Full Spectrum Solar Thermal Energy Harvesting and Storage by Molecular and Phase Change Material Hybrids
Efficient solar thermal energy harvesting and storage is a critical step towards utilization of the abundant solar irradiation on earth's surface. Current solar-thermal approaches rely on costly high optical concentration systems resulting in high heat losses by hot bulk materials and surfaces. At the same time, the energy stored in the form of thermal energy has inherently large temporal losses. Herein, we combine the physics of molecular energy and latent heat storage to introduce an integrated harvesting and storage hybrid paradigm for 24/7 energy delivery. The hybrid paradigm utilizes heat localization during the day to provide a harvesting efficiency of 73% at small-scale and ~90% at large-scale. Remarkably, at night, the stored energy by the hybrid system is recovered with an efficiency of 80% and higher temperature than that of the day in contrast to all the stateof-the-art systems. The integrated hybrid concept and the system open a path for simultaneous harvesting and storage of solar-thermal energy for a wide range of applications including power generation, desalination, and distillation.
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering