Solar energy has a sunny outlook as a renewable energy source, and energy industry experts are seeking to make this type of energy more accessible with technology that will cause it to be less reliant on the unpredictable whims of Mother Nature. For the average consumer, this translates to a more affordable and reliable means of solar powered energy, allowing homeowners to become self-sufficient when it comes to powering their homes.
A team of professionals at Harvard University, spearheaded by engineers and chemists with the goal of creating a storage battery to harness solar energy, has been awarded a year-long $600,000 innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program. The endowment makes up a small part of the $130-million “OPEN 2012” program, offered through ARPA-E, meant to facilitate the production of groundbreaking energy technologies.
The goal behind transforming the battery system for renewable energy storage, deemed a “flow battery,” is to provide economical, grid-scale electrical energy storage based on small, environmentally conscious organic molecules. Because solar power is considered an intermittent energy source due to its dependence upon weather and the sun’s power, stationary storage of solar power needs to be made better available. In so doing, reliance on nonrenewable fossil fuels as a source of energy will begin to decline, making more sustainable solutions viable for energy consumers.
Flow batteries are rechargeable fuel cells with the capacity to store vast amounts of electrical energy as liquid chemicals, meant to be externally stored in tanks in order to allow designers to autonomously size electrochemical conversion hardware and chemical storage tanks. These pieces of equipment are responsible for setting topmost power capabilities and energy capacities, respectively.
In order to create a cost-effective storage solution for renewable energy sources like solar power, the team at Harvard working under the ARPA-E’s grant is attempting to utilize small, organic, plant-based molecules that can be artificially synthesized economically as a chemical and used for storage in flow batteries. The team expects its approach to reign over existing flow batteries with its potential for higher power density, increased efficiency, economical chemicals, and safe means of storage. Should the project succeed, the Harvard scientists anticipate their work to make renewable energy like solar power more accessible due to the ability to make the energy available at all times, rather than only intermittently.
Flow batteries have the potential to help facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to a more sustainable means of producing energy.
How will this technology trickle down to benefit consumers of solar power? The improved flow battery will translate to greater reliance on solar energy to power homes, reducing the need to source energy from conventional utility suppliers, creating greater access to economical energy solutions. Want to learn more about how solar powered energy can benefit you? Tune back soon to read about the advantages of solar power!
The energy experts and consultants at CQI Associates are at the forefront of providing economical and eco-friendly energy solutions. To learn more about our energy management, auditing, certifications and more, please contact CQI Associates by calling 410-740-0667 or visit CQIAssociates.com today!