TU Graz researchers developing solar cell + battery hybrid

TU Graz researchers developing solar

The SolaBat project backed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), is entering into almost new research territory.

A research team, led by Illie Hanzu from TU Graz’s Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Materials, is making battery and solar cell hybrid out of two single systems which will not only be able to convert electrical energy but also store it.

According to the researchers the hybrid system would be space saving, efficient and comparatively simple to manage.

What makes the project stand apart from similar attempts is the new amalgamation of materials. anzu explains: “In the hybrid system high-performance materials share their tasks in the solar cell and in the battery. We need materials which reliably fulfil their respective tasks and which are also electrochemically compatible with other materials so that they work together in one device.”

Researches will use eco-friendly titanates instead of environmentally damaging cobalt-containing electrodes. Polymer-based cells – in other words, organic solar cells – could also be used. However there is an uncertainty about what will happen when materials come into contact with each other, which is why project partner, the Centre for Electron Microscopy, is investigating the underlying fundamental interface effects and reactions.

 “Our preliminary work was very promising and I’m confident that at the end of SolaBat we will be able to present a working concept of a photovoltaic battery hybrid. Where exactly such a system will find application – as in many basic research projects – is too early to say, but the possibilities are in any case manifold,” said Hanzu. He further added “with batteries in micro applications or small appliances, such as smartphones, space-saving is primary and weight secondary. In the case of car batteries, in contrast, weight is the most important parameter, space not so much.”

Currently the photovoltaic cells which are connected together in a single system mostly use lead-based batteries and vast amounts of cable. Solar panels on the roof with a battery in the cellar take lot of space and needs regular maintenance, if scientists successes in developing hybrid and launches it commercially, it will prove boon for the solar industry.

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