A system for converting solar energy to chemical energy, and, subsequently, to thermal energy includes a light-harvesting station, a storage station, and a thermal energy release station. The system may include additional stations for converting the released thermal energy to other energy forms, e.g., to electrical energy and mechanical work. At the light-harvesting station, a photochemically active first organometallic compound, e.g., a fulvalenyl diruthenium complex, is exposed to light and is photochemically converted to a second, higher-energy organometallic compound, which is then transported to a storage station. At the storage station, the high-energy organometallic compound is stored for a desired time and/or is transported to a desired location for thermal energy release. At the thermal energy release station, the high-energy organometallic compound is catalytically converted back to the photochemically active organometallic compound by an exothermic process, while the released thermal energy is captured for subsequent use.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231 awarded by the United States Department of Energy to the University of California. The government has certain rights in this invention.