New chemical recipe to store solar energy, release it as heat, such as for creating steam

Steam_release_from_Monckton_Coking_WorksFrom the Faculty of Science – University of Copenhagen

Chemistry student in sun harvest breakthrough

(via Eurekalert) The Sun is a huge source of energy. In just one hour planet Earth is hit by so much sunshine that humankind could cover its energy needs for an entire year if only we knew how to harvest and save it. But storing sunshine is not trivial. Now a student at Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen has researched his way to a breakthrough which may prove pivotal for technologies trying to capture the energy of the sun, and saving it for a rainy day.

Anders Bo Skov has recently started studying for his Master’s degree in chemistry at University of Copenhagen. Together with his supervisor, Mogens Brøndsted Nielsen, he is publishing the paper “Towards Solar Energy Storage in the Photochromic Dihydroazulene-Vinylheptafulvene System” in the journal “Chemistry – A European Journal“.

Professor Brøndsted is in charge of “Center for Exploitation of Solar Energy” at University of Copenhagen. Here his team is attempting to develop molecules capable of harvesting and holding substantial amounts of solar energy, storing it for significant amounts of time, and releasing it on demand. Regrettably a year of research had shown them something that was taking on the shape of an irksome law of nature. As the capacity of the molecules to hold energy seemed to improve, the capacity to store it over time dropped; and vice versa.

The group is working with molecules known as the Dihydroazulene-Vinylheptafulvene system. Put very simply this stores energy by changing shape, but every time the Brøndsted group managed to design improved molecules, the molecules lost some of their ability to hold their “energy storage” shape, says professor Brøndsted.

“Regardless of what we did to prevent it, the molecules would change their shape back and release the stored energy after just an hour or two. Anders’ achievement was that he managed to double the energy density in a molecule that can hold its shape for a hundred years. Our only problem now is how we get it to release the energy again. The molecule does not seem to want to change its shape back again”, grins Mogens Brøndsted.

During his Bachelor studies Anders Bo Skov had four months to improve Brøndsted’s unstable molecule for his bachelor project. And he made it in the nick of time. Chemistry is a lot like baking. No bread is likely to come out of the oven if, for example, the flour disappears while the dough is proving. Using that analogy, Skov’s “bread” persisted in disappearing between his very hands. The molecules he was working with were that unstable.

“My chemical “recipe” demanded four synthesis steps in order to work. The first three were a piece of cake. I had them working in just a month. Getting the last step in order took me three months”, tells Skov.

Regardless of method, when you store energy there is a theoretical limit to the energy density… And then there is reality. In theory a kilogram of the right molecules could store a megajoule of energy if they were perfectly designed. With that amount of energy you can heat three liters of water from room temperature to boiling.

A kilo of Skov’s molecules can boil only 75 centiliters but it does that in just three minutes. This means that his molecules could bring to the boil 15 liters of water per hour and Skov as well as his supervisor are convinced that this is just the beginning.

“What Anders has achieved is an important breakthrough. Admittedly we do not have a good method to release the energy on demand and we should increase the energy density further still. But now we know which path to take in order to succeed”, says a visibly enthusiastic professor Mogens Brøndsted. Skov too is excited: Mostly because his molecules are sustainable on more levels than just the obvious one. Not only do they harvest sustainable solar energy. They are also completely non-toxic, he relates.

“When it comes to storing solar power our biggest competition comes from lithium ion batteries and lithium is a poisonous metal. My molecule releases neither CO2, nor any other chemical compounds while working. It is “Sunlight in-power out”. And when the molecule wears out one day it degrades to a colorant which is also found in chamomile flowers”, explains the Masters student.

Despite all the frustrations under ways, Skov has become so excited about his bachelor project that he has brought it with him into his Master’s programme. Normally Master students will start the programme by taking courses for a year, before turning to the research for their thesis. Skov on the other hand just stayed in the lab after his bachelor project. He is affiliated with the Center for Exploitation of Solar Energy in order to pursue his ideas for tweaking the sun-catcher molecule. Now he wants it to release the energy on demand. And the 25 year-old Masters student is brimming with ideas for the construction of such a compliant molecule.

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146 thoughts on “New chemical recipe to store solar energy, release it as heat, such as for creating steam

  1. What if we didn’t need steam [high energy] to transfer heat to electricity? What if we could use the phase change of ,say, ammonia, from liquid to gas at a low temperature [25C] to create the almost perfect Sterling Engine. Ignored by the “main stream” due to indoctrination that the Carnot Cycle is the only way! A new heat cycle has been invented based on liquid to gas {liquid water to stream} with virtually no temperature change.
    This is how the water is moved from the oceans to the land masses. Evaporation at a grand scale with almost no temperature change. That is not a Carnot Cycle!! It has no name. I will call it the Lurtz Cycle.

      • Ammonia refrigeration cycle is not the thermodynamic cycle that I am proposing!! I am proposing something different. Has everything been discovered?? Do you agree with the one who said ” everything has been discovered; abolish the patent office.

      • Ammonia refrigeration is (or at least used to be) used to liquify CO2, so that wouldn’t be feasible because of guilt by association.

