A Breakthrough in Solar Tech: Storing Energy in Super-Cool Liquid Bonds?

A research team from Chalmers University in Sweden have figured out a better way to store solar energy – by carving fluid channels in to a sandwich of silica and quartz crystal in order for quantum liquid quadricyclane to flow through.

Quadricyclane becomes a liquid around -400 degree celsius, near absolute zero and only 3 degrees off the temperature of some recently explored lunar craters (Which are now considered to be the coldest location in our solar system). At these temperatures the rules of conventional relativity begin to break down in to the quantum.

Wouldn’t it be easier to build this new quantum battery inside dark, cold lunar craters if we were to eventually inhabit the moon? An interesting question.

The crater Tycho seen by Lunar Orbiter 5.

Brown/NASA Northeast Regional Planetary Data Center.

From Nano crystal liquid solar cells to concentrated thermodynamic solar energy there are no lack of recent discoveries to reference as far as solar harvesting goes. Some of them like malleable Nano-crystal liquid solar cells also play by Quantum rules.

With all the recent discoveries being made in energy harvesting one of the supporting features of solar power has lagged behind, aside from the Tesla wall battery much of the storage industry hasn’t caught up to these developments in harvesting yet.

So this most recent discover is good news as far as the solar industry is concerned.

Like many new advanced technologies this form of storing energy in liquid bonds called molecular solar thermal energy storage relies on crystals and quantum physics. Crystals like silicon and quartz are unique because of their recurring structure in space.

This type of atomic-molecular symmetry imparts crystals with an incredible range of diversity as far potential applications goes. Since they have a good optical refractive index for magnifying light one of those applications just happens to be Molecular solar thermal energy. Now instead of batteries we may soon be able to use super-cool quantum liquids stored between two plates of crystal silicon and quartz to store energy.

The top part of the device is filled with a liquid that stores solar energy in the chemical bonds of a molecule quadricyclane. This method of storing solar energy remains stable for several months. The energy can then be reeleased as heat whenever it is required.


Energy and Environmental Science

The lower section of the device uses sunlight to heat water which can be used immediately. This combination of storage and water heating means that over 80% of incoming sunlight is converted into usable energy. They also mention that a hybrid system may reach 85-95% efficiency This is good news for the solar industry given the general lack of equivalent battery systems.


EDIT: Thermal Molecular Energy storage is a process not unlike the creation of super efficient Smart Glass that can block out spectra’s of light by adjusting the temperature of the molecules.


The timeline to market will depend on specific applications and whether they will be able to attract the right type of collaborators outside academia.





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