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New Battery Design Captures Solar Energy at Increased Efficiency

image credit: Experimental solar cell and battery device in the lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Picture: Wenjie Li.

Energy storage is one of the critical issues for decarbonizing the power system. It isn't easy or cheap to store electricity. However scientists and engineers are working on a wide variety of avenues to this goal. A recent breakthrough in Australia is a solar-flow battery.

A world-wide team of scientists have produced a new kind of device, called a solar-flow battery, whose prototype has stored energy at the high level of 20.1%. Solar-flow batteries combine solar panels to capture energy together with storage into one device, which is more convenient.

The dual perovskite/silicon solar cells were designed and fabricated by Professor Anita Ho-Baillie at the University of Sydney Nano Institute and by postdoctoral researcher Dr Jianghui Zheng at University of New South Wales (UNSW) were paired with specially designed chemical battery components in the new and improved device. The team has been working on these designs since 2018.

The researchers are also working towards developing devices with longer life cycles as well as increased efficiency.

The objective is to have units which would function in remote areas, such as the Australian Outback, but could be used anywhere that power is needed a long way from the grid, or in developing countries where energy infrastructure is not available everywhere.

The team of researchers that worked on the prototype device come from the University of Sydney, UNSW, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Utah State University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and the City University of Hong Kong

 

The technical paper is published in Nature Materials:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41563-020-0720-x

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