Liquid Storage Of The Sun’s Power

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have demonstrated efficient solar energy storage in a chemical liquid. The stored energy can be transported and then released as heat whenever needed. ​Many consider the sun the energy source of the future. But one challenge is that it is difficult to store solar energy and deliver the energy ‘on demand’.

The research team from Chalmers University has shown that it is possible to convert the solar energy directly into energy stored in the bonds of a chemical fluid – a so-called molecular solar thermal system. The liquid chemical makes it possible to store and transport the solar energy and release it on demand, with full recovery of the storage medium. The process is based on the organic compound norbornadiene that upon exposure to light converts into quadricyclane.

The technique means that we can store the solar energy in chemical bonds and release the energy as heat whenever we need it,’ says Professor Kasper Moth-Poulsen, who is leading the research team. ‘Combining the chemical energy storage with water heating solar panels enables a conversion of more than 80 percent of the incoming sunlight.’

The research project was initiated at Chalmers more than six years ago and the research team contributed in 2013 to a first conceptual demonstration. At the time, the solar energy conversion efficiency was 0.01 percent and the expensive element ruthenium played a major role in the compound. Now, four years later, the system stores 1.1 percent of the incoming sunlight as latent chemical energy – an improvement of a factor of 100. Also, ruthenium has been replaced by much cheaper carbon-based elements.

We saw an opportunity to develop molecules that make the process much more efficient,’ says Moth-Poulsen. ‘At the same time, we are demonstrating a robust system that can sustain more than 140 energy storage and release cycles with negligible degradation.’

The research is presented on the cover of the scientific journal Energy & Environmental Science.


Wood Added With Carbon Nanotubes Printed In 3D

Paul Gatenholm, professor in Polymer TA group of researchers at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden)  have managed to print and dry three-dimensional objects made entirely by cellulose for the first time with the help of a 3D-bioprinter. They also added carbon nanotubes to create electrically conductive material. The effect is that cellulose and other raw material based on wood will be able to compete with fossil-based plastics and metals in the on-going additive manufacturing revolution, which started with the introduction of the 3D-printer.

3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing that is predicted to revolutionise the manufacturing industry. The precision of the technology makes it possible to manufacture a whole new range of objects and it presents several advantages compared to older production techniques. The freedom of design is great, the lead time is short, and no material goes to wastePlastics and metals dominate additive manufacturing. However, a research group at Chalmers University of Technology have now managed to use cellulose from wood in a 3D printer.

wood computer chipCombing the use of cellulose to the fast technological development of 3D printing offers great environmental advantages,” says Paul Gatenholm, professor of Biopolymer Technology at Chalmers and the leader of the research group. “Cellulose is an unlimited renewable commodity that is completely biodegradable, and manufacture using raw material from wood, in essence, means to bind carbon dioxide that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere.”

The breakthrough was accomplished at Wallenberg Wood Science Center, a research center aimed at developing new materials from wood, at Chalmers University of Technology.



Alzheimer’s: Amazing News From The Nano World

Alzheimer substance, amyloid, may be the nanomaterial of tomorrow. Amyloid protein causes diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob . Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology recently unveiled an unexpected discovery about amyloid in an article published in the Nature Photonics journal. Amyloids are misfolded variants of proteins that occur naturally in the body. The researchers have now shown that the misfolded variants react to multiphoton irradiation, a type of laser effect, whereas the healthy proteins do not.

The discovery could be useful in a variety of fields. Not only can it lead to new methods to detect and treat the brain diseases that amyloid causes, amyloid may also be used as a building block for future nanomaterials.
Amyloid proteinAmyloid protein causes diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. But amyloid also carries unique characteristics that may lead to the development of new composite materials for the nano processors and data storage of tomorrow, and even make objects invisible
It is possible to create these protein aggregates artificially in a laboratory”, says Piotr Hanczyc, one of the researchers who made the discovery. “By combining them with other molecules, one could create materials with unique characteristics.
The amyloid aggregates are as hard and rigid as steel. The difference is that steel is much heavier and has defined material properties, whereas amyloids can be tuned for specific purposes. By attaching a material’s molecules to the dense amyloid, its characteristics change.
“This was already known, but what has not been known is that the amyloids react to multiphoton irradiation”
”, says Piotr Hanczyc. “This opens up new possibilities to also change the nature of the material attached to the amyloids“.

DNA Antennas Mimic Nature To Capture Solar Energy

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology – Sweden – have found an effective solution for collecting sunlight for artificial photosynthesis. By combining self-assembling DNA molecules with simple dye molecules, the scientists have created a system that resembles nature‘s own antenna system. The Chalmers team are combining artificial photosynthesis with DNA nanotechnology. When constructing nano-objects that are billionths of a metre, DNA molecules have proven to function very well as building material. This is because DNA strands have the ability to attach to each other in a predictable manner. As long as the correct assembly instructions are given from the start, DNA strands in a test tube can bend around each other and basically form any structure.

Artificial PhotosynthesisAn artificial light-collecting antenna system. Binding a large number of light-absorbing molecules (“red balls”) to a DNA molecule, which is then modified with a porphyrin unit (blue) will result in the creation of a self-assembling system that resembles light harvesting in natural photosynthesis.

It’s like a puzzle where the pieces only fit together in one specific way,” says Bo Albinsson, professor of physical chemistry at Chalmers and head of the research team.. “That is why it is possible to draw a fairly complex structure on paper and then know basically what it will look like. We subsequently use those traits to control how light collection will take place“.

The results were recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.