The researchers which brought us the first solar air battery last year have reported on a significant milestone in their research.
Their patent-pending design, which combines a solar cell and a battery into a single device, can now achieve 20 per cent energy savings compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries, it was reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The difference comes from a sunlight, which is captured by a unique solar panel on top of the battery.
Unlike the previous design, this solar panel is a solid sheet. The second big change is the use of a water-based electrolyte inside the battery. That’s why the device is named the “aqueous solar flow battery."
"The truly important innovation here is that we've successfully demonstrated aqueous flow inside our solar battery," said Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State.
"It's also totally compatible with current battery technology, very easy to integrate with existing technology, environmentally friendly and easy to maintain," he added.
The solar flow battery could thus bridge a gap between today's energy grid and sources of renewable energy, Science Daily writes in a report.
"This solar flow battery design can potentially be applied for grid-scale solar energy conversion and storage, as well as producing 'electrolyte fuels' that might be used to power future electric vehicles," said Mingzhe Yu, lead author of the paper and a doctoral student at Ohio State.
The team's ultimate goal is to boost the solar cell's contribution to the battery past its current 20 per cent, maybe even to 100 per cent.
"That's our next step," Wu said, "to really achieve a fully solar-chargeable battery."