      • I wonder if you can boil 3 litres of room temperature water with just one kilogram of coal, which is solar energy that all read was stored eons ago.
        3,000 grams times 600 calories per gram to heat and boil is 1.8 megacalories. IZZIt 4.187 joules per calorie or the other way round ?
        I get 7.54 Mj required to boil 3 litres of room temperature water.
        I’m afraid his one megajoule isn’t going to boil 3 kilograms of room temperature water.
        Might heat it to 100 deg. C but it ain’t gonna boil it.
        I figure the lump of coal (anthracite) will do the job.
        UN Figueres should outlaw Dihydroazulene-Vinylheptafulvene, and tell Denmark to go with the green program.
        So how much energy does it take to make one Kg of this Di_Vinyl ??
        but good luck to them; interesting concept.
        Coal readily changes its shape when it gives up its stored solar energy. Unfortunately, it too only gives you heat energy, which is the trash form of energy.
        We need to get a better return than turning first class solar EM radiant energy into trash heat.

      • It is possible to boil any amount of water at room temp. If you lower the pressure to 1.77″hg or 60 millibars water will boil at 73deg F. This equates to an altitude of just over 60,000′ or just under 12 miles.

      • It’s called Kalina cycle and already patented. Refrigeration is a heat pump, not a heat engine.
        Lurtz
        You need a temperature difference between the working fluid vs. the boiler and the condenser even at ambient temperature. Heat will not flow without a temperature difference. How will the fluid change phase without heat flow? The ocean is an open system. The water vapor in the air cannot perform useful work to drive a turbine or a piston. Heat engines are a closed system.

    • Right. Absolutely zero change in enthalpy in the transition from liquid phase to gas. And can I interest you in my perpetual motion machine?

      • I didn’t say zero change in enthalpy, you are neglecting the thermodynamic variable involved in evaporation! They don’t teach this in academia, enthalpy does change enormously. For example, water to steam at a constant temperature, 212F. Isn’t there a change of state with energy input? BUT, the temperature didn’t change!!!!!! Water at 212 F, Gas [Steam] at 212 F!!! Is there are temperature change?????

      • jlurtz
        Good idea though instead of refrigeration it is a heat pump cycle. No matter. How about changing colour instead? There are many ways to store energy. A colour change demands a change in molecule shape. It is likely that the student’s molecule changes colour above and below the energy high state.
        There are other ways. Cross-linking, chaining like water does before it freezes, changing crystalline configuration. But I like the idea of a very small delta T with a phase change at the critical point – something like that. Propane might be a good candidate for a phase changing Stirling engine, for example. A Stirling engine working on either side of the condensation line could be quite efficient – certainly better than a standard power station.

      • Crispin in Waterloo
        You got it!! But instead of using electricity for the pumping system, one can use gravity. This means “free energy” for everyone [until the stored energy, solar, or waste energy runs out]. This is not a “perpetual motion machine”. It is a Sterling engine that uses a turbine that can deal with vapor change [unlike the Carnot Cycle turbines]. Existing turbines can only deal with water or gas, I invented a turbine that can deal with the gas to liquid conversion. Note: the old piston steam engines could deal with gas to liquid without damage.

      • Tsk, Tsk, You are correct. This is just one more in a million attempts to produce a perpetual motion machine.
        The phase change idea won’t work. For this idea to yield substantial mechanical work, there will as always need to be a large difference between the “high side” pressure and the “low side” pressure. However, the phase change temperature is quite sensitive to the ambient pressure, so with almost no temperature change in the scheme, any mechanical load put on the system will simply cause the phase change temperature to adjust a bit so that no phase change actually occurs. Hence, no high side, low side pressure difference will actually occur and the wheels will not spin.
        The laws of thermodynamics will not be denied. The physics of this sort of thing has been understood very well since the days of J Willard Gibbs more than 100 years ago.

      • Isn’t there a change of state with energy input? BUT, the temperature didn’t change!!!!!!
        ______________________________
        Confucius, say great axiom: The feasibility of a proposal is always inversely proportional to the number of exclamation marks.
        Ralph

      • In the off chance that anyone is reading this, particularly jlurtz, you’ve “discovered” nothing new. Steam tables capture exactly what you describe, but they use technical terms like “saturated” or “supercritical” to describe the state of the fluid. Yes, phase is accounted for.
        But let’s get back to your “invention” for a moment. How exactly do you change the phase of your material? Let me think, let me think, could it be, um, heat? That’s it, it’s heat! So you are still accepting and rejecting heat from a hot source and a cold sink. I don’t really care what you do with it in the meantime. You can expand the fluid from a liquid to a gas and derive mechanical work (PV), or not. What I know for sure is that the amount of work you can extract is limited by Carnot efficiencies.
        You can go pick up an engineering sophomore thermo text and work through why what I just said is true, or you can continue to believe that unicorns are prancing in your backyard. I know which way I’m betting.

    • You can’t beat Carnot. Because Carnot is first principles. You can use a Sterling Engine if you want but you still can’t beat Carnot. 1 – Tc/Th is the best you can do. .

