MIT researcher report that a novel carbon nanotube can store solar energy indefinitely and then be recharged by the sun. The team’s approach is based on a long-held premise that it is more efficient to store the sun's heat in chemical form, rather than convert it to electricity first. Until now, the chemicals needed to perform this conversion and storage either quickly degraded or was made of a rare and expensive element.
MIT researchers combined carbon nanotubes with azobenzene to create a less expensive and effective compound for storing energy. The work was done by Jeffrey Grossman, who is MIT’s Carl Richard Soderberg Associate Professor of Power Engineering. The new chemical system is less expensive and about 10,000 times more efficient at storing energy in a given amount of space. The work is slated for to appear in an upcoming edition of the journal Nano Letters.