Researchers at Texas A&M University have successfully created a new plant-based supercapacitor. In addition to being flexible, it is more ecological and economical than the best supercapacitors and has a capacitance 900 times greater.
Supercapacitors are an alternative to batteries that use static charge rather than chemical reaction to store energy. This allows them to be charged and discharged much faster, but they keep the charge for a shorter time. They are currently used in electric or hybrid vehicles to provide peak energy for acceleration, or recover braking energy, but could one day be used as a primary energy source.
An electric car powered by a supercapacitor could be charged in just a few minutes. It is with this in mind that researchers at Texas A&M University have created a greener and more efficient supercapacitor, without using certain problematic metal oxides or chemical treatments.
An ecological, light, flexible and high capacity prototype
Their new supercapacitor is based on lignin, a component of wood and residue from the paper industry, combined with manganese dioxide, a very abundant element. This mixture is deposited on an aluminum plate to create one of the two electrodes. The second is made of aluminum and activated carbon. A gel electrolyte is then placed between the two. The resulting prototype has a capacitance 900 times greater than other supercapacitors, and this has remained stable even after thousands of recharging cycles.
In addition, their supercapacitor is very light and flexible, which multiplies the possible uses, especially in electric vehicles. Researchers want to go even further and completely eliminate elements dangerous for the environment. “In the near future, we would like to make our supercapacitors 100% ecological, integrating only green and sustainable ingredients”.
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