    • There may not be a temperature change but heat will due to latent heat requirements. Changing a liquid to vapour will rob heat so reducing your total efficiency.

    • Sorry Charlie: The Carnot Cycle is a theoretical analytic device. Any system that transforms heat into another form of work is subject to the limits described by the Carnot Cycle. It is math, not indoctrination. Wikipedia Carnot_cycle.

    • The Lurtz Cycle. Nice ring to it. Where have you set up your prototype, how long have you let it run, and where have you posted the initial data (power to initialize device, amount of fluid to start with, how many cycles per unit time, power output)?

    • “””””…..
      Dr. Strangelove
      May 11, 2015 at 12:02 am
      It’s called Kalina cycle and already patented. Refrigeration is a heat pump, not a heat engine.
      Lurtz
      You need a temperature difference between the working fluid vs. the boiler and the condenser even at ambient temperature. Heat will not flow without a temperature difference. …..”””””
      Don’t forget that “energy” can flow in any direction regardless of Temperature gradients, because of thermal (BB like) EM radiation.
      So long as the materials are above zero kelvin, energy can be lost as radiation, even without heat flow.

      • Heat engines convert heat to mechanical energy. Lurtz and I were describing a heat engine. Solar thermal systems are also a heat engine. Are you describing a heat engine without heat flow?
        When materials decrease temperature from 1 K to 0 K, their molecules stop moving. Heat is just the motion of molecules. Increase or decrease in molecular velocity is what we call “heat flow”

  2. Sounds great! Let’s see if it works.
    My favorite bit about the “if we could store all the sunshine” lines is they completely disregard that other things want that sunshine. Like, oh, say, plants.

    • This is truly exciting Vaporware. No working prototypes, no cost analysis, no data on even a simple lab benchtop setup. Conjecture and supposition. This is not science, it is an entry for Popular Mechanics, right next to the yearly article about flying cars. Similar to an article I recently saw about a miniature MRI unit, that could be used in remote places. Glowing article, with all sorts of conjectures about how it would change doing medicine in remote or dangerous places. Last paragraph ended with a small note about how they would have to figure out some way of using the miniature MRI without several gallons of liquid helium, but they were sure that the problem would get solved soon.

  3. Nature found a way to store solar energy chemically a long time ago and we have been reaping it’s benefits since the Victorians or earlier.

  4. I thought nature had this already covered.
    Photosynthesis to wood.
    Store and burn at will.
    All without expert help or grubbing for government funding.

  5. Carnot said that the amount of energy available for conversion depends on the difference between the source and the sink. The two most popular versions are the Rankine cycle for steam and Brayton cycle for combustion turbines.
    Ammonia is a difficult and dangerous fluid to work with.

    • Forced to use Ammonia since the “great Chlorofluorocarbons” have been determined dangerous to the environment. If you don’t like Ammonia, what is your suggestion of something that has a phase change adjustable under pressure in the temperature range of -40C to +40 C???
      It is not a Carnot Cycle. Read the above. It is a new cycle that does not depend on huge temperature changes [huge is defined at +100C].
      Wood is a long term storage mechanism. What about a mechanism that can use any instantaneous waste heat?

    • Also, is Carnot wrong [[usually], based on type of cycle] when we consider the “evaporation” of liquid to gas? His cycle is based on cold gas to hot gas!!!

    • Just a bit of information about NH3 (just FYI for anyone interested):
      “NH3: The Molecular Battery”
      “Ammonia’s energy density is something like 1/2 of that of diesel fuel. That means if you used NH3 to power a car or truck, you’d get about half the distance driving on a similar sized tank of the respective substances.” Energy Whiz
      The article is thoughtful and apparently well-informed and appears to be fairly balanced (while it enthusiastically promotes the NH3 “battery,” it acknowledges that it is:
      1. Too dangerous for consumer use.
      2. Too expensive for practical application anywhere except very large operations.)
      The stench from the dead maggots tossed into the article about how NH3 isn’t a “greenhouse gas” like CO2 and is “sustainable” (i.e., several statements which unquestioningly assume that the AGW fantasy about human CO2 emissions is fact and not the mere conjecture which it is) is, I think, not so great that you can’t hold your nose and read it.
      {Source: http://energeewhiz.com/?p=305 }

      • I think that NH3 is a GHG since all multi elemental gasses adsorbe and emit IR.

    • Well don’t forget that Carnot also dictated the very specific 4 phase cycle (reversible) that theoretically achieves the Carnot efficiency of 1-Tsink/Tsource.
      No other heat engine cycle achieves the Carnot efficiency.

    • What an interesting comment…I had exactly the opposite thought when I saw it. Where I live (New Zealand) we very rarely see jet contrails…maybe 5 or 6 a year. Our sky is untarnished by these things and I always feel a bit sad about the North American or European skies when I visit. We live in the past and love it!
      Back on topic…Coal is the answer.
      What a shame to have to waste a good young mind and lots of funding on this kind of research when he could be doing something useful for the (third) world.

