Storing More Energy with Carbon

by Michael D’Agati

capacitors

Figure 1. Carbon is expanding our ability to store energy.

 

The improvements in energy storage have been slow and costly, despite all the advancements in technology over the past decades. For this reason, there has been a lot of focus from research groups worldwide on different sources and methods of energy storage. One type of energy storage device that may be promising for the future is the supercapacitor. Supercapacitors have the ability to store up to 1,000 times more energy than conventional capacitors, as well as charge and discharge as much as 600 times quicker than conventional batteries.

The performance of a supercapacitor relies heavily on the material chosen for the electrodes. In the past two weeks, Dr. Chuanyin Xiong from Northwestern Polytechnical University and his team released a study demonstrating the development of a novel method for the creation of three-dimensional reduced graphene oxide carbon nanotube nickel foams. The process behind this creation involves using a combination of electrophoretic deposition (a process of coating based on electrical interactions of colloidal particles) and chemical vapor deposition (heating chemicals into a vapor form to make a solid material when it cools). Since this method involves only two steps, it is relatively simple and effective. Currently, different manifestations of carbon are used as supercapacitor electrodes. However, the hybrid foams can be directly used as electrodes for supercapacitors.

The results of the study demonstrate that the unique hybrid structure the team developed has high energy and power density measurements, 19.24Wh kg-1 and 5398W kg-1 respectively. This study provides a foundation for similar future structures to be used in high-performance energy storage devices. With all the novel improvements in technology over the past few decades, the upgrades in energy storage devices have not increased at the same rate. In order for more progress to be made, the future lies in making higher quality energy storage devices.

 

References:  

  1. C. Xiong et al., Two− step approach of fabrication of three−dimensional reduced graphene oxide−carbon nanotubes−nickel foams hybrid as a binder−free supercapacitor electrode. Electrochimica Acta 217, 9-15 (2016). doi: 10.1016/j.electacta.2016.09.068.
  2. Image retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/batteries-loading-icons-set-flat-1379208/
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