Scientists at UCLA's NanoSystems Institute have developed really powerful hybrid supercapacitor

Scientists at UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute have developed hybrid supercapacitor that is six times as energy-dense as the average commercial supercapacitor. The new experimental hybrid device combines the energy density of a lead-acid battery with the quick charge and discharge rates of a supercapacitor.

5/15/15 5:00 am chumakdenis 1

The need to increase electric vehicle range and decrease charging time of the battery is the big issue nowadays.

A lot of research has been done to improve battery chemistry and a lot of really cool thing on the way, but does everything is as hard as that? Isn’t there a simpler way to increase battery energy-density?

Keep everything simple

Actually, there is. Scientists at UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute decided to go simple and in spite of improving battery chemistry they’ve decided to change the battery itself.

Yeah, you’ve heard me correctly. Scientists at UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute have developed a completely new hybrid device that goes beyond simple changes in cell chemistry.

The experimental device combines the energy density of a lead-acid battery with the quick charge and discharge rates of a supercapacitor.

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It's six times as energy-dense as the average commercial supercapacitor, according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .

That combination of qualities has great potential impact for electric vehicles. It would offer more compact energy storage and faster charging without sacrificing range.

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Te new hybrid supercapacitor can last for more than 10,000 recharge cycles. 

Twice as much charge as a typical thin-film lithium battery

Researchers claim the version being tested can hold twice as much charge as a typical thin-film lithium battery - but on a surface one-fifth the thickness of a piece of paper.

This performance was reportedly achieved by maximizing the contact area between the electrolyte and the two electrodes.

Those electrodes are made from manganese dioxide, but feature a three-dimensional laser-scribed graphene (LSG) structure.

*LSG is the material that can hold an electrical change , is very conductive, and charges and recharges very quickly - with manganese dioxide, which is currently used in alkaline batteries because it holds a lot of charge and is cheap and plentiful. They can be fabricated without the need for extreme temperatures or the expensive "dry rooms" required to produce today's supercapacitors.


"The LSG–manganese-dioxide capacitors can store as much electrical charge as a lead acid battery, yet can be recharged in seconds, and they store about six times the capacity of state-of-the-art commercially available supercapacitors," Kaner said. "This scalable approach for fabricating compact, reliable, energy-dense supercapacitors shows a great deal of promise in real-world applications, and we're very excited about the possibilities for greatly improving personal electronics technology in the near future."

The graphene structure is highly conductive, and has greater surface area than previous designs.

Supercapacitors are usually stacked on top of each other and packaged as a unit, but the researchers decided to take advantage of their device's thin design and try something different.

Attached to a solar array

The test version is attached to a solar array, absorbing energy from its cell during the day, and discharging it at night to light an LED.

Plans for the future

In addition to its energy density and quick charging properties, researchers believe the compactness of what they call a "microsupercapacitor" could be a major selling point as well.

Among potential applications, they see it being used in bandages to release doses of medication and, of course, in electric vehicles as well.

Verdict

All of the device's properties could be useful in electric vehicles, but that's purely theoretical right now.

As with all experimental technologies, it's important to note that promising lab results don't always translate into commercial viability.

Anyway, let’s don’t be pessimistic. Research team is still on their way to find a solution to electric vehicle range and charging issues, so let’s wish them good luck with that and wait for more news from ambitious big research team at UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute.

 

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