August 6, 2022

Combine solar power supply and storage needs in one device

Researchers are trying to find solutions to recurring clean energy problems, such as solar energy storage, as the climate crisis continues to deepen.

This review focuses on recent advances in the operating principles, device architectures, and performance of various closed-type and open-type photo-enhanced rechargeable metal batteries, exploring their challenges and future prospects. Image credit: Nano Research Energy. Tsinghua University Press.

Solar energy is considered one of the best renewable resources. However, it encounters difficulties that prevent it from being widely adopted and from substituting for traditional energy sources. Since solar power has been variable throughout the day and throughout the year, having a solid storage system is essential.

Currently, solar energy is transformed into electricity in solar cells, which lack the potential for long-term energy storage, and isolated battery storage systems which are expensive and impractical. To solve this problem, scientists are trying to determine methods to integrate the storage capacity and power conversion needs of solar energy into a single device.

Previous attempts to streamline solar energy conversion and storage bundled two different components into a complex device architecture, which was ultimately cumbersome, expensive, and inefficient. However, considerable progress has been made in integrating such elements into a single device, which shares elements and greatly reduces the problems of earlier designs.

The study was published in the journal Nanometer Research Energy May 26e2022.

The amount of solar energy received on the Earth’s surface can reach 100,000 terawatt hours, which fully meets the demand of the annual global power consumption of 16 terawatts.

Hairong Xue, Study Author and Assistant Professor, National Institute of Materials Science

Xue continued: “However, like wind power, solar power is intermittent due to fluctuations in isolation. To balance supply and demand, the converted solar energy must be stored in other energy storage devices.

Therefore, it is imperative to integrate appropriate energy storage technologies into solar cells, enabling efficient use of solar energy and supplying the generated electricity when needed.“, added Xue.

The article explains the progress made in the use of six different types of photo-enhanced rechargeable metal batteries: lithium-sulfur, lithium-ion, zinc-ion, zinc-iodine, lithium-iodine, zinc-oxygen, lithium-oxygen and lithium-carbon dioxide. Battery.

The authors describe the advantages and disadvantages of each type of battery and how it could be used for the conversion and storage of solar energy into electricity. For example, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, used in several modern electronic devices such as telephones, electric vehicles and laptop computers, are efficient. However, they would be difficult to scale up for solar power use due to their complex structure.

Scientists say this technology is still in its infancy and there is still more research to be done. Going forward, they believe the next steps to improve solar energy storage is to use photo-enhanced rechargeable metal batteries.

It is necessary to explore more suitable electrode materials and optimize the device structure of batteries. For practical applications, stability and security issues need to be addressed and improved.

Hairong Xue, Study Author and Assistant Professor, National Institute of Materials Science

Xue continued: “Although the development of photo-enhanced rechargeable metal batteries is quite rapid, most studies are still at an early stage of laboratory testing.

By addressing some critical challenges involving working mechanism, electrode materials, and battery structure design, the goal is to demonstrate viable uses of photo-enhanced rechargeable batteries in electronic and optoelectronic devices.Xue remarked.

Additionally, scientists hope to explore how this technology can be used in other types of energy storage and conversion systems.

Additional contributors to the study include Hao Gong from the Department of Chemistry and Materials Science at Nanjing Forestry University; Yusuke Yamauchi from the School of Chemical Engineering and the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland; and Takayoshi Sasaki and Renzhi Ma at the International Center for Nanoarchitectural Materials at the National Institute of Materials Science.

This study was financially supported by Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, China Postdoctoral Science Foundation, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Electrochemical Energy-Storage Technologies and JST-ERATO Yamauchi Materials Space-Tectonics Project.

Journal reference:

Hue, H. et al. (2022) Photo-enhanced high energy density rechargeable metal batteries for solar energy conversion and storage. Nanometer Research Energy.