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 Linear potentiometer LRW2/3 - Maximum precision with many measuring points
17.05.2017 | WayCon Positionsmesstechnik GmbH

nachricht First flat lens for immersion microscope provides alternative to centuries-old technique
17.05.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>