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Liquid storage of solar energy – more effective than ever before

Researchers in Sweden have demonstrated efficient solar energy storage in a chemical liquid. The stored energy can be transported and then released as heat whenever needed while the storage medium is fully recovered – a so-called molecular solar thermal system.

Many consider the sun the energy source of the future. But one challenge is that it is difficult to store solar energy and deliver the energy ‘on demand’. A research team from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, has shown that it is possible to convert the solar energy directly into energy stored in the bonds of a chemical fluid. The chemical process involved is based on the organic compound norbornadiene that upon exposure to light converts into quadricyclane.

“The technique means that that we can store the solar energy in chemical bonds and release the energy as heat whenever we need it,” says Professor Kasper Moth-Poulsen, who is leading the research team. “Combining the chemical energy storage with water heating solar panels enables a conversion of more than 80 percent of the incoming sunlight.”

The research project was initiated at Chalmers more than six years ago and the research team contributed in 2013 to a first conceptual demonstration.

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