I love my electric car and am thankful I’m no longer beholden to climate change-inducing fossil fuels. But I’m lucky. Not everyone can afford electric cars or solar power. But, the sun gives us so much enough energy every single that we couldn’t even use it all. So, why aren’t we taking more advantage of it?
While there are quite a few reasons, a big one is that it’s hard to store. But thanks to some researchers in Sweden, we could be powering our homes with “sunlight in a bottle” by 2030!
The process is surprisingly simple:
“The fluid is made up of a molecule of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen that reacts to the presence of sunlight by rearranging its atomic bonds, which essentially transforms the molecule into a cage that “traps” the energy from the sunlight within it. Amazingly, this energy content is preserved even after the fluid itself cools down to room temperature.
To release the energy, you simply pass the fluid over a cobalt-based catalyst, which causes the molecules to revert to their original form. This, in turn, lets the energy from the sunlight out of its cage as heat.”1
The early results are promising and have shown that once the fluid is passed through the catalyst it warms up by 113 degrees Fahrenheit. And researchers believe that can increase that output (with the right manipulations) to 230 degrees Fahrenheit or more. And, the system can already double the energy capacity of Tesla’s Powerwall batteries.
“Even better, researchers have tested the fluid through as many as 125 cycles, and the molecule has shown almost no degradation. In other words, it’s a rechargeable battery that continues to take a charge without losing much capacity over many uses.
And because the energy comes in the form of fuel, it can be stored and used even when the sun isn’t shining. It should even be possible to transport the energy via pipes or trucks.”2
Researchers hope that within a decade the tech will be commercially available. And honestly, all the damage we’ve done to the planet, it can’t come soon enough!