Why energy storage is really superficial

If you want to improve the performance of batteries and capacitors, one sure-fire way is to increase charge density. And the way to do this is to up-scale the surface area of your electrodes. Various configurations of carbon, both alone and in combination with other elements, can provide that increase, which is why we have reported on everything from nanoflowers to a carbon nanofoam.

The latest news in the battle for increased surface area comes from Rice University, where scientists have seamlessly combined carbon nanotubes a few atoms wide and 120 microns long onto one-atom thick graphene sheets, reports Science Daily. That means that if the nanotubes were the same width as an average house, they would rise up from the graphene ‘ground’ like mega-skyscrapers… into space.

As you can imagine, that’s a lot of surface area: 2,000 square metres per gramme of material, in fact. But what about practical applications? Researchers at Rice say their tests indicate the material already performs as well as the best carbon super-capacitors.


Maxwell launches high-voltage cold-climate capacitors

New high-voltage capacitors and voltage dividers that operate at temperatures as low as minus 60ºC have been launched by Maxwell Technologies’ Swiss subsidiary, it has been announced. Designed for use in freezing Arctic conditions, the new lines include capacitors for live tank, dead tank and gas-insulated switchgear circuit breakers, in addition to capacitive voltage dividers.

Device battery market to hit US$86bn by 2023

By 2023 the smart and portable electronic device batteries sector will be worth $86bn, super-capacitors will top $4.5bn and secondary lithium batteries will likely have lost some of their current 57 per cent market share to new technologies. This is the outlook according to a new study on batteries and super-capacitors for smart portable devices, from IDTechEx.

Are you keen to see more news on the portable device energy storage market? Let us know.

US$1.2m for carbon nano-materials research

27 September 2012
The National Science Foundation has handed Clemson University, USA, physics professor Apparao Rao a $1.2m grant to look into using carbon nano-materials for energy storage.Rao will lead a team of Clemson and University of California-San Diego researchers in search of a new generation of electrochemical capacitors, with applications “ranging from household power tools to energy management and conservation,” he says.

E.ON in hunt for ‘supercapattery’

27 September 2012
Energy giant E.ON is backing a University of Nottingham, UK, research effort to develop a low-cost, rapid charge and discharge energy storage device called a supercapattery.The work is being led by Prof. George Chen and is one of three projects that E.ON is funding with a UK£1m grant. A second programme will look into using electric car batteries for energy storage in the home