Storage has always been a hindrance to the popularity of solar energy. Despite the capacity of solar energy to generate atremendous amount of power, storage problems, especially during the nighttime, have severely limited its potential. There is also the issue of cost effectiveness. Both of these issues remained unresolved for years, until now. A group of Stanford scientists has made a breakthrough, coming up with the most effective means yet of conserving the electricity captured from sunrays in chemical form. They’re now trying to innovate ways of reducing the technological costs, and they are certain that once they achieve this, it will make solar power a serious competitor to the other contemporary, more polluting sources of energy.
The Stanford team’s approach is a simple one and makes you wonder why nobody thought about it before. They used the electricity drawn from sunlight to split the water molecules into their elementary components – oxygen and hydrogen gas. This energy is then stored and recovered later by recombining oxygen and hydrogen in water to release the electricity, or by burning hydrogen gas in an internal combustion engine.
Though the science is sound, the primary challenge is transforming it into a viable industrial process. According to Nature Communications, the team has successfully captured and stored 30 percent of solar energy into stored hydrogen. This sets a new record, beating out the previous 24.4 percent.
The use of triple-junction solar cells and different catalysts, like platinum, ramp up the cost. This means that the experiment falls short of being an industrial process. However, the Stanford team is on the right track, and all that’s left to do is get similar results with cheaper devices and materials.
The Stanford experiment pushes the boundaries of how solar energy gets stored and utilized. They only need to bring expenses down to a more manageable level. In the meantime, there are plenty of good quality solar power products available in the market. If you’re interested, get in touch with us.