Quantcast

Inspired by Nature: Scientists Find Groundbreaking Solution for Solar Storage

Popular

One of the most common pitfalls of solar energy is storing it. On sunny days there is typically an excess of energy, which is lost if not captured. But, fortunately many battery storage options are now available, including this groundbreaking new electrode prototype from the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, which could store energy at a much higher capacity, about 3000 percent more than existing technology.


The highly compact electrode is designed to hook up to a supercapacitor, which can charge and discharge energy at a much faster rate than conventional batteries. This technology hasn't been used as a main storage mechanism for its lack of storage capability. The electrode solves that with an intricate and self-repeating pattern of circuits, known as fractals.

This visionary approach was inspired by ferns, which have a dense system of veins that transfer energy and water to the entire body of the plant. The electrodes are able to store the energy in these "veins" and the supercapacitor is able to transfer the energy when it is needed at a rapid pace, without little to no energy leaked.

"Our electrode is based on these fractal shapes—which are self-replicating, like the mini structures within snowflakes—and we've used this naturally-efficient design to improve solar energy storage at a nano level," said Min Gu, professor at RMIT and co-author of the research. "Capacity-boosted supercapacitors would offer both long-term reliability and quick-burst energy release—for when someone wants to use solar energy on a cloudy day for example—making them ideal alternatives for solar power storage."

Litty Thekkekara and Min Gu with their prototype. RMIT

The electrode is also very thin, so its applications could extend beyond solar panels. The team believes this may be the innovation engineers have been looking for to power cell phones, laptops, cars and buildings.

"Flexible thin film solar could be used almost anywhere you can imagine, from building windows to car panels, smart phones to smart watches," said lead author Litty Thekkekara. "We would no longer need batteries to charge our phones or charging stations for our hybrid cars."

The project is still in its infancy, but with some ingenuity, this may soon be the new future of technology.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The message of the global movement to ban fracking and get off fossil fuels envisions a different future, one that starts with cutting off pollution at the source. cta88 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wenonah Hauter

Donald Trump's scheduled visit to a fracking industry gathering in Pittsburgh this week is a hugely symbolic moment for the 2020 election campaign, as well as the urgent battle to contain climate catastrophe.

Read More Show Less
Animals most targeted by the fur industry include minks, foxes and rabbits. Hal Trachtenberg / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Macy's announced Monday that it will stop selling fur by 2021, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A young fingerling Chinook salmon leaps out of the water at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, California on May 16, 2018. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Trump administration is rolling back protections for endangered California fish species, a move long sought by a group of wealthy farmers that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt continued to lobby for months before he began working for the administration, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less

By Gretchen Goldman

The Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel has released their consensus recommendations to the EPA administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. The group of 20 independent experts, that were disbanded by Administrator Wheeler last October and reconvened last week, hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, has now made clear that the current particulate pollution standards don't protect public health and welfare.

Read More Show Less
An African elephant is pictured on November 19, 2012, in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The unprecedented drought that has caused a water crisis in Zimbabwe has now claimed the life of at least 55 elephants since September, according to a wildlife spokesman, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Maria Dornelas.

By John C. Cannon

Life is reshuffling itself at an unsettling clip across Earth's surface and in its oceans, a new study has found.

Read More Show Less
An Exxon station in Florida remains open despite losing its roof during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Florida Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
El Niño's effect on Antarctica is seen in a tabular iceberg off of Thwaites ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck / NASA

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change, according to a new study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less