Storing the Sun’s Energy in Liquid Could Change Solar Forever


The sun puts out a lot of energy, more of
it hits the earth in an hour than humankind could use in a year And we’re really not
taking advantage of it, the US got less than 1% of its electricity from solar power in
2016. If we could get that number higher, we could
run our homes, cars, toaster ovens, all with zero emissions. That’s the dream anyway, some perfect future
with limitless free energy. So what’s in the near future for this future? Where does solar power go from here? One of the big problems is what do we do when
there’s no sun? Like on cloudy days. Or at night time. If we’re going to go all solar, we need
a way to store the sun’s energy.Usually, we’d combine solar panels with rechargeable
batteries, but batteries are pricey and they kinda suck. So researchers in Sweden are working on how
to catch the sun’s energy in a bottle, or at least in a little tube. Those crazy Swedes developed a liquid with
an intriguing property. The molecules in the liquid react when exposed
to light and become isomers; meaning they still have the same makeup, but in a different
arrangement than normal. This new arrangement stores energy, and when
a catalyst is introduced, it shifts the molecules back to their usual structure and releases
the stored energy as heat, which could be used to warm homes at night or generate electricity,
provided enough heat is released. Recently the researchers switched from expensive
ruthenium to the more common elements carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen to build their molecules;
this makes the process cheaper and easier. On top of that, they’ve actually increased
their storage capacity by a hundredfold! Ok so… they could only store 0.01% of the
energy that hit it before… and a hundredfold increase means just 1.1%, but still, progress! Storage isn’t the only issue. The panels themselves are also expensive… If we could make the solar panels cheaper
that would go a long way to creating a competitive source of energy compared to fossil fuels
and other renewables. 90% of photovoltaic cells today use crystalline
silicon, making them expensive to manufacture and the process creates toxic by-products. But an entirely different approach does exist:
Using perovskites. Perovskites have a crystal structure of tetrahedral
arrangements of atoms and molecules, and depending on which elements are used they have different
properties. They could be superconductive, magnetoresistive,
or photovoltaic. Solar cells that use them are cheap and easy
to assemble and could now be on par with silicon cells in terms of energy efficiency. But you may have noticed every rooftop in
sight isn’t covered in perovskites. That’s because they have a fatal flaw: the
cells are unstable, and extreme light levels, temperature, and humidity cause them to decompose. Even normal weather can destroy them, which
is bad because you typically see a lot of weather outside, the place where solar panels
need to be. As a result perovskite cells only function
for several months, compared to silicon cells which can last more than 25 years. But hey, a decade ago perovskite cells only
lasted a few minutes. Again, progress! Scientists are constantly coming up with new
and ingenious ways to make the sun do our bidding, and these are just a couple of things
currently in the works that show promise. Though we don’t use much of it now, breakthroughs
and innovation could lead to a world powered cleanly and sustainably by sunlight. The future of solar power looks bright. There are crazier ideas for solar like putting
panels in space and beaming electricity to Earth, but a massive project like that would
be insanely expensive. They’re fun to ponder though, so Trace covers
some far our geoengineering projects here. Do you have a favorite renewable energy technology
that’s not quite ready yet? Let us know in the comments, so I can see
how many of you say thorium reactors, subscribe for more, and thanks for watching Seeker.

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100 thoughts on “Storing the Sun’s Energy in Liquid Could Change Solar Forever”

  1. China Superpower says:

    What if you could use excess solar power to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis? The electricity could be stored in the form of hydrogen gas in hydrogen tanks and oxygen gas in oxygen tanks during the day. At night, you burn the hydrogen and oxygen to produce heat and water. The heat powers a generator.

  2. lapie dab says:

    why not use glucose to store energy, that's what nature choosed since millions of years?

  3. Cbeddoe19 says:

    The problem with solar power is you need good weather to make use of it.
    There are numerous potential catastrophes that could temporarily block out the sun.
    Massive volcanic eruptions, meteor impact, etc.
    Then what?
    Nuclear is safe and stable and is greener than solar.
    If you want to put solar panels on your house great. Not cost effective in my area $0.10/kw-h. Grid scale power needs to be more reliable though so people don't die in the event that the sun doesn't shine for a week for some reason.

  4. Sean Fagan says:

    Problem are the government look up operation solar warden.

