Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brown liquor and solar cells to provide sustainable electricity

Date:
March 22, 2012
Source:
Linköping University
Summary:
A breakthrough for inexpensive electricity from solar cells, and a massive investment in wind power, will mean a need to store energy in an intelligent way. According to new research batteries of biological waste products from pulp mills could provide the solution.

Solar panels and wind turbines. A breakthrough for inexpensive electricity from solar cells, and a massive investment in wind power, will mean a need to store energy in an intelligent way.
Credit: © James Steidl / Fotolia

A breakthrough for inexpensive electricity from solar cells, and a massive investment in wind power, will mean a need to store energy in an intelligent way. According to research at Linköping University, published in Science, batteries of biological waste products from pulp mills could provide the solution.

Organic solar cells based on conductive plastic is a low cost alternative that has achieved high enough performance to be upscaled and, in turn, become competitive. However, solar electricity must be able to be stored from day to night, as well as electricity from wind turbines from windy to calm days.

In conventional batteries metal oxides conduct the charge. Materials, such as cobalt, are expensive and a limited resource, therefore, low cost solutions are sought preferably with renewable materials.

"Nature solved the problem long ago," says Olle Inganäs, professor of biomolecular and organic electronics at Linköping University (LiU) and lead author of the article in a recent edition of Science.

He drew inspiration from the process of photosynthesis, where electrons charged by solar energy are transported by quinones; electrochemically active molecules based on benzene rings composed of six carbon atoms. Inganäs chose the raw material brown liquor that is a by-product from the manufacture of paper pulp. The brown liquor is largely composed of lignin, a biological polymer in the plant cell walls.

To utilise the quinones as charge carriers in batteries, Inganäs and his Polish colleague Grzegorz Milczarek devised a thin film from a mixture of pyrrole and lignin derivatives from the brown liquor. The film, 0.5 microns in thickness, is used as a cathode in the battery.

The goal is to offer ways to store renewable electricity where it is produced, without constructing up large grids. In several countries, major wind power investments are planned. Meanwhile, the performance of cheap organic solar cells has now reached a critical level. A research team at the University of California, Los Angeles, has recently reported efficiency of more than 10 percent of the energy of the captured sunlight.

According to Inganäs who for many years conducted research on organic solar cells, the efficiency is sufficient to initiate an industrial scale up of the technology.

"Now we need more research into new energy storage based on cheap and renewable raw materials. Lignin constitutes 20-30 percent of the biomass of a tree, so it's a source that never ends."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Linköping University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Grzegorz Milczarek and Olle Inganäs. Renewable Cathode Materials from Biopolymer/Conjugated Polymer Interpenetrating Networks. Science, 2012 DOI: 10.1126/science.1215159]

Cite This Page:

Linköping University. "Brown liquor and solar cells to provide sustainable electricity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322142155.htm>.
Linköping University. (2012, March 22). Brown liquor and solar cells to provide sustainable electricity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322142155.htm
Linköping University. "Brown liquor and solar cells to provide sustainable electricity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322142155.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins