MIT team breaks the ice with new heat storing material developed based on a simple and scalable method. Harnessing the heat of the sun may prove rather challenging at times due to weather conditions. What if heat could be stored by a material which then releases the energy triggered by simple stimuli?
That is the question that backed the MIT team’s research. With the new heat storing material a wide array of applications could soon ensue. Think clothing items that could store heat and release it afterwards just when you need it most. Or the walls of your house blanketed in this type of heat storing material that could release the energy to maintain a cosy temperature and bring costs to a minimum.
The sun provides us with an inexhaustible source of energy to power all types of applications. Solar panels are the most commonly used means to harness solar energy. However, during nighttime or cloudy days, capturing solar energy becomes a nuisance. As such, the MIT team thought of a more stable and simple way to store and release the sun’s energy. The method involves chemical reactions and is fairly simple. The article published in the Advanced Energy Materials journal explains how the MIT team breaks the ice with new heat storing material.
The newly developed material is a transparent polymer film. The polymer film can capture solar energy only to release it at a later time triggered by different stimuli.
The key to the team’s ice-breaking findings are molecules with two different configurations. Both configurations keep the molecules stable. These molecules are known as azobenzenes. When the transparent polymer film is exposed to sunlight, the molecules become charged with solar energy. This configuration can be stably maintained for a prolonged period of time.
However, a number of stimuli triggers the shift to a different configuration. When the solar energy charged molecules are exposed to a specific temperature for instance, they return to their original configuration. In the process, the azobenzenes molecules also release heat.
The team’s findings suggested that the transparent polymer film based on the azobenzenes molecules can release heat burst which reach up to 10 degrees Celsius above the environmental temperature.
During tests, the heat storing material was used on the windshield of a car. Basically, when the transparent polymer film was exposed to a certain temperature is released heat which melted a thin layer of ice. This caused the rest of the ice to simply fall down from the rest of the windshield.
The ice-breaking heat storing material could prove to be the best insulation material up to date. While insulation materials keep heat for a while, this will inevitably dissipate. With the transparent polymer film come a number of benefits.
Firstly, it can be used to ‘coat’ a number of items as it is transparent. And second, it is certain that it will not let heat dissipate as it stores it and releases it only when certain conditions are met.
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