New technology could help generate and store electricity

Chemistry Professor and research assistant develop new technology that could improve energy storage and distribution.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

A UW-Madison chemistry professor and research assistant developed a new technology that can generate and store electricity.

The “Solar Flow Battery” is a system made from pieces of existing technology that could be used to obtain clean energy from the sun and transport it to remote areas. The device can function as a solar panel, as a delivery system of power or as energy storage.

Chemistry professor Song Jin and his research assistant Wenjie Li teamed up with a professor of electrical engineering in Saudi Arabia to create the technology.

In their research findings, which were published last week in the journal Chem, the team highlighted that the SFB has a record solar-to-output electricity efficiency of 14.1 percent, which is more efficient than the team has seen in past tests of similar devices. The SFB also allows for accessible energy since the stored energy can be used at any time.

This is an important aspect of the device because when the sun goes down at night, solar energy is less accessible. With the SFB, energy is stored in liquid, creating large-scale energy storage that lasts.

In an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, Jin said “developing reliable renewable energy is one of the most important problems we face.”

Currently, the teams SBF test device is small. There would need to be 6,000 of them to power a 40-watt light bulb.

Companies such as Tesla are currently putting resources into developing similar, but larger-scale, technologies.

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