Efficiently store sun’s energy for months or years

Scientists at Lancaster University in the UK identified a particular material that can efficiently store energy from the sun for months or years.

The material is known as a metal-organic framework, which can form composite materials with other molecules.

By adding molecules of the light-absorbing compound azobenzene, the finished composite material was able to store energy from ultraviolet light for at least four months at room temperature before releasing it again.

The material works similar to hand warmers.  However, while hand warmers need to be heated to recharge them, the new material captures free energy directly from the sun.

Since there are no moving or electronic parts, there are no losses involved in the storage and release of solar energy. While not yet commercially viable, it could eventually supply additional heating for homes and offices, or as a heating source for off-grid locations. 

How do you feel about heating your house over the winter with warmth collected and stored from the previous summer? What other applications can you foresee for this material? Please leave your feedback in the comments below.


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