Register

Peak Oil is You


Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)


Page added on November 12, 2018

Bookmark and Share

Scientists Develop Liquid Fuel to Store Sun’s Energy Up to 18 Years

Alternative Energy

No matter how abundant or renewable, solar power has a thorn in its side. There is still no cheap and efficient long-term storage for the energy that it generates.

The solar industry has been snagged on this branch for a while, but in the past year alone, a series of four papers has ushered in an intriguing new solution.

Scientists in Sweden have developed a specialised fluid, called a solar thermal fuel, that can store energy from the sun for well over a decade.

“A solar thermal fuel is like a rechargeable battery, but instead of electricity, you put sunlight in and get heat out, triggered on demand,” Jeffrey Grossman, an engineer works with these materials at MIT explained to NBC News.

The fluid is actually a molecule in liquid form that scientists from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden have been working on improving for over a year.

This molecule is composed of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, and when it is hit by sunlight, it does something unusual: the bonds between its atoms are rearranged and it turns into an energised new version of itself, called an isomer.

Like prey caught in a trap, energy from the sun is thus captured between the isomer’s strong chemical bonds, and it stays there even when the molecule cools down to room temperature.

When the energy is needed – say at nighttime, or during winter – the fluid is simply drawn through a catalyst that returns the molecule to its original form, releasing energy in the form of heat.

“The energy in this isomer can now be stored for up to 18 years,” says one of the team, nanomaterials scientist Kasper Moth-Poulsen from Chalmers University.

“And when we come to extract the energy and use it, we get a warmth increase which is greater than we dared hope for.”

A prototype of the energy system, placed on the roof of a university building, has put the new fluid to the test, and according to the researchers, the results have caught the attention of numerous investors.

Screen Shot 2018 11 05 at 2.56.56 pm(Chalmers University of Technology)

The renewable, emissions-free energy device is made up of a concave reflector with a pipe in the centre, which tracks the Sun like a sort-of satellite dish.

The system works in a circular manner. Pumping through transparent tubes, the fluid is heated up by the sunlight, turning the molecule norbornadiene into its heat-trapping isomer, quadricyclane. The fluid is then stored at room temperature with minimal energy loss.

When the energy is needed, the fluid is filtered through a special catalyst that converts the molecules back to their original form, warming the liquid by 63 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

The hope is that this warmth can be used for domestic heating systems, powering a building’s water heater, dishwasher, clothes dryer and much more, before heading back to the roof once again.

The researchers have put the fluid through this cycle more than 125 times, picking up heat and dropping it off without significant damage to the molecule.

“We have made many crucial advances recently, and today we have an emissions-free energy system which works all year around,” says Moth-Poulsen.

After a series of rapid developments, the researchers claim their fluid can now hold 250 watt-hours of energy per kilogram, which is double the the energy capacity of Tesla’s Powerwall batteries, according to the NBC.

But there’s still plenty of room for improvement. With the right manipulations, the researchers think they can get even more heat out of this system, at least 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit) more.

“There is a lot left to do. We have just got the system to work. Now we need to ensure everything is optimally designed,” says Moth-Poulsen.

If all goes as planned, Moth-Poulsen thinks the technology could be available for commercial use within 10 years.

The most recent study in the series has been published in Energy & Environmental Science.

science alert



14 Comments on "Scientists Develop Liquid Fuel to Store Sun’s Energy Up to 18 Years"

  1. dave thompson on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 10:21 am 

    Oh boy just think in another ten years……..

  2. claes on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 12:24 pm 

    The use of this method is limited by it’s storage demands, which is over 400 degrees celsius (750 F).

    “Quadricyclane is a strained, multi-cyclic hydrocarbon with potential uses as an additive for rocket propellants as well in solar energy conversion. These uses are limited, however, by the molecule’s decomposition at relatively low temperatures (less than 400 °C).”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadricyclane

    By all means it’s a possible way to store sunlight energy, but as usual it’s not free. Heating it upp and keeping it constantly hot, probably makes this method both unpractical and expensive in use .
    By the way, is Quadricyclane poisoinous ???

