A material that stores solar heat "in reserve"
A team of scientists from the University of Lancaster in Great Britain has developed a new method of storing solar energy for up to several months and releasing it as heat when needed. In other words: "reserves" of energy "for the winter" are created on warm sunny days. In theory, the method enables apartments and offices to be additionally heated, which significantly reduces environmental pollution.
The researchers have an organometallic skeleton (known as a MOF), which consists of metal ions combined in 3D structures. The molecules in the pores of these structures are able to absorb UV light and can change their shape when exposed to light or heat. Azobenzene particles - a light absorbing compound (in this case) - can at room temperature Remain trapped until outside heat is added to change it. Tests have shown that the material is able to store energy for more than four months.
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Azobenzene acts as a photoswitch, a molecular machine that reacts to an external stimulus such as light or heat. The supply of heat to the MOF composite leads to a rapid release of energy, also in the form of heat, which can be used to heat other materials or devices. "It works a bit like phase changing materialsthat provide warmth in hand heaters, "Lancaster University Senior Lecturer John Griffin, co-author of research published in Chemistry of Materials, wrote in a press release. The researchers stress that energy storage in a composite solid is simpler and an advantage over solutions which are mainly based on liquid substances and have greater chemical stability.