The incredible device was created in the Ohio State University and has functional characteristics of both lithium-ion batteries and the energy harvesting capabilities of solar power technology .
This find is massively significant as one of the biggest problems with solar energy is that it requires huge banks of batters to be constructed alongside them so the power can be absorbed and stored efficiently, but even the transmission of this power has massive losses. But what the scientists at Ohio State University have done is created a device that is your all in one harvester and charger! This solution is around 25% cheaper and 20% more efficient according to their results!
The design is they have created is nothing short of imaginative as the device contains three electrodes:
- lithium metal anode at the bottom
- oxygen/air electrode in the middle
- photoelectrode (photovoltaic solar cell) on top
This design ensure that the electrons can travel smoothly between each of electrode, so when the battery is charging it is connected to the solar cell and the lithium electrode, and upon discharging the lithium electrode is connected to the oxygen.
Within the device there are two very different chemical reactions that take place, as when the battery discharges the lithium reacts with the oxygen to create lithium peroxide (Li202) and the electricity is able to move from the device to whatever the load is. (this reaction expands the device)
When the battery recharges the solar cells create electrons (utilizing the photovoltaic effect) that convert the lithium peroxide molecules back into lithium ions (Li+) and oxygen (O2). (this reaction contracts the device)
Here there is an iodide “shuttle” in the electrolyte that helps the electrons move between the electrodes. The solar cell itself is cheap and simplify made only using titanium dioxide and iron oxide (rust) as the dye. These new dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) aren’t as efficient as the usally silicon, but they make the material much cheaper and resistant to damage.
This new battery developed by Yiying Wu is almost ready for production as the design is currently being patented. Wu says that the licensed to industrial partners and will significantly bring down the cost of solar power technology.
“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu says. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost” , according to Wu this cost could be as much as by a massive 25%.
To read more about his research follow the link below!
[Research paper: doi:10.1038/ncomms6111 – “Integrating a redox-coupled dye-sensitized photoelectrode into a lithium–oxygen battery for photoassisted charging”]
This research will have a drastic effect on current battery technology and will also be investigated by the US Department of Energy, where they will investigate ways to increase the performance of this device testing new materials.
Have a great day guys!