Green Energy Dreams

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Norbornadiene ‘Photoswitch’ Makes Dreams Come True

By David Kattenburg

It’s the ultimate green dream: some device or substance that can capture the sun’s infinite flood of energy, store that energy, release it as heat and electricity — in controlled fashion — then absorb it all over again in a continuous closed loop.

A little organic molecule called norbornadiene promises to make dreams come true, in the crucial realm of home heating and cooling. Modified by a group of Swedish researchers, norbornadiene morphs back and forth between low and high energy isomeric forms, releasing heat in the presence of a catalyst.

I spoke with the lead researcher behind one norbornadiene application. Kasper Moth-Poulsen is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, Sweden. Listen to our conversation here:


Kasper Moth-Poulsen demonstrates norbornadiene photoswitch (credit: Johan Bodell)

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