One of the biggest issues with the harvesting of solar and wind energy is how to keep the lights on when the suns not shining and the winds not blowing. The two most common methods are battery banks and grid inter-tie. Grid inter-tie allows unused solar power to be requires a link to the power grid. Unused solar energy is returned to the grid for money, but solar panel owners are still capable of drawing power from the grid when their solar panels aren’t providing sufficient power. Battery banks are, for crude purposes, essentially collections of car batteries, wired together and engineered to store solar power. These battery banks store energy for theindividual or household consumer, removing one’s need to be attached to the power grid at all.
The issue with battery banks is that while the energy they store may be produced cleanly and renewably, the batteries themselves are dirty. They contain chemicals such as cadmium and nickel that can cause both soil and water pollution when disposed. Cadmium harms many micro-organisms found in soil that are key in the decomposition of organic waste.
Recently, a group of Washington State researchers discovered a method of storage that may offer a solution to this drawback. Their method involves a cheap catalyst that boosts the electrolysis of water, creating hydrogen gas more efficiently. Hydrogen gas can be fed into engines and generators, so by using the power from solar and wind energy in tandem with this catalyst to create hydrogen gas, renewable energy can be stored more cleanly and efficiently, and even be used to power vehicles.
The electrolysis method of saving energy isn’t a new innovation, but high costs and low effectiveness have kept it from becoming a realistic possibility. The catalyst invented by the WSU researchers boosts efficiency and is a drastically cheeper than its previous counterparts, which were often made with precious metals. Creating effective electrolysis converters is a big step in making a solar and wind powered world a reality