  3. Cloggie on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 12:39 pm 

    And now for the video…

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2018/11/12/long-term-storage-of-heat-in-isomer/

  4. claes on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 12:39 pm 

    Is Quadricyclane poisonous ? A little googling and:

    ://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/quadricyclane
    (chemistry) A highly toxic norbornadiene isomer with potential applications in the storage of solar energy.

    YES, it is highly toxic.

  5. claes on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 12:59 pm 

    Cloggie, we don’t need an other WIDELY spred tocix agent, when the world is allready full of it. That is not what the solar energy movement is all about

  6. Cloggie on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 1:14 pm 

    “Heating it upp and keeping it constantly hot”

    You are missing the point: the storage is chemical, not thermal.

    Gasoline is also toxic.

  7. claer on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 1:54 pm 

    The storage medium ( Quadricyclane) is highly toxic, and that is my point.
    Spread it out all over the world, and this could be a new pest just like roundupp .
    About the chemical/thermal thing:
    “The Quadricyclane is a strained, multi-cyclic hydrocarbon with potential uses as an additive for rocket propellants as well in solar energy conversion.These uses are limited, however, by the molecule’s decomposition at relatively low temperatures (less than 400 °C).”
    So it must be stored at above 400C or else it will lose its ability to store power. Thats where the thermal thingh gets into it.

  8. Antius on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 2:11 pm 

    According to wiki, UV light is needed to ‘charge’ the molecule.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadricyclane

    That’s assuming that the Swedish researchers are talking about the same molecule. If so, this isn’t anything like the revolution it is being made out to be. UV light is a small part of the total solar spectrum.

    If there were to exist a molecule that can absorb low quality heat, store it and release it at about the same temperature at close to perfect efficiency; that certainly would be useful.

    However, heat can already to stored for long periods in well insulated containers, both as sensible and latent heat. A single litre of water heated from 20C to 70C, will store 210KJ of heat.

    One idea that has always intrigued me is the idea of a thermal battery. Use excess electrical power to run a heat pump. Store hot and cold in insulated tanks. Then at a time of power deficit, run hot and cold fluids through a heat engine to generate power. Typcally, well optimised thermodynamic machines can achieve anything between 60-80% of the Carnot efficiency. If both heat pump and engine achieve 71% Carnot efficiency, then overall exergy efficiency would be 50%. I am guessing that the capital cost of the pump and engine would make this a less than cost effective option.

  9. kervennic on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 2:58 pm 

    Kasper is a nice guy and from what i have seen he is an honnest researcher (worked on the same eu project). But it is not the case of research in general. This is oversold results.
    There is a system on my property that can use sun light to make solid fuel that is easy ti transport and can restore heat whenever you need up to more than a 1000 degree in oven.

    This is called tree, it is patent free and you can hro it from a small seed/

  10. Ghung on Mon, 12th Nov 2018 5:20 pm 

    “There is a system on my property that can use sun light to make solid fuel that is easy ti transport and can restore heat whenever you need up to more than a 1000 degree in oven.

    This is called tree, it is patent free and you can hro it from a small seed/”

    Yep. I have about 20 acres of the stuff. Hard to stay ahead of the accumulation. After this year’s storms, all I have to do is go pick the stuff up and throw it in the stove with a little junk mail to get it going.

  11. anon on Tue, 13th Nov 2018 12:54 am 

    >This is called tree, it is patent free and you can hro it from a small seed/

    that’s exactly why all these fancy ‘green’ people ignore it. it’s patent free and it works. those are two terrible marks against any approach to any problem! if it is patent free, nobody can own or control it! if it works, and anybody can use it, people might slip a bit out of the control of their masters! neither is acceptable! we must control people by keeping them poor and dependent! haven’t you gotten the memo?