  5. Bob C says:

    Workable fusion reactors would be the answer but why not transition to liquid sodium – thorium reactors in the meantime. They can be a lot cheaper to build and don't have the tendency to melt down when cooling is lost. They also burn 100X more of the fuel you put in them so the waste is much less and not as long lived.

  6. Jadin Andrews says:

    I recently priced a system and was shocked by how cheap the panels were. By the time we have alternatives to silicon, silicon cells will have saturated the market, in my opinion. What we really need is cheap storage, and personally, I hope high voltage DC becomes more mainstream in a domestic setting. Many appliances and electronics these days don't care if they're running on DC or AC. My fridge has an inverter compressor, and microwave has an inverter magnetron, so they too would be fine on DC.

  7. King Palafox says:

    Anyone thinking about liquid energy is better than batteries are wrong.

  8. bgt63 says:

    Sun's energy is already stored in liquid form…'s called oil

  9. Mister Misanthrope says:

    Static panels are pretty much useless. If they're not tracking the sun, then their efficiency is greatly diminished. Even then they're far worse than mechanical generators using wind/water, which are far worse than nuclear.

  10. Kelly Speirs says:

    3:00 But does it look orange?

  11. jonathan berg says:

    Wave power to me seems like it could be an incredible baseline power for the grid.
    Shame it isn't economical yet…

  12. Vladimir Tod says:

    This guy is way more attractive than anyone on Sci Show

  13. Benni C says:

    Peltier-Seebeck effect !! build these elements instead !!

  14. Fitrian Hidayat says:

    Why cant we Just use the surplus electricity generated from ev cell to pump water somewhere high, and let it flow downwards (closed circuit) to generate electricity when needed?

  15. Gabriel Csanalosi says:

    Im a fan of Iining a large satellite dish with small mirrors to create steam to power a generator.

  16. Robert Foedisch says:

    Tidal energy needs to be more recognized

  17. davidsonnow says:

    I’m shaking my head at how complicated engineers and scientists make this problem… Have you ever heard of a thermal battery? Yeah it’s called WATER in an insulated container, you heat it up with solar power and then use the heat energy when the sun is out, your welcome


    Electromagnetic generation works with a prime moved that rotates magnetic fields to produce current. I am I retested in reseach on an "electric brake" that may produce current by putting the brakes to naturally occurring magnetic fields.

  19. Bio-error 1d10t: User unable to create name. says:

    Ahhh… I love sweden. First, they made IKEA, then they made Minecraft, and now this.

  20. Solowarrior1221 says:

    there is only one true way to harness the power of the sun. nuclear fusion.

  21. William Grice says:

    Thorium works on asteroids, Mars and beyond into interstellar space. It's the future. Join or fall behind!

  22. Marty Lynchian says:

    Look at those Obama ears. Solar pannels are for hippies, Nuclear is the future.

  23. Satish Parbhudial says:

    To bad govt will eliminate you trying to bring that to market

  24. Andrew Flowers says:

    How safe are batteries constructed with carbon/ hydrogen/ nitrogen? Sounds like a bomb.

  25. Andrew Flowers says:

    I'm thinking, the general public isn't aware of the power demands of, even a small community. In the coming years, two things will happen: either, societies will invest in lower power technology, or we'll simply become incapable of meeting our power demands. Any idea how much it costs to run a microwave on high, for ten minutes?

  26. James Dunn says:

    Oil is the sun's energy stored in a liquid. Wood is stored sun light as are all usable biological based fuels.

  27. Ed Evans says:

    A man named Tesla almost destroyed Big Energy , but Big Energy wasn't having a bar of that. So the wankers made sure all lines of credit where blocked. Those Filthy Power grid Bandits have to bill someone to Poison the World. Just feels wonderful every time you suck some watts off the grid knowing someone somewhere is dying of a lung disease.

  28. Jacques B says:

    progress but useless.

  29. Jerry Moore says:

    Praise the sun!

  30. Christopher Peoples says:

    Who they stole that idea from

  31. Robert Foedisch says:

    I think there are several forms of alternative energy that are in need of help. Specifically the second generation wind turbans, solar streets, wave energy. Small inexpensive hydroelectric station for a neighborhood or village

  32. rh1507 says:

    I'm quite sure that there are far better manners of producing energy than fossil fuels. Yet the sad facts are that greed runs the world. Ask Tesla.

