pulsen, “we can use solar energy to generate electricity regardless of weather, day time, season or geographical location. It is a closed system that can operate without emitting carbon dioxide.”
The new technology is based on the Chalmar University of Technology-Advanced Solar Power System, a most-molecular solar thermal energy storage system. Like any other molecule, it is designed to change its shape when it comes in contact with the sun.
Recent work, conducted in partnership with researchers in Shanghai and published in Cell Reports Physical Science, expands on the solar energy system, describing how solar energy can be combined with a tiny thermoelectric generator to convert it into electricity.
Heat is converted into electricity by an ultra-thin chip
Swedish researchers have transferred their specially made molecules, which were full of solar energy, to colleagues Tao Li and Xiu Hu of Shanghai Xiao Tong University, where energy was released and converted into energy using generators they created. Originally, electricity was generated by sending sunlight from Sweden to China.
“The generator is an ultra-thin chip that can be integrated into electronics such as headphones, smart watches and telephones. So far, we’ve only generated a small amount of electricity, but new results show that the concept really works. This is very promising, “said Zhihang Wang, a researcher at Chalmer University of Technology.
Free of fossil fuels and emissions
The study offers great potential for renewable and emission-free energy production. However, much more research and development is needed before we can use our system’s stored solar energy to charge our electronic devices or heat our homes.
“Together with the various research groups involved in the project, we are now working to streamline the system. Increase the amount of electricity or heat it can generate. Even if the energy system is built on basic materials, it is economical enough to produce It needs to be adapted to happen and thus be able to launch more broadly, ”added Caspar Moth-Paulsen.
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