New Tech: Charging Crystals with Solar Energy

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Clean Energy Innovation: Charging Crystals with Solar Power

Engineers are currently developing a groundbreaking clean energy solution that involves charging crystals with solar energy to extreme temperatures. This process could potentially serve as a more environmentally friendly alternative to the carbon-intensive methods used in steel smelting and cement production.

New Technology Unveiled

The innovative technology, as detailed in a newly published proof-of-concept study in Device, exploits a unique property of quartz that allows it to harness sunlight. By attaching a synthetic quartz rod to a silicon disk designed for energy absorption, researchers investigated the structure’s capacity to retain heat. Subjecting the apparatus to energy equivalent to sunlight from 136 Suns, they observed that the rod reached a temperature of around 1,112 degrees F (600 degrees C), while the absorber plate peaked at 1,922 degrees F (1,050 degrees C).

According to Emiliano Casati, an engineer at ETH Zurich and the study’s corresponding author, “People often associate energy solely with electricity, but in reality, approximately half of all energy is utilized in the form of heat. Addressing climate change necessitates the decarbonization of energy sources on a broader scale.”

Addressing Climate Concerns

Historically, solar receivers, devices that concentrate heat from sunlight-reflecting mirrors, have struggled to effectively manage solar energy at temperatures exceeding 1,832 degrees F (1,000 degrees C). Many prevalent carbon-heavy industrial processes, such as glass, steel, and cement manufacturing, mandate temperatures at or surpassing this threshold, typically achieved through burning fossil fuels. For instance, cement production alone accounted for roughly 8% of CO2 emissions in 2023, while glass melting contributed approximately 95 million tons of anthropogenic carbon emissions.

By integrating quartz into manufacturing processes, industries could potentially harness sunlight to attain the requisite high temperatures for working with steel, glass, and cement, thereby reducing dependence on environmentally deleterious practices.

Future Prospects and Research

Aside from conducting experimental trials, the research team employed modeling techniques to evaluate the setup’s efficiency, revealing that quartz significantly enhances the receiver’s performance. Their simulations indicated that an unshielded receiver attained 40% efficiency at 2,192 degrees F (1,200 degrees C), while the same receiver, shielded with 11.8 inches (300 millimeters) of quartz, registered a 70% efficiency at the same temperature.

Moving forward, the researchers are exploring additional materials, including fluids and gases, capable of acting as thermal traps. Implementation of these substances, with their heat-retaining properties, could markedly enhance the effectiveness of renewable energy solutions, aiming to eventually supplant the dominance of fossil fuels in the energy landscape.

Additional Reading: Texans Vote in Favor of Billions for Fossil Fuels, Leaving Out Renewables as an Option

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About Post Author

Chris Jones

Hey there! 👋 I'm Chris, 34 yo from Toronto (CA), I'm a journalist with a PhD in journalism and mass communication. For 5 years, I worked for some local publications as an envoy and reporter. Today, I work as 'content publisher' for InformOverload. 📰🌐 Passionate about global news, I cover a wide range of topics including technology, business, healthcare, sports, finance, and more. If you want to know more or interact with me, visit my social channels, or send me a message.
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