World's First Ever Solar Battery Runs with Water

First Posted: Aug 03, 2015 10:55 AM EDT

Scientists have made an important milestone when it comes to the world's first ever solar battery. The battery has now achieved a 20 percent energy savings over traditional lithium-iodine batteries, which could be huge moving forward.

The battery relies on a unique solar panel on top of it. This panel is actually a solid sheet rather than a mesh, which is what it was in a previous design. The battery also utilizes a water-based electrolyte within it.

Because water circulates inside the batter, this new design belongs to an emerging class of batteries called aqueous flow batteries.

"The truly important innovation here is that we've successfully demonstrated aqueous flow inside our solar battery," said Yiying Wu, one of the researchers, in a news release. "It's also totally compatible with current battery technology, very easy to integrate with existing technology, environmentally friendly and easy to maintain."

In theory, aqueous flow batteries could provide affordable power grid-level energy storage someday. In this case, the solar flow battery could bridge a gap between today's energy grid and sources of renewable energy.

"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 new study.

The new solar flow battery can actually produce the same output of a typical lithium-iodine battery with less charging. This, in particular, is huge when it comes to harnessing renewable energy.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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