Energy & Green Tech

A new carbon nitride photoanode-based integrated solar battery

Researchers have been working for the past few years to develop battery designs that are more environmentally friendly and solar technologies that are more effective. Among the emerging economical energy arrangements are sun-based batteries, frameworks that can store the energy gathered by solar-powered cells, and photovoltaic (PV) frameworks.

A sustainable integrated solar battery design based on materials that are abundant on Earth was recently introduced by a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research led by Prof. Bettina Lotsch. Their plan, introduced in a paper distributed in Energy and Ecological Science, depends on a bi-useful carbon nitride (K-PHI) photoanode that can both retain light and store electric charge.

According to Andreas Gouder, one of the researchers who conducted the study, “The solar battery research field is still young and as such very diverse in concepts and ideas, with different levels of integration.” When two functions—light energy conversion and energy storage—are integrated into a single device, this is called integration. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, such as by incorporating a photoactive electrode into a battery or, as is the case here, by making use of a bifunctional electrode material. Be that as it may, joining may likewise influence charge movement.”

“The solar battery research area is very young, and as such, conceptions and ideas are quite varied, with varying degrees of integration,”

Andreas Gouder, one of the researchers who carried out the study.

One of the photogenerated charge carriers must be transferred from a photoactive electrode to another “counter” electrode when light is used to charge batteries. This process is carried out through an external wire in the majority of solar batteries that have been developed previously and are built on solid electrodes.

Prof. Lotsch, Gouder, and their partners set off on a mission to make a battery arrangement in which this cycle happened inside. They used a multipurpose separator to accomplish this, separating the battery’s two electrodes.

According to Gouder, “Designing a proof-of-concept device via this new, more integrated mechanism inspired this work, as well as employing bifunctional, earth-abundant, and cheap 2D polymeric carbon nitrides (i.e., the carbon nitride modification “K-PHI”) as photoanodes for the first time for solar batteries.” Our team first looked into K-PHI’s suitability as an anode for solar batteries in 2018 and patented it in 2019.”
The researchers created a battery with two electrodes, or anode and cathode, separated by a separator. The anode, which is made of K-PHI, is responsible for the absorption of light. While the photogenerated holes are transferred to the organic conductive polymer PEDOT cathode, the photogenerated electrons are directly stored in the K-PHI. PSS.

“This is done via an external wire in virtually all other comparable closed solar battery devices,” Gouder stated. A hole transporting layer (organic conductive polymer F8BT) is responsible for this unique internal, rectified transfer mechanism. When kept in the dark and charged or discharged with an applied electric current, this device can theoretically operate like a normal solar cell or battery. However, several light-assisted modes become possible, all of which we investigated in detail as part of our study.”

In a series of tests, Prof. Lotsch, Gouder, and their colleagues evaluated their solar battery and discovered that it produced extremely promising results. A solar battery’s charging or discharging processes can both be aided by solar light. When compared to when the battery was operated like conventional batteries in the dark, the researchers discovered that their solution significantly increased the extracted energy by 94.1% when applied to both the charging and discharging processes.

This group of researchers’ integrated solar battery design may soon inspire other groups to develop sustainable batteries of a similar nature using separators or carbon nitride photoanodes. In the interim, the specialists intend to further develop their innovation, to further develop its energy efficiency, and to work with its commercialization.

“While the effectiveness of photocharging is practically identical to comparative photoanode-based sun-oriented battery gadgets, it is still behind an additional traditional two gadget framework (that is, a sun-powered cell associated with a battery),” Gouder added. “In order to compete with cutting-edge solar cells, implementation in a traditional solar power park necessitates increasing the photocurrent in particular. The device’s translucent nature may make it possible to use it in places where traditional solar cells cannot be used, such as windows. Other application fields appear to be possible. Additionally, due to the fact that charge storage takes place directly on the device, it does not require charge storage infrastructure and can operate decentralizedly, such as in a variety of microdevices.”

More information: A. Gouder et al, An integrated solar battery based on a charge storing 2D carbon nitride, Energy & Environmental Science (2023). DOI: 10.1039/D2EE03409C

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