HVAC Breaking News

Aug. 14, 2008: MIT Researchers Develop Method to Store Solar Energy

August 14, 2008
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - In what they call a “revolutionary leap” that could transform solar power from a minor alternative energy source into a mainstream source, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say they have overcome a major barrier to widespread deployment: storing solar energy for use when the sun doesn’t shine.

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient, says MIT. With this announcement, MIT researchers say they have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, and highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

According to Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the research work, “Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon.”

Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera’s lab, have developed a process that will allow the sun’s energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. At night, the stored hydrogen and oxygen can then be recombined using a fuel cell to generate power while the solar panels are inactive.

Sunlight has the greatest potential of any power source to solve the world’s energy problems, said Nocera. In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet’s energy needs for one year. More engineering work needs to be done to integrate the new scientific discovery into existing photovoltaic systems, but Nocera said he is confident that such systems will become a reality.

Nocera hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be able to power their homes in daylight through photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen to power their own household fuel cell.

This research project is part of the MIT Energy Initiative, a program designed to help transform the global energy system to meet the needs of the future.

Publication date: 08/11/2008

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

2014 MCAA Annual Convention

Scenes from the 2014 MCAA Annual Convention in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Podcasts

NEWSmakers: Julian Scadden

Training is an ongoing process. Julian will discuss how you can generate maximum return on time and energy invested training by following a three part process. Listen to this podcast to get expert tips on training, tracking and follow up. 

More Podcasts

THE MAGAZINE

ACHRNEWS

NEWS 04-14-14 cover

2014 April 14

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

SERVICE CALLS POLL

Which statement on service calls best applies to your business?
View Results Poll Archive

HVACR INDUSTRY STORE

plumbing-hvac.gif
2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research

 

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

DON'T MISS A THING

Magazine image
 
Register today for complete access to ACHRNews.com. Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.

STAY CONNECTED

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con