  33. ScrotMailPlayz says:

    How about we create energy with lightning as that everyone knows that the cold particle or frozen rain drops bump with a normal rain create lightning so show about using the particle accelerator and bump those 2 and create electricity

  34. Jean-Pierre De Vent says:

    "solar" panels that capture near infrared so they work at night , would be nice

  35. engrtun says:

    This guy need some energy bars.

  36. wazza33racer says:

    there is more zero point energy in the empty space of a single atom, than is we converted all the known mass of the universe…………….ponder on that. Your solar power is weak,feeble and of little consequence.

  37. METO U says:

    Nitrogen is used because it displaces oxygen so there is zero possibility Oxidization…meaning you can theoretically heat them up and be over 95% efficient in turning sunlight directly to energy because there is no resistance in carbon.. Carbon is neutral…it can both accept and release energy…. hard drives are carbon… Which is why so much information can stored in a very small place as 1s and 0s and you can retrieve information as long as the electric charge is still inside the carbon… It's easy to retrieve information on a hard drive because it is the same exact thing with nothing different at all as hooking two batteries together to get the same charge in both of the batteries. Another words equalize the voltage in both batteries

  38. JINXtheGamer says:

    Solar during the day and Fusion during the night…. but if build good fusion reactors i don't think we will need solar energy.

  39. automation technologies says:

    Hi I have this technology to generate energy but can't find funding or an institute who wants to test it:

  40. Rial Seebran says:

    we need cheaper oil not this

  41. Ricardo Hernandez de Castilla says:


  42. Granny Payne says:

    Use Lasers to create the heat –

  43. Hueborn says:

    Solar – Electrolysis – Hydrogen Stored in Tanks – Burn Hydrogen at night

  44. LordsOfTheRealm says:

    Ty my friend..i love how you get to the point right off the bat and are positive based…i hate watching videos that beat around the thanks once again for the inportant info..)

  45. Gen. Snoball says:

    What about solar arrays that focus light? You know? They use it to heat water to steam and the steam powers turbines. Combine that with a geothermal source to power the turbine at night or during cloud cover. Not wholly solar but it'd be clean i think.

  46. Vigamortez Channel says:

    🤔 if we make a giant space station on the moon shaped like a propeller.creating artificial gravity ,unlimited amounts of electricity “object in motion stays in motion . Like a wind turbine but in space then beam the electricity to earth 🌍 wham! Your welcome!

  47. Sean McCarthy says:

    They should put turbines in the rivers and oceans the currents would turn the turbines and in turn make electricity

  48. Infullbloom Time says:

    Thorium reactors!!!!

  49. ontoseno haryo Pamungkas says:

    Particle accelerator reactor

  50. AustralianLeprechaun says:

    thorium reactors

  51. Danny says:

    It's always about money.. Those rich assholes don't care about the Earth

  52. UnPotat says:

    Like, we already have this, you just make hydrogen…

  53. ability501 says:

    how keep solar power with liquid iron

  54. cammandoookhalsha skyblue captain junior says:

    hey fool sun is not infinite

  55. mohammed sadam says:

    is there a way to slow down the sun light speed ???

  56. Dru Johnson says:

    I love that you said Thorium!!

  57. Yolo4ever777 King says:

    Can water be used as solar cells, water has memory.

  58. Crushonius says:

    the future of solar power is already here
    just melt salt to store it
    done and done but no one is really talking about it

  59. Björn Snellman says:

    If the entire world put a bounty on developing a super efficient method to use 100% renewable energy. Then perhaps big companys would shift gears and start working with us rather than against us!

  60. the l33t hamm3rbro says:

    Still a lot better than solar roadways.
    (Seriously if you look at their animation you can see solar panels in the fucking shade)

  61. Rishabh rix says:

    thorium reactors

  62. H. Kim says:

    solar energy is not green at all. Manufacturing solar panels requires oil and creates huge toxic chemicals. Disposing the panels once they reach EOL is more problematic because of the toxic chemical elements.

  63. mega lodon says:

    I'm glad to see that we are making progress and solar

  64. Jaskaran Singh says:

    Humans print the money themselves and find the future of humanity expensive

  65. MadakiNomaroishi says:

    Worthless and inefficient🙄🙄🙄 just like every leftist idea

  66. Tushar Sir's Chemistry says:

    Is it Quadricyclane to store solarenergy in an uninsulated container at room temperature …for years together

  67. Tushar Sir's Chemistry says:


  68. Mehul Kumar says:

    Nuclear fusion

  69. Seth Stark says:

    Thorium Reactors (y)

  70. ed low says:

    Power and oil companies will not take their hooks out of you.

