New material can store energy from the sun for months or years


If we are getting better at powering the planet with renewable energy, then we need to get better at finding ways to efficiently store that energy – and scientists have identified a particular material that actually gives us I can give

The material is known as a metal – organic framework (MOF), in which carbon-based molecules form structures by adding metal ions. Importantly, MOFs are porous, so they can form mixed materials with other small molecules.

That’s what the team did here, by adding molecules of the light-absorbing compound azobenzene. The finished composite was able to store energy from ultraviolet light for at least four months at room temperature before re-releasing the material – a major improvement over days or weeks that most light-responsive materials can manage. .

“The material works somewhat like the phase change material used to supply heat in the hand warmer,” says material chemist John Griffin from Lancaster University in the UK.

“However, while they need to be hand warmed to warm up, the good thing about this material is that it receives energy directly released from the sun.”

Azobenzene acts as a photwatch – a molecular machine that responds to external stimuli such as light or heat. Under ultraviolet light, molecules in the MOF orifice structure change shape, effectively storing energy.

Applying heat to composite MOF materials triggers a quick release in energy that gives itself heat, which can later be possibly used to heat other materials or devices.

While some work still needs to be done to make the material still commercially viable, it may ultimately result in the de-ice car windscreen being used, or supplying additional heating for homes and offices, or off-. As a heating source for grid locations. Such photwatches also have applications in data storage and drug delivery.

“It has no moving or electronic parts and therefore there is no loss in the storage and release of solar energy,” says Griffin. “We hope that with further development we will be able to make other materials that store even more energy.”

While previous research has also focused on storing solar energy in photowatches, it is generally required to keep them in liquids. Switching to a MOF composite solid means that the system is easy to incorporate and the chemical stability is also high.

Right now, more work needs to be done to prepare this MOF material for widespread use. While testing showed that it can hold energy for months at a time, the material’s energy density is relatively low, which is an area on which researchers are hoping to improve.

The good news is that there are many about the setup used in this research that can be rearranged and adjusted to try and improve the results – which is another cost-effective and reliable for energy storage Will produce the way on which we can depend.

“Our approach means that X-ray technician Nathan Halkovich of Lancaster University says that there are many ways to try these materials either by changing the photowatch, or by optimizing the porous host framework.”

The research has been published in Chemical material.

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