Scientists have developed a ‘solar flow battery’ that combines both a solar cell and a battery that can efficiently store sunlight as chemical energy for later on-demand use.

The device could be especially useful in making electricity more accessible in remote regions of the world, the developers said.

In order to keep solar energy practical for 24/7 use, it must be stored. Normally this takes two devices, a solar cell and a battery. The solar flow battery is designed to perform like both.

“Compared with separated solar energy conversion and electrochemical energy storage devices, combining the functions of separated devices into a single, integrated device could be a more efficient, scalable, compact and cost-effective approach to utilising solar energy,” said Song Jin, a professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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