Scientists Develop Highly Efficient Supercapacitor That Could Rival Batteries

Technical University Munich

Engineers from the Technical University Munich have created a new supercapacitor that is highly efficient and sustainable. The supercapacitor was designed with a graphene hybrid material that is powerful, stable, and sustainable. This new innovation offers a performance that is comparable to modern batteries.

Supercapacitors are being used more and more frequently in a variety of different technologies, including laptops and cellphones. Supercapacitors have an advantage over batteries in that they can store and put out large amounts of energy quickly and efficiently. The downside to this technology is its lack of energy density. Supercapacitors can only reach an energy density one tenth of that offered by lithium accumulators.

The new design from TUM operates as the positive electrode in the supercapacitor, allowing it to be powerful and sustainable at the same time. Engineers then combine the sustainable graphene hybrid material with a negative electrode made up of carbon and titanium.

This energy storage device is capable of achieving an energy density of up to 73 Wh/kg. This is approximately the same as the energy density found in a nickel metal hybrid battery. Additionally, it offers a far superior performance to that of other supercapacitors with a power density of 16 kW/kg. The new supercapacitor succeeds where others fall short due to a very specific combination of different materials.

“Nature is full of highly complex, evolutionarily optimized hybrid materials – bones and teeth are examples. Their mechanical properties, such as hardness and elasticity were optimized through the combination of various materials by nature.”

Roland Fischer, Professor of Inorganic and Metal-Organic Chemistry at the Technical University Munich (TUM)

The research team took the idea of combining unexpected materials and put it into creating a superior supercapacitor. They took chemically modified graphene from the novel positive electrode of the storage unit and combined it with a metal organic nano-structured framework. The performance is enhanced by the controllable pore size, large specific surface, and high electrical conductivity.

The end result is a powerful, reliable, and sustainable device that could lead to more effective supercapacitors in many of our most commonly used devices. The team of engineers continues to work on perfecting their design while exploring options for mass production and commercialization.

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