Danish student develops molecule that harvests solar energy by changing shape

In a major breakthrough, a danish student has developed a molecule that can harvest solar energy that can play a substantial role in world’s struggle to find a feasible non-conventional energy source before our conventional sources or energy like coal, petrol, diesel get extinct. The research claims that can energy in the molecule can be stored to be used in rainy days.

Anders Bo Skov from University of Copenhagen, is working with a special molecule named Dihydroazulene-Vinylheptafulvene system to store the solar energy and release it on demand to fulfill the energy needs. The molecule stores energy by changing its shape and size.

The concept of harvesting solar energy by changing shape of molecule isn’t new. Professor Brøndsted, in charge of “Center for Exploitation of Solar Energy” at University of Copenhagen had designed a molecule that worked on the same principle, but the molecule lost its energy within one-two hours and regained its shape back again. Although several attempts were made to store energy for longer duration, but molecules would change their shape and release the stored energy within a short span.

Andres overtook the Brendsted’s unstable molecule during his studies and within a span of four months he was able to design a more stable molecule that would not retract to its original shape by releasing the energy within a short time. However, a new problem arose, the more stable molecule not even stored the energy for a longer period but it refused to revert back to its original shape and release energy on demand.

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”, said Mogens Brøndsted. Brendsted’s further added that atleast now they know which is right path for success.

Andres believes that a kilogram of perfectly designed molecules can store one mega joule of energy sufficient for boiling three liters of water at room temperature. In addition he experimentally showed that 1 kg of molecules could boil 75 centiliters of water in just three minutes, similar to boiling 15 liters of water in an hour.

While further explaining the benefits of the molecule, Andres said that the molecule is environmental friendly and doesn’t releases CO2 and other poisonous chemical compounds like lithium batteries does.

Moreover, the danish student has shown a new way to harvest abundant solar energy. Since, entire world is giving emphasis on the invention of non-conventional sources of energy and making them more cost effective and feasible, this breakthrough might solve the energy demand to a great extent.

The research appeared in the journal Chemistry.

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