Radio show Living on Earth did a segment in February on new technology to store and release solar heat. Here is host Steve Curwood on his outing to MIT to learn about the breakthrough.
“A team of researchers at MIT has come up with a chemical that would let windshield glass directly store solar energy and then release it on demand as heat to melt the ice. … The same chemical could be woven into clothing fibers to capture the sun’s energy and then give you some added warmth when you ask for it, even days later.
“I paid a visit to the lab where the MIT team has been working on this breakthrough and met up with researchers David Zhitomirsky and Eugene Cho, who work in the lab of professor Jeffrey Grossman.”
To Curwood’s question about the difference between the familiar electrical, battery-enabled solar technology and the MIT lab’s chemical version, Zhitomirsky replies,”We use these molecules that can absorb UV light and instead of generating charges, what they do is that they change shape, and by changing shape, they can store chemical energy …
“CURWOOD: OK, so sunlight hits this molecule, it changes shape and can storage its energy. And how do you get the energy out?
“ZHITOMIRSKY: So you can figure the material in several ways. One way is to add a small amount of heat, and the material will release more heat than you add in. The other methods are triggering it with light or you can apply an electrical field to the material. …
“The way we envision using it is to integrate into fibers that you then make clothing out of.” More here.
Release solar heat from my coat in a blizzard? Where do I sign up?
Photo: Helen Palmer
Living on Earth host Steve Curwood, right, in the MIT lab with Eugene Cho and David Zhitomirsky.