Researchers advance understanding of energy storage mechanisms in supercapacitors

Mar 05, 2012

An international team of materials researchers including Drexel University's Dr. Yury Gogotsi has given the engineering world a better look at the inner functions of the electrodes of supercapacitors – the low-cost, lightweight energy storage devices used in many electronics, transportation and many other applications. In a piece published in the March 4 edition of Nature Materials, Gogotsi, and his collaborators from universities in France and England, take another step toward finding a solution to the world's demand for sustainable energy sources.

Gogotsi, a professor in Drexel's College of Engineering and director of the A.J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute, teamed with Mathieu Salanne, Céline Merlet and Benjamin Rotenberg from the Université Paris 06, Paul A. Madden from Oxford University and Patrice Simon and Pierre-Louis Taberna of Université Paul Sabatier. What the group has produced is the first quantitative picture of the structure of ionic liquid absorbed inside disordered microporous carbon in supercapacitors. Supercapacitors have the capability of storing and delivering more power than batteries; moreover, they can last for up to a million of charge-discharge cycles. These characteristics are significant because of the intermittent nature of renewable energy production.

According to the researchers, the excellent performance of is due to ion adsorption in porous carbon electrodes. The molecular mechanism of ion behavior in pores smaller than one nanometer-one billionth of a meter- remains poorly understood. The mechanism proposed in this research opens the door for the design of materials with improved capabilities.

The authors suggest that in order to build higher-performance materials, researchers should know whether the increase in energy storage is due to only a large surface area or if the pore size and geometry also play a role. The results of this study provide guidance for development of better electrical energy storage devices that will ultimately enable wide utilization of renewable energy sources.

"This breakthrough in understanding of energy storage mechanisms became possible due to collaboration between research groups from four universities in three countries," Gogotsi said. "Moreover, the team used carbon structure models developed by our colleagues Dr. Jeremy Palmer and Dr. Keith Gubbins from the North Carolina State University. This is a clear demonstration of the importance of collaboration between scientists working in different disciplines and even in different countries."

Explore further: Graphene and diamonds prove a slippery combination

More information: C. Merlet, B. Rotenberg, P.A. Madden, P.-L. Taberna, P. Simon, Y. Gogotsi, and M. Salanne, On the molecular origin of supercapacitance in nanoporous carbon electrodes, Nature Materials (2012) DOI: 10.1038/NMAT3260

Related Stories

Cheaper, greener, alternative energy storage at Stevens

May 23, 2011

Every year, the world consumes 15 Terrawatts of power. Since the amount of annual harvestable solar energy has been estimated at 50 Terrawatts, students at Stevens Institute of Technology are working on a supercapacitor that ...

Recommended for you

Graphene and diamonds prove a slippery combination

May 25, 2015

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have found a way to use tiny diamonds and graphene to give friction the slip, creating a new material combination that demonstrates ...

Artificial muscles get graphene boost

May 22, 2015

Researchers in South Korea have developed an electrode consisting of a single-atom-thick layer of carbon to help make more durable artificial muscles.

How to make continuous rolls of graphene

May 21, 2015

Graphene is a material with a host of potential applications, including in flexible light sources, solar panels that could be integrated into windows, and membranes to desalinate and purify water. But all ...

Carbon nanothreads from compressed benzene

May 20, 2015

A new carbon nanomaterial – the thinnest possible one-dimensional thread that still retains a diamond-like structure – was created by the controlled, slow compression and decompression of benzene. The ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2012
capacitors will win the transportable electricity wars. batteries are a dead end for vehicle storage of electricity because they will never carry energy as densely and as cheaply as synethic or natural fuels. combustion or catalytic oxidation are always going to destroy battery chemistry---capacitors will smooth the energy demand load and create massive efficiencies and reduce the maintanance and wear on the vehicle's energy generation system. look at the yocar by russia.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.