  6. WOW: one megajoule per kg. That sounds big! it isn’t
    One megajoule is equal to
    947 BTU.
    288 food calories.
    0.278 KWHr.
    Even with the Tesla Powerwall, that much energy can be cycled daily over 10 years for 4 cents.
    0.0001634 barrels of oil equivalent, Less than one cent at $55/bbl.
    I wonder what that magic elixir costs per kg.

    • Stephen Rasey
      May 8, 2015 at 3:46 pm
      “WOW: one megajoule per kg. That sounds big! it isn’t
      One megajoule is equal to
      947 BTU.
      288 food calories.”
      No, 288 food kilocalories or kcal. 1 Joule = a few calories, that’s how I remember it.

  7. Sounds high cost. Also, seems that your synthetic Dihydroazulene-Vinylheptafulvene solar storage system still has some bugs to work out. Ever thought about that poly-carbohydrate called “cellulose” ??? Common in nature, has very stable and predictable properties, very low cost. Made from solar energy plus CO2 and water with a few mineral additives. Never heard of it?? Look out your window. It’s commercial name is “Wood”

  8. Geez … I actually feel dumber from reading this.
    “In theory a kilogram of the right molecules could store a megajoule of energy if they were perfectly designed.”
    Well, a kilogram of ordinary water at room temperature actually stores significantly more energy than that, and this figure is not theoretical. The challenging problem is to be able to do useful work with this energy.
    So they’re trying to increase the specific heat of some material. So what?!
    This story is all the more pathetic in that it touts this bit of mediocre research as having the possibility to save a failed technology like solar power. I guess that this is the best you can expect from the “Center for Exploitation of Solar Energy.” It’s more like the “Center for Exploitation of Solar Energy Research Funding.”

    • The crux of the whole crock l1es here, indeed, Brian:
      “… it touts this bit of mediocre research as having the possibility to save a failed technology like solar power.
      1. Yes, it is “failed.”
      {See the case of Germany here: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/project_syndicate/2012/02/why_germany_is_phasing_out_its_solar_power_subsidies_.html }
      2. Solar “investors” often troll on WUWT and all over the countryside desperately trying to perpetuate the solar sc@m, by whining: “Oh, but the costs of solar panel production are going down rapidly.”
      No. They are not.
      This cobweb is swept aside by Ozzie Zehner (no, I don’t agree with all of his ideas) in the lecture (youtube video) below:
      6:00: That costs of some of the raw materials which comprise small amounts of total are going down, e. g., polysilicon (less than 5% of total) will never reduce cost of production to break-even.

      3. Solar “investors” whining: “Oh, but new technology breakthroughs like ‘the Dihydroazulene-Vinylheptafulvene system’ (safe as a cup of chamomile tea) make solar a viable option” is another cobweb and it, too, was swept aside and trampled into dust above by all of you WONDERFULLY ABLE WUWT SCIENTISTS (what a delight to read your witty and highly informed comments!).
      GO, WUWT!
      #(:))
      I love this place! (and you people) You scientists make learning fun!

      • “… swept aside and trampled into dust above {and below} by all of you … .”
        #(:))

      • Janice, thanks for the video link. It’s a good reminder that energy conservation is part of the mix, though I think conservation on Zehner’s scale would require lifestyle changes imposed from above.

      • You’re welcome, Gary (and thank you for telling me). I must say that I do NOT think energy conservation should be part of the mix. That is a personal philosophy issue. Free market pricing should drive conservation (i.e., conservation should be determined by supply/demand, not ideas about lifestyle, Precautionary Fallacy, etc…).
        I should have made it clear that I do NOT recommend that video after about minute 15:00. (Glad YOU were pleased with Zehner’s message, though.)
        I just find his solar power facts great evidence against the Envirostalinists!
        #(:))

      • The cost of the solar panels could go down to zero, but the cost of land is not going down; as someone smart said; they aren’t making any more of it.
        Just the cost of erecting a square meter of the cheapest roofing material that can survive a 150 year storm every five or ten years, plus the property taxes on your property “improvement”, will make it uneconomical.
        No you don’t really think the government will let you off from paying property taxes on your real estate improvements.

      • I must say that I do NOT think energy conservation should be part of the mix. That is a personal philosophy issue. Free market pricing should drive conservation (i.e., conservation should be determined by supply/demand, not ideas about lifestyle, Precautionary Fallacy, etc…).

        Janice! I’m seeing you through new eyes. Are you … um … married?
        😉

      • Hi, Max,
        Re: married (or not)
        You know what the coolest thing about your asking is? That such a fact matters. There are men (yes! more than one!!) who IGNORE the gold band on the 4th finger of my left hand!! Ugh.
        To answer you: no. But, I will wear that ring and live accordingly, very likely (God might work a miracle, so I don’t make this absolute), given the facts of the situation, for the rest of my life. I’d rather keep to myself the reason why.
        I realize you were only half-serious, but, others have likely wondered, most or all only idly, no doubt, yet I think the kind thing to do is to make my status clear. Your question gave me the nudge I needed to be forthright and candid. Thus, thank you for asking.
        Janice

      • There are men (yes! more than one!!) who IGNORE the gold band on the 4th finger of my left hand!! Ugh.