  71. Amari Guydon says:


  72. Samuel Forsyth says:

    salt has a higher liquid range than hydrocarbons and some are liquid at 75-80 Celsius,

  73. Joris M-prive says:

    liquid oxygen!

  74. Guybrush Threepwood says:

    store excess solar energy = use a resistance to heat underground bricks insulated with fiberglass. Packed together they can stay hot for days. Have metal tubes go through, so you can run water through it when needed, the water will boil and turn into high pressure vapor which you can harvest for electricity with a simple dynamo.

    I have this system at home, I've been able to power my house for 3 days in a row without any sun. I'm planning to expand it so I can be without sun for longer periods of time.

  75. kerc Chan says:

    solar is a dead end tech, plus solar pollutes the environment when made and hopefully recycled.

  76. Richard Sandwell says:

    There is no energy crisis, we just have too many people misusing the energy we already have.

  77. Robinson Hogan says:

    Well, I invented fusion power.

  78. Sigma Erebus says:

    well, i can say that we are not going to improve the number for 2016 anymore…

  79. Patrick Glaser says:

    So… oil
    Solar takes more energy to produce the panels than they produce in their lifetime. Net drain of resources.

  80. Ion says:

    heat can be stored as warm water already for a day or two without huge losses. conversion bottleneck is the same…

  81. caatabatic says:

    what about lifting heavy stone/iron weights spinning flywheels to store kinetic energy?

  82. Hal Asimov says:

    Hydroelectric and gravity based water storage has been accomplished with over 85% efficiency! That is about as good as a consumer lead acid battery. If you could avoid evaporation water can sit in a tank or in a reservoir for as long as needed without loosing potential energy! And super clean

  83. Ruud Kraan says:

    Super idea.!!

  84. O p a l says:

    i love your catbug shirt!

  85. Christopher Conkright says:

    Yea electric companies don’t want us to use solar it cuts into profits

  86. Popescu George Bogdan says:

    Fusion energy. TOKAMAK

  87. David Benia says:

    What is the substance which is present in water as a renewable sorcerer of energy
    Which have availity like
    1)it can produce 6times of sun energy per second .
    2)it can produce electromagnetic waves which can be harmful for aquatics animals according to its range.
    3)it can decrease the pressure of our earth and our atmosphere or high level of pressure.
    3)it can produce easily through our technology have been discovered.
    4)inside the water .
    (I need a video on this topic)

  88. Nic Sypniewski says:

    You guys should definitely do a video on the disadvantages of thorium because it seems like the perfect renewable

  89. Daniel Thyringer says:

    What about rods that move due to the tide? Or a fine net of noble* metals in salt water?

  90. Daniel Thyringer says:


  91. Daniel Thyringer says:

    Make sure the bad companies can’t buy into progress is one of the hard parts.

  92. Chris Smith says:

    I’m this guy stole my experiment, I did not authorize this.

  93. Steampunk Wolf says:

    I mean, people could just make the solar panels out of the goodness of their hearts, thus eliminating the cost factor. (Ha, like that will ever happen. People are just too greedy.)

  94. Terence Galland says:

    Can we interact with the greatest liquid source on the world 70% ocean???🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊

  95. Lee Oulic says:

    Could farmers benefit from this? Farmers who aren't able to rely on massive fossil fuel reliance like propane (especially during the winter)? And also those who just cannot afford to simply convert exclusively solar energy program? Or even managing to fund the installation of one or two wind turbines?

    Imagine a company that rents light storage units to power up farms, reduce c02 emissions, factor out crop farming machines reliant on fossil fuels, perhaps improve animal husbandry management, and soooo much more. Too bad the future will be here when I'm dead. Grr.

  96. Sabrina Richey says:

    So the carbon releases into the air still

  97. MrApplewine says:

    We already have a liquid that stores the sun's energy; it is called hydrocarbon oil.

  98. brad Morehouse says: – Should I sell the name or keep it?

  99. Dptl says:

    It is 2016 not 20-16

  100. Lakhbir Singh says:

    Yaar Hindi mein Bata diya karo Bhi Bata diya karo

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