Flow batteries are rechargeable devices based on specific chemicals in liquids separated by a membrane. They hold the key to cheap energy storage, especially if their dependence on expensive metals such as platinum and vanadium is reduced. Enter organic compounds called quinones. Quinones are central to electron transport in photosynthesis (plastoquinone, phylloquinone), and aerobic respiration (ubiquinone). A discovery by Harvard biochemists suggests that quinones similar to those found in rhubarb may unlock the development of cheap flow batteries.
Big changes are beginning to stir in solar energy. Heavy hitters such as Elon Musk (founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors and PayPal) continue to see opportunities to transform the world through business excellence. And those insights are catching on on Wall Street. SolarCity is not simply a way to sell solar systems, it is a way to sell the energy itself, making “SolarCity almost like a newfangled utility”. Diane Cardwell and Julie Creswelljan wrote more on this innovation and the appeal it is generating in the New York Times last week. Continue reading