Canadian researchers at the University of Toronto are showing off a new method of renewable energy storage that utilizes the laws of photosynthesis as it happens in nature. Mimicking the process of photosynthesis will allegedly lead to a sustainable, renewable answer to energy storage on a grand scale.
The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering is behind this and has created a device to put their hypothesis to work. The device splits water into hydrogen and oxygen – like plants do – leading to what the team says is the most efficient way of storing energy in a chemical form.
Credit: Marit Mitchell, University of Toronto
Edward Sargent, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, spoke to DesignNews, and said: “The research identifies a new path to split water using electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. The improvement in this new catalyst is that it significantly reduces the energy required to split water at a high rate — a high intensity of fuel electrosynthesis.”
The team thinks the device could change the way energy produced by solar and wind is stored. Lithium-ion batteries are used to store and the team is sure that their invention can compliment the current hunger for renewable energy storage.
Sargent said: “A kilowatt hour of electrical power could be stored with less total loss — i.e. it could come closer to being a stored kilowatt hour. This would in turn improve the cost-effectiveness of storage, since people are generally willing to pay a certain rate for a retrieved kilowatt hour, so the energy storage round-trip efficient contributes directly to cost-effectiveness.”