Solar Energy Just Took a Giant Leap

Jan
11
2021
Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay

Renewable energy made a giant leap forward recently when scientists developed a new material that can store solar-generated energy for up to 4 months. What makes it more impressive is that it can be done at room temperature. Regular solar panels generate electricity using the energy photons, particles of light, to dislodge electrons from materials known to lose their electrons easily. When sunlight hits the solar panel, these electrons are dislodged from the materials and carried away to a conducting circuit that then allows the current to be used wherever it needs to be.

The biggest problem that we have with generating power these days is not so much about making electricity, but more about the storage. You see, as fancy as some of these technologies are, we haven’t yet developed the proper technology to store electricity efficiently. What that basically means is we have to use all the electricity we make – as we are making it.

That presents a problem for the power companies because it means that they have to be producing just enough electricity, all the time! Another problem with that whole setup is that when something breaks or needs repair, then there’s an immediate drop in the power supply, causing rolling-blackouts and load-shedding.

Using what they call a Metal-Organic Framework or MOF. It’s a porous type of material that allows other smaller molecules to bond with the MOF. The result is that the electrons end up being contained within the framework. What makes it really impressive is that this process occurs at 22 degrees Celsius, staying that way for up to four months. All they need to do to get the electrons out is heat the material up, and the electrons will be released.

The science behind all of it is pretty impressive, to say the least, and the technology will go a long way to providing renewable energy sources in remote locations. It can also be used as a potential heat source. They are still in the process of making it commercially available, but that’s at least good news for renewable energy, and people can look forward to using it soon.

Bianca Van der Watt

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