Solar Energy Without Blocking the View

Solar Concentrator

The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight.
Credit: Yimu Zhao

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that can harvest energy when placed over a window without blocking the view.

The new development is called the transparent luminescent solar concentrator and it has the potential to be used on buildings, cell phones, and any other device that has a flat, clear surface.

This from Science Daily:

Research in the production of energy from solar cells placed around luminescent plastic-like materials is not new. These past efforts, however, have yielded poor results – the energy production was inefficient and the materials were highly colored.

Read the full article here.

The transparent luminescent solar concentrator is still in the beginning of its development – yielding a solar conversion efficiency just close to one percent. However, Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering believes the concentrator will reach efficiencies beyond five percent when fully optimized.

“It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way,” Lunt said. “It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”

ECS will have a symposium at the upcoming meeting in Cancun dealing with solar fuels and the utilization of solar energy. Find out more about the meeting and sign-up for early bird registration today!

Lead-acid car batteries

According to engineers at MIT, we can recycle them to make long-lasting, low-cost solar panels. Credit: Christine Daniloff

The old lead-acid battery in your car may not be as useless or environmentally dangerous as was once thought. In fact, these batteries may be the answer to creating a cheap source of green energy.

According to engineers at MIT, old lead-acid batteries can be recycled and easily converted into long-lasting, low-cost solar panels. So far, the solar cells in the panels have yielded promising results – achieving over 19 percent efficiency in converting sunlight to useable electricity.

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We all know the health risks that cigarette smoking can lead to, but with over one billion smokers internationally – according to the researchers at the World Health Organization (WHO) – smoking cigarettes has also become an environmental issue. However, a group of scientists in South Korea have discovered a way to transform this waste into a positive by converting the cigarette butts into green energy in a one-step process.

This from Smithsonian:

In a recent paper in the journal Nanotechnology, the researchers demonstrated a one-step process for turning used cigarette filters (the main component of butts) into a material that can be used to store energy in supercapacitors—components that can be used alongside batteries in the electrical grid, consumer electronics and electric vehicles.

Read the full article here.

While it is unlikely that the supercapacitors will match the storage abilities of chemical-based batteries any time soon, the scientists are optimistic about the potential of this process. With trillions of cigarette butts being tossed out each year, there is no shortage of materials to build billions of supercapacitors.

Find out more about the evolving science of supercapacitors in ECS’s Digital Library.

What’s Graphene?

Kostya Novoselov

Published over 60 peer-refereed research papers (mainly as the principal/corresponding author) including Nature and Science articles and more than 15 papers in Nature Materials, Nature Physics, Nature Nanotechnology, Reviews of Modern Physics, Physical Review Letters, PNAS.

We’ve been having lots of talks around the home office about how people don’t realize the impact of electrochemistry and solid state science have on their world.

Being new here, I’m still playing catch up with the science. I ask a lot of questions. My colleagues patiently try to do what Miss Lemke could never accomplish in 11th grade chemistry.

Here’s one result that can benefit me and the rest of our less aware readers of this blog. I got this video link explaining graphene from John Lewis, our Associate Director of Publications. The video is from The One Show, BBC1 last year.

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Tattoo That Harvests Energy from Persperation

Biobattery Tattoo

The biobattery tattoo that can create power through perspiration. Credit: Joseph Wang

Power through perspiration. That is the idea behind the new temporary tattoo that can store and generate electrical energy from your own sweat.

This new method was announced at the American Chemical Society meeting by Dr. Wenzhao Jia of the University of California, San Diego.

According to Jia’s explanation of the device in the journal Angewante Chemie, the temporary tattoo essentially acts as a sensor that measures the body’s lactate levels, which are the chemicals naturally present in sweat. From there, an enzyme in the sensor strips electrons from, which generates an electrical current. The current is then stored in a battery that is also built into the sensor.

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Using Hemp to Store Energy

“People ask me: why hemp? I say, why not?”

That is what Dr. David Mitlin said about the new discovery in bio-waste that has been published in the journal ACS Nano, according to BBC.

Mitlin and his team presented their findings at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco, where it was explained how waste fibres from hemp can be transformed into high performance energy storage devices.

The hemp – which is legal to grow due to the absence of THC – is producing supercapacitors that are at least on par with the graphene, which is known to be the industry’s gold standard.

Dr. Mitlin and his researchers primary focusing on taking produces that are considered waste and evolving them into something applicable and with high value.

This from BBC:

But the leftover bast fibre – the inner bark – typically ends up as landfill. Dr Mitlin’s team took these fibres and recycled them into supercapacitors – energy storage devices which are transforming the way electronics are powered.

Read the full article here.

If you’re interested in Dr. Mitlin’s research, take a look at this article that he published with ECS.

Energy Storage World Forum – Rome 2015

Energy Storage World Forum

From the Energy Storage World Forum in London 2014.

Energy Storage World Forum – Rome 2015
Rome, Italy
May 19-21, 2015

The 8th Energy Storage World Forum in 2015 will take place in Rome and will include The 3rd Microgrid Forum and The 2nd Residential Energy Storage Forum.

This 3 events in one location will save you time and money and will feature over 25 Utilities/TSOs/DSOs and End Users such as TERNA, E.ON, UK POWER NETWORKS, EDF etc.

Find out more.

For speaking, sponsorship inquiries contact: emily@energystorageforum.com

Don’t forget the 2014 ECS and SMEQ (Sociedad Mexicana de Electroquímica)
Joint International Meeting October 5-9, 2014. Learn more.

Upcoming Energy Conferences

Northeastern University

Multi-Scale Renewable Energy Storage (MRES) 2014

The 2nd Annual “Multi-Scale Renewable Energy Storage – MRES 2014″Conference
Northeastern University in Boston, August 19-21, 2014

The meeting will focus on the science, technology, policy and entrepreneurial challenges for enabling new novel energy storage solutions for the future sustainable green energy initiatives.

Conference highlights:
• Aqueous and non-aqueous flow batteries
• Next generation battery technologies and materials challenges
• Graphene, sodium and other new energy storage technologies
• Fuel cells and hydrogen storage development and infrastructure
• Safety, reliability and reproducibility across technologies and applications
• System integration, implementation and industrial application
• Government perspective and funding opportunities

Find out more.

This was posted in the ECS group on LinkedIn. Join us!

The 8th Energy World Forum
Rome, May 19-21, 2015

Each year more than 30 of the world’s leading Utilities/TSOs/DSOs gather at this exclusive Annual Forum to shape the future of Energy Storage. Find out more.

PS: Speaking of meetings in general, the 2014 ECS SMEQ Joint International Meeting in Cancun Mexico is Oct. 5-9. Early-bird registration is now open.

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