Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Sanoh Industrial developed a very stable battery cell that can directly convert heat into electricity, thus finally providing a way for exploiting geothermal energy in a sustainable way.
In a world where energy consumption is on the rise, our only hope is the development of new energy-generation technologies. Although currently used renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy have their merits, there is a gigantic, permanent, and untapped energy source quite literally under our noses: geothermal energy.
Generating electricity from geothermal energy requires devices that can somehow make use of the heat within the Earth’s crust. Recently, a team of scientists at Tokyo Tech, led by Dr. Sachiko Matsushita, have made great progress in the understanding and development of sensitized thermal cells (STCs), a kind of battery that can generate electric power at 100 ? or less.
Several methods for converting heat into electric power exist, however, their large-scale application is not feasible. For example, hot-and-cold redox batteries and devices based on the Seebeck effect are not possible to simply bury them inside a heat source and exploit them.
Dr. Matsushita’s team have previously reported the use of STCs as a new method for converting heat directly into electric power using dye-sensitized solar cells. They also replaced the dye with a semiconductor to allow the system to operate using heat instead of light. Figure 1 illustratively represents the STC, a battery that consists of three layers sandwiched between electrodes: an electron transport layer (ETM), a semiconductor layer (germanium), and a solid electrolyte layer (copper ions). In short, electrons go from a low-energy state to a high-energy state in the semiconductor by becoming thermally excited and then get transferred naturally to the ETM. Afterwards, they leave through the electrode, go through an external circuit, pass through the counter electrode, and then reach the electrolyte. Oxidation and reduction reactions involving copper ions take place at both interfaces of the electrolyte, resulting in low-energy electrons being transferred to the semiconductor layer so that the process can begin anew, thus completing an electric circuit.
However, it was not clear at that time whether such a battery could be used as a perpetual engine or if the current would stop at some point. After testing, the team observed that electricity indeed stopped flowing after a certain time and proposed a mechanism explaining this phenomenon. Basically, current stops because the redox reactions at the electrolyte layer stop owing to the relocation of the different types of copper ions. Most importantly, and also surprisingly, they found out that the battery can revert this situation itself in the presence of heat by simply opening the external circuit for some time; in other words, by using a simple switch. “With such a design, heat, usually regarded as low-quality energy, would become a great renewable energy source,” states Matsushita.
The team is very excited about their discovery because of its applicability, eco-friendliness, and potential for helping solve the global energy crisis. “There is no fear of radiation, no fear of expensive oil, no instability of power generation like when relying on the sun or the wind,” remarks Matsushita. Further refinements to this type of battery will be the aim of future research, with the hope of one day solving humanity’s energy needs without harming our planet.
The Latest on: Geothermal energy
via Google News
The Latest on: Geothermal energy
- Old oil wells not suited for geothermal useon June 4, 2020 at 2:02 pm
A recent announcement of $1.7 billion in federal funding to help remediate oil wells has resurrected an old question: Do those old oil wells on the back ...
- Indonesia takes out $300 million loan for 2 Java geothermal plantson June 4, 2020 at 2:08 am
The Asian Development Bank is the lender behind the funds to help expand renewable energy Indonesia has taken out a $300 million loan from the Asian Developmen ...
- Croatia launches tenders for geothermal energy explorationon June 3, 2020 at 12:09 pm
Croatia has launched tenders for geothermal energy exploration on four blocks in the country's northern and eastern areas, the Agency for Hydrocarbons (AZU) said in a statement on Wednesday.
- Renewable energy projects get a pandemic break from IRSon June 3, 2020 at 3:15 am
Deadline for finishing projects benefitting from the renewable energy tax credit was extended because of pandemic-driven construction delays.
- Investment of $65m announced for geothermal greenhouse operations in Aydin, Turkeyon June 1, 2020 at 1:55 pm
EG Enerji signed agreement on up to $65 million development of geothermal greenhouse operations and food dehydration processing in Aydin, Turkey.
- Dutch government wants to further accelerate geothermal developmenton June 1, 2020 at 1:51 pm
The Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate in the Netherlands announces efforts to further accelerate geothermal development in the Netherlands with faster permitting to help speed up drilling among ...
- Green income trusts could accelerate Canada’s energy transitionon June 1, 2020 at 8:55 am
Research into income trusts shows that they once helped increase investments in oil and gas. They could do so again — but this time targeted towards low-carbon technologies.
- Opinion: Drilling for geothermal energy is a green new deal for both sides of the aisleon May 29, 2020 at 8:18 am
Let’s get the oil and gas industry, geothermal industry together to lay out a framework for robust collaboration.
- Shifting to electric transport is still a game changer — even if it’s not charged by renewable energyon May 28, 2020 at 2:03 am
New Zealand is indeed well supplied with renewable electricity. In recent years, New Zealand has averaged 83% from renewable sources (including 60% hydropower, 17% geothermal, and 5% wind) and 17% ...
- Carbfix and Eavor, Geothermal Innovators of the Yearon May 27, 2020 at 11:55 am
The Carbfix processcaptures CO 2 and other sour gases from emission sources, transforming them into rocks underground in less than two years. This overturns the common view that m ...
via Bing News