Scientists say a breakthrough in solar energy could turn the average window into a source of heat and store energy captured by the sun’s rays for decades.
The method was developed by scientists from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and employs a specially engineered chemical and new type of storage apparatus that they say could render today’s lithium ion batteries defunct.
According to them, their system starts with a special molecule containing carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen that is tailored to trap the sun’s rays upon contact – a new form of chemically-driven solar power that promises to lower environmental footprint.
That molecule can be used to make a type of laminate that they envision being applied to windows, cars, or even clothing.
Once the energy is captured, it can be released in the form of heat by introducing to a catalyst, they say.
Among the benefits are the potential for long term storage – a typical lithium ion battery lasts between 5-10 years as opposed to multiple decades – and also a vastly lower environmental footprint.
The method doesn’t require any costly materials like silicon, a common ingredient in conventional solar panels, and doesn’t require any electricity to distribute or release the heat once energy is captured.
While the new method can only currently produce heat, the researchers are also looking for a way to convert the solar rays into electricity.
As reported by Bloomberg, the system is the result of a decade of research and $2.5 million of funding, and may soon be available for the average consumer.
Scientists are currently looking for funding that can turn their invention into a commercial product and say that it could be available to consumers in six years.
Source: Daily Mail