Overnight storage has been the nemesis of the solar power industry. The sun sets, power stops. It is certainly easy to produce a lot of power from the sun, but how does one store it? Companies are coming online that provide solutions to store sunlight.
Regular batteries for solar storage have been 20th century technology that needs to be updated for the 21st. Batteries are getting better. (See our post of a few weeks ago about CellCube Vanadium batteries). But there may be other solutions to solar power storage.
Solar fuels might be the juice that solves part of that solar storage problem.
Biofuels Digest compares CO2 fuels to photosynthesis, the natural process by which plants convert CO2: “waste CO2 utilization, bypassing biomass, and making target fuels and chemicals directly from the same inputs that plants use to make biomass in the first place.”
The article asks readers to focus on “solar fuels. Is there anything in this class of technologies that might prove out the potential of a new way of storing solar energy, as liquid fuel?”
One of the solar fuel pioneers is Joule Unlimited. Credited with creating the term “solar fuels,” Joule uses “modified cyanobacteria to produce Sunflow-brand jet fuel, diesel and ethanol in a facility in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Another up and comer in this new arena is Liquid Light.
Biofuels Digest, says, “One of the most interesting of these is Liquid Light, which emerged from stealth mode in the past year, and focuses on electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 to useful fuels and chemicals. The company’s first process is for the production of ethylene glycol (MEG), with a $27 billion annual market.”
Liquid Light converts waste that does have to be disposed of in an environmentally-sustaining manner to fuel. There is a lot more serious science in the Biofuels Digest article. The conclusion is, “There’s increasing evidence that a scaleable process to store solar energy as a liquid chemical at standard temperature and pressure is on the way.”It is like storing sunlight in a bottle.
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