View Full Version : Photoswitches: new technology to store heat

Dennis Leahy
17th April 2014, 13:53
Caveat: My brain goes on red alert when the particular substance they used - azobenzene - is named, but hopefully, they will find other molecules (of benign substances) that will also act as photoswitches.

That said, this is a new technology for heat storage. I thought this was interesting enough to include here.

Meet 'photoswitches,' a breakthrough set of materials that act as their own batteries, absorbing energy and releasing it on demand.

The next big thing in solar energy could be microscopic.

Scientists at MIT and Harvard University have devised a way to store solar energy in molecules that can then be tapped to heat homes, water or used for cooking.

The best part: The molecules can store the heat forever and be endlessly re-used while emitting absolutely no greenhouse gases. Scientists remain a way’s off in building this perpetual heat machine but they have succeeded in the laboratory at demonstrating the viability of the phenomenon called photoswitching.The full article is here, (with a misleading title) Scientists Discover How to Generate Solar Power in the Dark (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/scientists-discover-how-to-generate-solar-power-in-the-dark/360679/) The "power" is heat, and it is being stored, not "generated."


17th April 2014, 17:08
Dennis, it's a micri-Shipstone, isn't it?

Another PA user was talking to me about Heinlein this week, too, haha.

Is there any possibility of a "Shipstone" high-capacity storage battery?

by BrainGlutton 05-07-2005, 03:44 PM
In one of Robert Heinlein's last novels, Friday (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/034530988X/qid=1115498417/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-0016760-1004908?v=glance&s=books&n=507846), society has been transformed by a high-capacity storage battery called a "Shipstone" after its inventor. They come in various sizes. A large Shipstone in the basement can power an office building for a year. Most electric appliances are powered by small Shipstones instead of being plugged into wall outlets. Power-transmission grids are obsolete and blackouts are a thing of the past. In fact, the Shipstone has effectively solved the world's energy problems: A Shipstone generates no electric power, it has to be charged at a power plant; but it does eliminate the losses that happen when you transmit power from the power plant to the point of consumption over power lines. It also eliminates the need for fossil fuels, at least as vehicle fuels -- cars, buses, trains, airplanes, all can run on Shipstones.

Of course, it's purely a "black box" technology in the novel. Heinlein does not provide even a theoretical hint as to how such a miracle technology might work. (The Shipstone, in fact, was never patented, in order to keep its workings a secret and maintain a practical, indefinite monopoly for its inventor; and it is implied that trying to dismantle one to reverse-engineer it would cause a nuclear-level explosion.)

Is anybody working on such a battery? Does anybody have a theoretical line of approach? Or is a Shipstone something as definitively impossible (in view of present knowledge of physics) as an antigravity field or a faster-than-light space drive?

haha :)
the next guy was even more original:

05-07-2005, 04:00 PM
Power loss through transmission systems is not all that great. I would think a shipstone powered coffee maker at 100% energy efficency would be less then 100% due to the thing breaking before the shipstone is depleted.

Perhaps the idea is that everything becomes a service, you pay not for a coffee maker but for X cups of brewed coffee after which the device is useless. The apex of the throw away society.

18th April 2014, 01:01
Interesting info Dennis,
recovering heat losses in motors and inefficent circuts and reconverting them to usable energy would go a long way to help.thanx for the info .cheers

18th April 2014, 01:15
Have you seen this compliments of J.B "John Bedini"....

How to get rid of the acid in your Lead Acid Batterys..just replace the Acid with Alum....yep the same stuff we use in the kitchen to pickle with ...battery standing voltage is a little lower that a lead acid battery ...........but the discharge curves under load much more stable and last a lot longer that regular lead acid.......