        I know. I know. It’s tough being a hottie, isn’t it?
        😉 😉

  9. With that amount of energy [1 megajoule] you can heat three liters of water from room temperature to boiling.
    You know, with PR nonsense such as this, you’d think they’d just be BENDING the truth by using stupid units. But this guy is going for a Masters in Chemistry. The slight of hand here is spectacular.
    Yes, with a megajoule you can indeed raise the temperature of 3 kg of room temperature water.
    1 megajoule = 278,000 calories = 3 kg of water raised by 91 deg C. That much is true.
    But it take s 6.78 megajoules to boil those 3-kg water into steam at 1 atm of pressure.
    James Watt would not be impressed.

    • That, of course, assumes that all of that energy goes into heating water – and nothing is lost at all. Somehow I suspect that if you try to heat real water in real kettle you’ll get lot temperature increase…

    • “A kilo of Skov’s molecules can boil only 75 centiliters but it does that in just three minutes.”
      ===============================================================================
      Whereas, according to the French, fourth Gen nuclear self-breeding reactors claim 50kg of thorium and 50kg U-238 per billion kWh.

  10. Another “not quite there – breakthrough” but we must encourage the kiddies – NO?

  11. So – right from the start the scientific illiteracy rears its ugly head.
    Sure, the planet gets hit by a lot of “sunshine”. But the planet is USING all of the energy that it receives to operate the way it does. If we start removing energy that is currently going into natural processes in any significant amount, we will “break the planet”.
    Taking wind energy away from one place will harm another.
    Blocking sunlight from where it normally goes will cause harm.
    They want to whine and complain about emissions, but see absolutely no downside to attempts to alter the very physics of the planet.
    And then, these idiots want to make condescending remarks to those who warn against their particular brand of ignorance…

    • To be fair, given the amount of sunlight hitting the planet throughout the day, I doubt man’s ability to remove a ‘significant amount’ of that energy to ‘break the planet’. But please carry on speculating, don’t mind me.

      • You could make the same comment about the trivial amount of CO2 we add to the atmosphere. The planet is big, the climate is complex, and humans are so small, stupid, and insignificant that they couldn’t possibly do any harm,

      • Agreed. I came here to escape from alarmist nonsense.
        I don’t think that we should start generating new alarmist crap of our own.

      • Well, as the green eco nuts want to eliminate about 97 percent of the population, I do not think the sun we steal will pose a problem.

      • News from 2001: Renewables cause climate change
        http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028063.300-wind-and-wave-farms-could-affect-earths-energy-balance.html?full=true#.VU4uWZMUZKJ
        …. sucking that much energy out of the atmosphere in Kleidon’s model changed precipitation, turbulence and the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. The magnitude of the changes was comparable to the changes to the climate caused by doubling atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (Earth System Dynamics, DOI: 10.5194/esd-2-1-2011).

      • This comment is to Frosty.
        Notice how the professor Kleidon mixes TeraWatts / TW (unit of Power) with energy (which is measured in Ws, Kwhrs, MWhrs, or Joules, MegaJoules etc..) It just displays absolute ignorance on the side of the author and makes the article immediately a farce.

      • janus
        May 9, 2015 at 9:55 am
        “Notice how the professor Kleidon mixes TeraWatts / TW (unit of Power) with energy (which is measured in Ws, Kwhrs, MWhrs, or Joules, MegaJoules etc..) It just displays absolute ignorance on the side of the author and makes the article immediately a farce.”
        I think you USE his mistake to reject what you want to reject. This will not help invalidating his point though.

  12. There already exists chemicals wich manage to convert light into chemical energy and release it on demand thanks to a catalyser, such as the norbornadiene-quadricyclene cycle, wich already stores about 1 MJ/Liter ( 3400 BTU per gallon, see p 341 http://books.google.fr/books?id=70LaBwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=fr )
    1 MJ/L is forty or fifty time less than the average chemical energy released by oil products. Far better than most batteries, but still half an order of magnitude away. And there is little space for improvment, even on a theoretical basis.
    In order to be a game changer, this new chemical cycle ought to be really “friendly” (non-toxic for human and environment, pipes materials friendly, pumps material friendly) AND cheap AND reliable AND efficient AND time stable.
    At this point, it’s bearly of any interest. Drawers are so full of such “first scientific step to nirvana” …
    (See also a 2011 press release on a nanotube-based molecule http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2011/update-energy-storage-0713
    Another old candidate for this king of application http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja00544a014
    +
    Other researches on norbornadiene and norbornadiene-like molecules : http://scholar.google.fr/scholar?as_ylo=2011&q=norbornadiene+solar+energy+storage&hl=fr&as_sdt=0,5&as_vis=1 )

    • Actually, you underestimating the capacity of batteries.
      Your regular run-off-the-mill Li-Ion battery has about 275Wh/kg of energy density. That would be 0.99MJ.
      In any event, existing battery technology is as good as your “ideal” molecule.

