Scientists Store Sunlight in Nanomolecules

Sunday, March 5, 2017 - 20:49

Researchers of Flinders University and the University of Adelaide, have converted solar energy directly into chemical energy in the form of methane and methanol.

According to a phys.org report, researchers in collaboration with a number of international institutions, have converted solar energy directly into chemical energy in the form of methane and methanol ina a process using dynamic nano-clusters, a specific number of metalic-gold atoms that interact with the molecules in UV light.

The team has been testing its effectiveness using artificial ultraviolet light. While it is still being scaled up, researchers say it has potential for industrial, commercial and domestic applications.

Gunther Andersson, the lead researcher, stated that chemical energy storage is not completely a new idea, but the thing that is special in the work is that specific nano-clusters can be used, which make the conversion far more efficient, “"Using a gold-based catalyst we get a about ten times more product out of it than what a contemporary catalyst would give us.”

The technology has the potential for large-scale application that could be used to help power whole cities or just a regular home. The dynamic shape of the nano-clusters makes them catalytically active, creating a more efficient production of chemical energy in the form of methanol or methane. Professor Andersson said these materials were ideal substances because they were already in frequent use and easily stored.

Professor Andersson's solar-storage device is an international collaboration involving researchers from Flinders University, University of Adelaide, Canterbury University, Victoria University and the University of Utah.

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