Liquid Solar Energy 20 Year Storage?

The most efficient publicly available solar panels can harness only 21% of the solar energy that hits them. And then, when it does convert the energy into usable power, it has to be used right away or stored in batteries. To improve this system is the focus of many scientists.

Now, a team of Swedish scientists is close to a solution. They have created a liquid called norbornadiene. It is pretty much liquid sunshine. It can capture 30% of raw solar energy, which is better than what the best solar panel on the market can do! All in all, norbornadiene would be able to bring in around 50% more power, which is a drastic improvement in energy efficiency.

Another aspect of their invention that improves upon current solar technologies is the time frame of its storage capacity. Solar panel energy storage is relatively limited. Norbornadiene, on the other hand, can potentially maintain its potency for several years. With this liquid, it is possible to collect and store premium solar power for 18 years or more!

Liquid solar energy that can be stored for 18 years
Credit: Chalmers University of Technology

Team leader, Dr. Kasper Moth-Poulson of the Chalmers University of Technology, said:

The norbornadiene molecules that we have made have very good properties, in terms of solar energy capture efficiency, storage time and energy density. They can store energy without the need for insulation materials for 18 or more years.

Moth-Poulson and his colleagues have been experimenting with norbornadiene for many years now from the roof of the physics department building at the university. It heats up to just below boiling once activated and has been able to provide enough power to be quite advantageous. The energy density of the liquid is 250 watt-hours per kilogram. To put it into perspective, that’s twice the strength of Tesla’s popular Powerall battery.

liquid solar energy that can be stored for 18 years.
Credit: Chalmers University of Technology

Unfortunately, there is a downfall. The liquid requires potentially toxic solvents – such as a cobalt-based activator – to convert into its full potential state. This is one of the things the team is currently working on improving. They are trying to find a less-hazardous catalyst to transform norbornadiene into its active form quadricyclane.

Moth-Poulsen envisions norbornadiene to be a definitive part of the eco-friendly plan of the future. He said:

I hope that in five years, we will see the first products based on our molecules and could help mitigate the daily variations in temperature. This will lead to increased thermal comfort and reduced energy consumption for heating and cooling.

It’s not the solve-all solution, but rather a piece of the overall solution that will tackle the climate crisis and curb global warming.

Source – Intelligently Living