A team of researchers from Madrid is developing a system of storing thermal energy using molten silicon, which can hold 10 times more energy than existing batteries heat. Scientists hope to develop technology for a new generation of low-cost solar thermal power plants to store solar energy in urban centres.
Accumulation of energy is currently the main problem of renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar energy — so the real competition is with withtraditional forms of energy should work to improve technology accumulation of excess energy that the city can use at night pasarnya days or when bezvetrenno weather.
Modern technology is simply not sufficiently developed, so that researchers in all industries are exploring a number of new ideas to improve energy storage, including kommerzialisierung solar system, storage of thermal energy, which retains a concentrated heat from the sun in molten salts ( potassium, calcium, nitrate, sodium, etc.), and converts heat back into electricity with the help of the heat source.
Systems based on salts work quite well, but they require pumps, pipelines and heat-transfer fluids to generate electricity, making them expensive and vulnerable to security issues. However, the system is based on rare materials. That is why researchers around the world are looking for safer alternatives that use cheaper and more common materials.
The solution proposed by a group from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), based on silicon, could be very successful, since silicon is one of the cheapest and most common elements — second only to oxygen.
A new system of storing thermal energy is to heat silicon concentrated solar light. The temperature of the molten silicon can reach 1400 ° C (2552 ° F) after which the material is isolated from the environment for as long as the energy required to convert heat into electricity. The unique properties of silicon allow it to hold more than 1 MW*h of energy per cubic meter of volume is 10 times more energy than it can store salt.
"The key to creating new technology, according to the head of research Dates Alejandro (Alejandro Datas) was the use of thermophotovoltaic cells is a relatively new technology that generates electricity from heat as do the solar panels from the world."
"At these high temperatures, silicon emits intensely podobno the Sun" says Dates. "Thus dermotoligist can be used to convert this radiation into electricity."
Thermophotovoltaic cells can achieve the energy conversion efficiency of more than 50% and can produce 100 times more electricity per unit area compared to conventional solar cells. Datas says that they play a key role in the system — not least because they can operate at extreme temperatures, unlike other generators.
The system uses rasprostranennye, inexpensive materials that can store 10 times more energy than existing solutions and is extremely compact and quiet, with no moving parts.
The researchers believe that their invention will help to significantly reduce the cost of production and storage of energy into heat energy. It also could offer a safe and economically efficient access for energy storage the renewable energy and can be used both for heating and for electricity generation.
The UPM team is currently looking at ways to commercialise the system. To this end, they have created a business project called SILSTORE and began to build a laboratory prototype. published