Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Design Brings World’s First Solar Battery to Performance Milestone

04.08.2015

Sunlight makes the new “aqueous solar flow” battery 20 percent more efficient than today’s lithium-iodine batteries

After debuting the world’s first solar air battery last fall, researchers at The Ohio State University have now reached a new milestone.


Photo by Kevin Fitzsimons, courtesy of The Ohio State University.

Prototype aqueous solar flow battery under development at The Ohio State University. The square piece of solar cell (center) is red, because the researchers are using a red dye to tune the wavelength of light it absorbs and converts to electrons.

In the Journal of the American Chemical Society, they report that their patent-pending design—which combines a solar cell and a battery into a single device—now achieves a 20 percent energy savings over traditional lithium-iodine batteries.

The 20 percent comes from sunlight, which is captured by a unique solar panel on top of the battery, explained Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State.

The solar panel is now a solid sheet, rather than a mesh as in the previous design. Another key difference comes from the use of a water-based electrolyte inside the battery.

Because water circulates inside it, the new design belongs to an emerging class of batteries called aqueous flow batteries.

“The truly important innovation here is that we’ve successfully demonstrated aqueous flow inside our solar battery,” Wu said.

As such, it is the first aqueous flow battery with solar capability. Or, as Wu and his team have dubbed it, the first “aqueous solar flow battery.”

“It’s also totally compatible with current battery technology, very easy to integrate with existing technology, environmentally friendly and easy to maintain,” he added.

Researchers around the world are working to develop aqueous flow batteries because they could theoretically provide affordable power grid-level energy storage someday.

The solar flow battery could thus bridge a gap between today’s energy grid and sources of renewable energy.

"This solar flow battery design can potentially be applied for grid-scale solar energy conversion and storage, as well as producing ‘electrolyte fuels’ that might be used to power future electric vehicles,” said Mingzhe Yu, lead author of the paper and a doctoral student at Ohio State.

Previously, Yu designed the solar panel out of titanium mesh, so that air could pass through to the battery. But the new aqueous flow battery doesn’t need air to function, so the solar panel is now a solid sheet.

The solar panel is called a dye-sensitized solar cell, because the researchers use a red dye to tune the wavelength of light it captures and converts to electrons. Those electrons then supplement the voltage stored in the lithium-anode portion of the solar battery.

Something has to carry electrons from the solar cell into the battery, however, and that’s where the electrolyte comes in. A liquid electrolyte is typically part salt, part solvent; previously, the researchers used the salt lithium perchlorate mixed with the organic solvent dimethyl sulfoxide. Now they are using lithium iodide as the salt, and water as the solvent. (Water is an inorganic solvent, and an eco-friendly one. And lithium iodide offers a high-energy storage capacity with low cost.)

In tests, the researchers compared the solar flow battery’s performance to that of a typical lithium-iodine battery. They charged and discharged the batteries 25 times. Each time, both batteries discharged around 3.3 volts.

The difference was that the solar flow battery could produce the same output with less charging. The typical battery had to be charged to 3.6 volts to discharge 3.3 volts. The solar flow battery was charged to only 2.9 volts, because the solar panel made up the difference. That’s an energy savings of nearly 20 percent.

The project is still ongoing, and the solar flow design will undoubtedly evolve again as the researchers try to make the battery more efficient.

Doctoral student and study co-author Billy McCulloch said that there are many different directions the research could take.

“We hope to motivate the research community to further develop this technology into a practical renewable energy solution,” he added.

The team’s ultimate goal is to boost the solar cell’s contribution to the battery past its current 20 percent—maybe even to 100 percent.

“That’s our next step,” Wu said, “to really achieve a fully solar-chargeable battery.”

Other coauthors on the paper included doctoral students Damian R. Beauchamp, Zhongjie Huang and Xiaodi Ren.

This research was funded by the Department of Energy.

#

Yiying Wu, (614) 247-7810; Wu.531@osu.edu [Wu is currently on sabbatical at Argonne National Laboratory and is best reached by email.]

Written by Pam Frost Gorder, (614) 292-9475; Gorder.1@osu.edu

Pamela Gorder | newswise
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter
16.01.2017 | Washington State University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>