  13. The researcher notes that lithium is “a poisonous metal” and Dihydroazulene-Vinylheptafulvene is “completely non-toxic”. I am skeptical about D-V being a food group, but haven’t been able to locate a MSDS for the compound. Has anyone here found anything about D-V toxicity?

  14. What about just burning fossil fuels. Thats about the same thing plus you can turn it on and off. Problem solved…

  15. Energy storage breakthrough it is. Now we need a stored energy release breakthrough.

  16. The topic is really about temperature differentials and heat flow kinetics. There is not much new news in the dihydroazulene-vinylheptafulvene system (experienced chemists use lower case letters to start the big words).
    Just one example. The energy flow from the earth’s interior heats abundant chemicals like rock minerals and groundwaters. The energy source is just as cheap as the sun’s. One can have a temperature differential of several degrees between deeper and shallower rocks, one can tap large quantities of this energy, one can turn it on and off at will by simple engineering.
    Convert your thought frames from the dihydroazulene-vinylheptafulvene stayem to (say) Iceland’s geothermal harvesting. Where is there a difference in principle, because there is sure a huge difference in anticipated costs?
    Perhaps the authors should not be driven by fairy level thoughts about solar energy. Their chemistry is moderately interesting but it might be a horse being pushed into the wrong stable. I’d suggest looking for less grandiose and more clever uses for this designer system. Their chemical research should not be discouraged – Luddites did that.

    • I think as a replacement for a conventional batteries for transport that we need to explore the use of two reservoirs of redox pairs pumped through a fuel cell, as is being investigated. Research like this might help design a pair that stores much more energy. Maybe by a large drop in entropy when charged (restricted rotation) so that discharge is endothermic and not all the energy is stored as chemical potential.

  17. Coal has 25 to 35 megajoules per kilo, 35 times as much as the D-V molecule. But let’s not be too hard on the young fellow. Mr. Skov, if you can improve the molecule go for energy density. You don’t need 100yrs storage, you need 12 hrs or so and then let er rip. Aim for 10 mega joules/kg. A lot of work obviously has to be done on control. I wouldn’t rest with just fiddling with this molecule. There may be a simple processing step to strip the energy and reuse. Study how the energy is stored. It is some endothermic reaction that might be enhanced or suggest other molecules. A little analytical work needed to discover its secret.
    Think holistically. Maybe the D-V or a better molecule might be used directly to make solar panels that serve as a heat source directly, although I might think on a host of considerations to look for direct conversion to electricity. Heat needs to be “high quality” to be useable efficiently.
    Hey, methane is, according to warming proponents 1000 times more absorptive of LWR than CO2. If 400ppm CO2 can heat a whole planet up 5 C or more, lets make solar panels facing away from the sun and picking up LWR. You need a sense of humor big enough to laugh at yourself to even think that such a think is worth looking at, since it is so reviled by those of the renewable persuasion.
    Finally, think simple. Quick lime releases a bit more than 1 megajoule per kg when you add 350grams of water. When I was a first year student in chemistry the old “hold this crucible for me while I pour in some water” trick was pulled on me. It burnt like hell. I had this wonderful idea for heating up food, keeping coffee warm and even survival gloves with the stuff in a layer for winter extremes in the field. Yeah, I know someone else went ahead and invented it about 25 yrs later. Lime is cheap, it an be re-conditioned with heating (you’d have to multiply the heat a bit from solar panels though or go for cheap natural gas.
    Good luck.

    • So just what wavelengths or wave numbers does methane absorb, and just how much of either solar spectrum, or earth LWIR spectrum energy is in that band ??
      If we simply burn the methane, we get 1000 times less LWIR absoeption plus we get whole lot of energy.
      We should seek out that methane, anywhere we can find it. And burn it.

  18. Sounds nice in theory – but I would be deeply concerned about living next to a large scale semi stable reservoir of heat.
    For example, consider how much energy you would have to store, to replace a base load of 1Gw for 1 day.
    The energy is 1Gw x 1 day
    = 1000,000,000w x 86400s
    = 8.6 x 10^13 joules of energy
    By an interesting coincidence, Little Boy, the nuclear bomb which destroyed Hiroshima, released a similar magnitude of energy – 63 Terrajoules, or 6.3 x 10^13 joules.
    So if your 1Gw for a day heat reservoir of molecules suddenly all decided to snap back to a stable configuration, the resulting release of heat would be indistinguishable from a 10 kiloton nuclear explosion.
    At least with petrol, the fuel has to mix with oxygen to explode. With this stressed molecule storage, the release of energy appears to be possible without any additional components.

    • Yes, but there won’t be any radiation produced, Thank God! It will be just like a hotflash.

  19. The experiment has only run for 3-4 billion years, given enough ink stained pieces of paper, the grand- children can be saved.
    Seems a small price for someone else to pay.

  20. Here’s another solar storage idea used for centuries: grow corn and hay and store in large wooden barns. When you want to release all that power, simply feed to horses and cattle, attach them to wagons and machinery, and set then to work.
    One problem I see with the idea nowadays is that we’ve converted a lot of the best farmland into housing developments and a lot of the barns have been torn down. Only the Amish are able to make a go of it.

