Innovation Sphere

Researchers

  • Fuqiang Liu
  • Zi Wei
  • Husain Almakrami

Communicate

Details

Project TitleSolar Cells with Built-in Storage Capability
Track Code2017-009
Short Description

Solar cell for simultaneous electricity generation and storage during the day and use or discharge at night. 

MassCEC Catalyst award receiving technology 2017

Abstract

This technology utilizing electro-active redox couples as energy-efficient media to store solar energy through photoelectrochemical reactions. A high-capacity storage material integrated in the cell undergoes reversible photochromic switching, allowing for simultaneous electricity generation and storage during the day and use or discharge at night. 

 
Tagssolar, energy, dye-sensitized solar cell, storage, on-site energy storage, electricity
 
Posted DateOct 5, 2017 6:23 PM

Researcher

Name
Fuqiang Liu
Zi Wei
Husain Almakrami

Manager

Name
Vijayendra Kumar

Background

Today solar cells are typically coupled with rechargeable batteries to improve reliability and availability of energy. Solar energy is first converted to electricity and subsequently to chemical energy. Conventional devices add a solar power component to a storage device such as a battery, supercapacitor, thermoelectric generator, H2 fuel cell, etc. To accommodate this, smart load switch controllers have to be employed in the cell module to allow photo-charge and discharge under different conditions. The major shortcomings of this approach are high fabrication cost, complexity in operation, slow response to rapid shifts in demand, expensive (in dollar-per-kWh price) electricity and therefore poor efficiency.

Instead, internal integration of storage capability directly into solar cells is more solution attractive for higher efficiency and reliability.

Technology

Professor Fuqiang Liu has developed a technology utilizing electro-active redox couples as energy-efficient media to store solar energy through photoelectrochemical reactions. We can directly store solar energy in the form of chemical energy, avoiding the intermediate step of converting solar energy to electricity. This solar energy storage centers around a high-capacity photochromic electrode in a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) construction. This solar cell allows for simultaneous electricity generation and storage during the day and use or discharge at night.

             A high-capacity storage material integrated in the cell undergoes reversible photochromic switching, allowing for efficient photo-charge during the day and discharge at night.

Competitive Advantages

  • Efficient and low-cost solar energy generation and storage
  • Generate/store electricity during the day and discharge at night
  • On-site energy storage capability eliminates the need for an external storage device
  • Independently scalable power and energy densities
  • Works even in cloudy weather conditions

Applications

  • Solar energy generation and storage device
  • Portable solar power and rechargeable device
  • Foldable solar batteries 
  • Small-scale end-users e.g. Homes, Schools, Hospitals and Offices
  • Grid-scale installation: Commercial distributed generation and Utility scale applications

Market Potential

The growing renewable energy market has created a big demand for on-site energy storage. As per latest energy storage report by GTM research, the energy storage is expected to grow to about 2.6 GW in 2022 from 221 MW in 2016. The U.S. market alone for these devices is approximately $31B.

About the inventor

Fuqiang Liu is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UMass Lowell, where he leads the Electrochemical Energy Lab. Upon receiving his PhD degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Penn State in 2006, he worked at United Technologies Research Center as a senior researcher (2006-2009). Prior to his current position, he was an Assistant Professor (2009-2015) and then Associate Professor (2015-2016) at University of Texas at Arlington.

Patent

UML 2017-009; Pending, World-wide protection available

Publications

Contact

Vijayendra Kumar, PhD

Licensing Associate

Office of Technology Commercialization, UMass Lowell

Ph.: 978-934-4714; Email: Vijayendra_Kumar@uml.edu   

Files

File Name Description
MassCEC Catalyst Award 2017.pdf MassCEC catalyst award Download