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article imageKey to improving solar cell efficiency is chemistry

By Tim Sandle     Jun 17, 2018 in Environment
Nuremberg - As solar cell technology continues to advance, at the same time as interest in renewables rises, researchers are looking at how advanced chemistry can shape industrial sized solar cells so they can be adapted to maximise power collection.
Energy storage from solar cells is important, together with other renewable sources like wind, given that energy can only be generated when the wind is blowing of there is a sufficient amount of sunlight. Energy conversion is the process of transforming energy from one form into another.
Hence, storing excess electricity, above what is needed, when the sun is shining in an efficient way, is of importance for the expansion of solar power. However, doing so presents a conundrum that needs to be solved in the full potential of solar power is to be realized.
Maximizing the storage of solar energy presents complex challenges for researchers looking into energy transition technologies. Traditional solutions, like the use of batteries do not deliver the best efficiencies. Recent developments in chemical concepts for energy storage open up new possibilities.
According to EE News, researchers have shown that the conversion and storage of solar energy can be combined into a single molecule thorough a process of intramolecular reactions. This could lead to the development of a new generation of energy-storing solar cells.
These findings relate to research conducted at the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, with the focus being on chemical driven concepts for energy storage. This currently takes the form of two main projects.
The two research strands are examining molecular solar energy storage where scientists are considering how molecules and processes can produce efficient storage together with controlled energy release. The ultimate aim to be find a means for stored chemical energy to be converted into electrical energy. For this to happen a new type of solar device is needed, which the researchers term an "energy-storing solar cell".
This falls in the field of norbornadiene quadricyclane storage systems. Here the compounds norbornadiene and quadricyclane, which are hydrocarbons, appear to be the most promising materials for the storage of solar energy. Quadricyclane also has the potential for use as an additive for rocket propellants.
Research has shown how, triggered by light, the norbornadiene molecules transform into quadricyclane. This produces an energy density equal to today’s high-performance batteries. In other words, quadricyclane acts like a "solar fuel".
More about Solar cells, Chemistry, Renewable energy, Energy
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