  21. I personally like the approach.
    Notes these developments in the history of life and energy.
    Photosynthesis, digestion and respiration, farming (really a form of extracting mineral energy from soil), mining and petroleum extraction (a form of extracting mineral /fossil fuel as stored energy in rocks-in that both minerals and oil take energy to concentrate to a level beneficial to mine).

  22. It’s good to see a few organic chemists crawling out of the woodwork on this topic. I found this paper that shows the conversion and has a good picture of the molecules. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/j100118a030 (kind of remenicent of some of my graduate work in that olefins are rearranging their bonds). It’s hard to think of this for large scale energy storage as it looks like a pretty low grade heat generator but it seems you could run this through a thin flat panel exposed to UV light (such as from the sun) and store the photo absorbed molecule until needed heat, then run the molecule over a catalyst to release heat while restoring the molecule it to its original state. Repeat the next day when the sun is shining. It would be interesting to see how much material you’d need to store sufficient heat to keep a modest home warm in a cold climate for 2-3 days

  23. I can store solar energy as chemical potential energy by operating a solar cell to make a current, which I can then use for electrolysis.
    Unfortunately, energy obtained in this manner is not cost competitive with alternatives already offered in the private sector.

  24. Great, just what we need. Another means of adding the most potent green house gas to the atmosphere without the benefit of adding plant food…

  25. I made azulene once. As it’s name suggests, it is a fabulous blue color. Probably the most beautiful blue I’ve ever seen. But it’s a loser. Cost, difficulty of synthesis, energy density, stability, the list goes on.

  26. “Anders’ achievement was that he managed to double the energy density in a molecule that can hold its shape for a hundred years.”
    How does he know that?

  27. Someone a few years ago designed a light that was powered by lifting a weight and then converting that to electricity. Couldn’t you rig something like that, maybe using a pulley system to raise the weight and then when released, you could produce power on the way down, like the braking systems for cars that recharges the battery. A big weight can be easily stored.
    We live in a gravity well, and I’ve heard it’s pretty deep. Except there is almost no gravity at the center, just lots of pressure.

    • Tim Huck
      You ask

      Couldn’t you rig something like that, maybe using a pulley system to raise the weight and then when released, you could produce power on the way down, like the braking systems for cars that recharges the battery. A big weight can be easily stored.

      The method is called ‘pumped storage’ and is used in many places.
      I think you may want to read e.g. this.
      Richard

      • Did I not read that in Germany, a number of pumped storage facilities were being decommisioned because of green energy? I am too lazy to go look it up, but it had to do with the fact that solar and wind were being subsidized and/or the storage facilities couldn’t afford the higher rates for electricity required by the green energy regulations.
        BTW, a pumped storage facility for the Hudson River near Cornwall NY was killed years ago by the greens.
        As I recall they wanted to use the power from the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The rich folks didn’t want the power lines spoiling their view. They just lined up group after group to go to court, each case taking months to years to litigate. Finally, some fishermen from Massachusetts or somewhere suing over possible harm to the fishery was the final straw. The greens were learning that it doesn’t matter if you lose a lawsuit since the delay caused by the suit was often enough to kill a project.
        Back then, the greens were pushing coal and oil fired power plants. Their big fear was nuclear.

        • Niagara’s “pumped storage” ponds uphill of the Robert Moses power plant were viciously opposed by the locals back in the 1950’s and 60’s- and that was only for a few hundred additional acres of the several total acres needed for the new lake (part of the dikes covered Indian territory granted before the 1800’s), so your observation about enviro’s opposing all energy is well-founded.
          In a certain way, Germany’s “pumped storage” is actually just regular hydro across the water in Norway and Sweden conventional dams. Hydro power is instantly available to back up the minute-by-minute changes in wind power. “Chasing wind” destroys the very hot, very high pressure coal and gas turbine pressure vessels by increasing the stress changes across their 3 and 4 inch thick cast steel casings every hour. The gas turbines and generators are built to come up to a high temperature and stay there, not to be continually cycled back and forth from 1800 degrees hot to cold back to hot back to cold again and again and again.

      • joel
        I am not aware of the pumped storage facilities closures you assert in Germany, and I would be interested to learn of them.
        The main benefit of pumped storage is that it removes the very high cost of needing to operate a few power stations continuously so they can provide the minutes of peek power demand each day: the pumped storage generates during those minutes. Hence, pumped storage saves much money. As it says in the link I provided for Tim Huck

        Pumped storage is an essential solution for grid reliability, providing one of the few large-scale, affordable means of storing and deploying electricity

        Richard

      • joel
        May 9, 2015 at 5:16 am
        “Did I not read that in Germany, a number of pumped storage facilities were being decommisioned because of green energy? I am too lazy to go look it up, but it had to do with the fact that solar and wind were being subsidized and/or the storage facilities couldn’t afford the higher rates for electricity required by the green energy regulations.”
        You misremember. EON and others are pondering whether to decommission gas peaker plants – the number of hours in a year that they are used and can make their profits has dropped to a point that they are uneconomic.
        http://notrickszone.com/2015/03/18/green-progress-worlds-most-efficient-gas-fired-turbines-to-get-shut-down-due-to-energiewende/#sthash.Avub6Qby.dpbs