  12. Antius on Tue, 13th Nov 2018 5:18 am 

    The problem with any wood crop is the relatively low efficiency of photosynthesis. Miscanthus Gigantius is generally considered to be amongst the highest yielding woody plants, yielding 6.9-24.1 dry tonnes per hectare under UK conditions.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096195340300062X

    If we assume a yield of 20,000 dry kg per hectare per year; and take the higher heating value of the wood to be 20MJ/kg; the total stored energy is 40MJ/m2/year. Typical annual insolation in southern England is 1000kWh/m2; which is 3600MJ/m2. The woody stems will store some 1.1% of annual insolation under good conditions – i.e. zero water stress and ideal climate. If we burn the woody stems in a boiler and generate electricity at 30% efficiency, say, the electricity yield would be 12MJ/m2/year – 3.33kWh. Efficiency is then 0.33%.

    Compare that to an amorphous silicon or thin film solar PV panel, with efficiency of ~15%. That is 45 times as much useful electrical power per square metre of land. And no need for water, harvesting or storage of the stems.

  13. Davy on Tue, 13th Nov 2018 5:52 am 

    Wood makes a great individual heat source for homes on a regional basis where forest dominate. It does not come cheap. It requires time and labor, and in this day and age equipment and fuel. I heat with wood. I have woods that can be sustainably harvested. I put a lot of time into my wood effort. Many people do as I do around the Ozarks many more should and don’t. This is part of the behavioral changes I am calling for. Too many people would rather just turn on their thermostat than go through the trouble of managing a woodlot and feeding a wood stove. We need to be doing less playing and more paying as a people. The paying is in the form of new behavior focused on sustainability and resilience. Sustainability and resilience does not come cheap. It is more than money it is about time and lifestyle too. It is about attitudes and education. The equipment to heat with wood is not cheap either. My wood boiler system that heats my house and water was $10K. My indoor woodstove was $4K. The indoor stove is my fail safe to heat the house if power goes off and the solar fails. My wood boiler requires electricity to run a small pump and fan so no power no heat. The wood stove is backup. It also makes a great treat on a very cold day because there is nothing like the radiant heat of a wood stove when it is cold.

    Wood is not the answer but it is part of many answers. The answers are to a mitigated a future of decline not a solution to civilizational decline. All the sources of heat and power we discuss here are just answers and solutions to mitigation not and effective energy transition. Global civilization cannot be reformed in my opinion just managed in decline. The issues of civilization are more than energy so even if we had an energy transition we are still in trouble. Yet, energy is one of the most pressing issues. There are ways to mitigate the downside of civilization but it takes behavioral changes. The technology is there but the attitudes are not. Managing a wood lot requires a lot of my time. It is not saving me money really currently. Maybe in the future if electricity costs spike it will be cheaper. I have crunched the numbers. Electricity and propane are cheaper but they are not sustainable and resilient alone. They can be if combined with a personal wood lot and solar. I say this because a hybrid of the two makes the whole package easier. The grid needs to be increasingly renewable fed and people need to be doing their part at home. People need to make efforts at the individual level to feed themselves and provide energy. If we can do this from both ends the whole equation becomes more doable. The problem with people today is consumerism and leisure. We would much rather play and buy then work and invest.

  14. Antius on Tue, 13th Nov 2018 8:35 am 

    “Wood makes a great individual heat source for homes on a regional basis where forest dominate. It does not come cheap. It requires time and labor, and in this day and age equipment and fuel. I heat with wood. I have woods that can be sustainably harvested. I put a lot of time into my wood effort.”

    Excellent post Davy. The sort of discussion that should dominate this board instead of political posturing. Useful because it is informed by personal experience.

    Wood is at least something that we can rely upon to provide energy at a relatively low level of technology and complexity. It is also something that is useful as a building material, so in a sustainable economy its energy value would probably be a by-product. As a fuel and material, it is beautiful and pleasing in a way that solar powered heat pumps never will be. I have stoves in both of my properties. Some of the wood I burn is driftwood washed up onto the local beach. A lot is waste wood, from pallets and scrap furniture. So the wood I burn has already served as a material by the time I get round to recovering the heat. The cost for me is simply the cost of using something that would otherwise be thrown away.

    The problem with wood as fuel is that in most places it is a limited resource. I can meet some excess heating needs with wood, which I substitute with coal towards the end of winter. But there simply would never be enough of it if it became a bulk fuel for most people in the UK, even if only used for space heating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *