Scientists discover extraordinary way to turn normal windows into emission-free solar panels which can store energy for nearly TWO DECADES
- A special molecule captures the sun’s energy and converts it into heat
- That molecule is used to create a laminate that can be formed onto windows
- Energy can be stored for 18 years and turned into heat on command
- Scientists say their invention could be commercially ready within six years
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.
The scientists new solar captures system (pictured in a diagram above) uses novel new methods of storage and chemical engineering to capture the sun’s rays and heat homes
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 longterm 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.
Kasper Moth-Poulsen (pictured above) has led a team of scientists throughout the last decade to develop the technology and says it could commercially available in six years
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.
WHAT IS SOLAR POWER?
Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical power (stock image)
Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity.
Two methods for generating solar power exist.
Photovoltaics — the kind of solar panel you might see built into a calculator — are capable of directly converting light into electrical power.
In concentrated solar power systems, however, mirrors or lenses are first used to collect the sunlight that falls on a large area and focus it — creating heat that can be used to drive a steam turbine and generate electricity.
The productivity of solar panels is dependant on the sunlight they receive in a given location — a factor which is dependant on both latitude and climate.
Optimum locations for solar farms include the arid tropics and subtropics, with deserts lying at such low latitudes often being cloudless and getting around 10 hours of sunlight each day.
According to NASA, the eastern part of the Sahara — the Libyan Desert — is the sunniest place on the Earth.
Solar power accounted for 1.7 per cent of the world’s electricity production in 2017, and has been growing at a rate of 35 per cent each year.