    • Tim Huck
      May 8, 2015 at 10:31 pm
      “A big weight can be easily stored.”
      I once helped in the development of a battery pack for household overnight storage of roof mounted solar panel electricity production. Our system stored, I don’t know, 40 kWh or so. So I calculated how much water you would have to store in the attic of a 2 storey house to store the same energy as potential energy. Pumped storage on a household basis basically. So, 100 tons of water would do. A bit bulky; if you use a heavy metal, with a specific weight of 16 kg/l, you could bring the volume down to 6 cubic meters, and lift and drop the weight using some spring system as needed. Quite doable, and most definitely one of the funnier ways of storing energy.

  28. Friends
    The article says

    “Regardless of what we did to prevent it, the molecules would change their shape back and release the stored energy after just an hour or two. Anders’ achievement was that he managed to double the energy density in a molecule that can hold its shape for a hundred years. Our only problem now is how we get it to release the energy again. The molecule does not seem to want to change its shape back again”, grins Mogens Brøndsted.

    So, the article reports that the method does not work.
    The reported method merely sequesters energy and stores the energy where it cannot be used and cannot be released for use.
    Of course, the method could be worse. The energy could all be released at once: this would have similar effect to a detonator releasing the energy stored in gelignite.
    Fuels are stores of energy that release the energy in controlled manners and appropriate rates.
    Richard

  29. My Atmos mantle clock runs on the expansion of Ethyl Chloride. One degree of temperature change or 3mmHg barometric pressure change will keep it running for 2 days. I only touch it twice a year for DST.

    • lololololLOLOLOLOLOLOOLOLOLOLOLOOLlolol — I — have — seen that guy! He rides in Seattle… he rides in Bellingham in San Francisco in…. he is EVERYWHERE.
      Bike Man.

      • And here he is today. Got therapy. Out of denial about dope. Got healthy. Borrowed his Mom’s car for a couple years while he saved up….
        Chevy Pick-up ad (youtube)

        And he — is — BACK! (back to where he had not been since he turned 13)
        There’s hope. Someday, most guys like him actually do figure it out. Yes, even YOUR son (or daughter)! Happy Mother’s Day (to all you dads who were the real mom in the home, too)!

  30. I am tired of these articles and this debate. None of them deal with the real solar energy problems:
    1. Solar energy is diffuse. No matter how you gather it you will have to build something very very big to gather industrially useful quantities of energy. How big? Square miles big.
    2. The sun provides no more than 4380 hours of energy per year. Even if you have a storage system. You need to build enough capacity so that the storage system provides energy on the coldest darkest night of the year. In other words, to keep Anders Bo Skov warm in January, he will have to brew his juice in June and store it safely away for 6 months. More capital equipment.
    The cost of land and fixtures alone will be unaffordable.

  31. Now a student at Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen has researched his way to a breakthrough which may prove pivotal for technologies trying to capture the energy of the sun, and saving it for a rainy day.
    That would be Fossil fuel then?

  32. Mediterranean hornets are using some kind of a photosynthesis mechanism to store additional energy that allows them to stay in flight longer in sunny weather. Could be interesting to find out, how they do it. Granted, hornets are not the friendliest of research subjects.
    P.S. It is snowing hard outside, with lightnings. May 9th, South San Juan mountains, Colorado.

  33. For those wanting to go a little more “off grid”, how about various forms of solar and wind “vaporators” (TM StarWars) on a hill draining their product into tanks which in turn gravity feed past various types of water wheels providing various kinds of mechanical energy (keeping led lights going and 12v and 5v electronic devices charged ?). Water then keeps header tanks for toilet flushing filled then overflow goes on to ponds a hydroponic tanks where one grows fish’n’other kinds of food, then overflow goes into garden and the ground and/or stream … and/or the water tanks of your neighbours down the hill to be used the same way before finally making its way to local streams and rivers, etc. Limitless / constantly replenishing water to be found in our atmosphere ready to be harvested, used, and returned by gravity to its source. All that is needed is energy cheap enough to make its extraction worthwhile. Like the kind of cheap energy used on boats to create fresh water. IE, sun and wind. 🙂 Ah, but no use for the likes of Big Government and the UN (etc etc) if everyone was able to produce their own power and clean water, so I guess we should expect to see Max Whisson’s inventions and idea becoming mainstream any time soon. In fact, what has happened in that regard since this was published ? http://www.intmath.com/blog/environment/water-from-the-air-using-windmills-1003 Such ‘vaporators’ could be great for rural Australia. Obviously no such need for such things where there are seasonally snow covered mountains. All that energy collecting every year and then melting away to not be used particularly effectively in terms of creating energy independence.
    [Yes, we know it reads like an advertisement. 8<) But you need to understand how some people feel "energy" is easily made, stored, and distributed. .mod]

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