In a breakthrough discovery, researchers have designed a solar cell and battery into a single device, which achieves more energy savings than a regular battery.
Ohio State University’s Yiying Wu said that 20 percent energy saving comes from sunlight, which is captured by a unique solar panel on top of the battery.
The solar panel, on top of the battery, is now a solid sheet, rather than a mesh as in the previous design.
Another key difference comes from the use of a water-based electrolyte inside the battery as water circulates inside it. The new designs are called aqueous flow batteries.
Wu said that the truly important innovation here was that they have successfully demonstrated aqueous flow inside their solar battery.
It is the first aqueous flow battery with solar capability.
Wu added that it was also totally compatible with current battery technology, very easy to integrate with existing technology, environmentally friendly and easy to maintain.
The new aqueous flow battery doesn’t need air to function, so the solar panel is now a solid sheet.
In the study, the researchers compared the solar flow battery’s performance to that of a typical lithium-iodine battery.
They charged and discharged the batteries 25 times. Each time, both batteries discharged around 3.3 volts.
The difference was that the solar flow battery could produce the same output with less charging. The typical battery had to be charged to 3.6 volts to discharge 3.3 volts. The solar flow battery was charged to only 2.9 volts, because the solar panel made up the difference. That’s an energy savings of nearly 20 percent.
The project is still ongoing, and the solar flow design will undoubtedly evolve again as the researchers try to make the battery more efficient.
The study is published in journal of the American Chemical Society.