Chinese Academy of Sciences Researchers develop simple way to fabricate micro-super-capacitors with high energy density


Super Caps Chinese Academy microsuperca(Left) Photograph of nine interconnected microsupercapacitors. (Right) Microsupercapacitors in a highly folded state. Credit: Xiao et al. ©2017 American Chemical Society

“Micro-supercapacitors are very promising for on-chip energy storage,” Wu said. “Very recently, the emergence of wearable and smart electronics urgently call for highly flexible and multi-functional, integrated .”

One of the most promising microscale power sources for portable and wearable electronics is a micro-supercapacitor—they can be made thin, lightweight, highly flexible, and with a high power density. Normally, however, manufacturing these devices involves complicated techniques that often require high pressures, irradiation, and multiple steps.

In a new study, researchers have developed a simple “one-step method” for fabricating micro-supercapacitors and demonstrate that the final devices exhibit a very good overall performance, including a high power density (1500 mW/cm3) as well as an energy density (11.6 mWh/cm3) that is at least twice as high as similar micro-supercapacitors.

The researchers, Han Xiao et al. at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have published their paper in a recent issue of ACS Nano.

“We have developed a versatile, simple and effective method for fabricating high-energy micro-supercapacitors with designed shapes,” coauthor Zhong-Shuai Wu at the Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Phys.org.

The essential step of fabricating the new micro-supercapacitor is integrating phosphorene nanosheets into the interlayer of graphene nanosheets, and the good performance is in large part due to the synergistic combination of these two materials. The different materials have complementary effects, with the phosphorene offering a high  capacity and preventing the graphene sheets from unwanted stacking, while the graphene forms the main skeleton and offers a high-speed electron transport network.

Among their other characteristics, the micro-supercapacitors demonstrate very good flexibility, which the researchers attribute to the layered structure and planar  geometry. The device also has a high capacitance, which is maintained at nearly 90% of its maximum capacity after 2000 cycles. In general, the simple fabrication process also contributes to improving the device performance because it avoids the contamination and oxidation that often occur during multiple-step processing.

As the researchers explain, the small energy-storage devices have the potential to be used in a wide variety of areas.

“Micro-supercapacitors are very promising for on-chip energy storage,” Wu said. “Very recently, the emergence of wearable and smart electronics urgently call for highly flexible and multi-functional, integrated . Overall, new micro-supercapacitors could keep up with the pace of the fast development of high-tech microsystems used in the precision instruments, materials, bio-medical and other fields.”

The researchers also expect that, in the future, the new fabrication process can be easily scaled up and eventually be used for commercial purposes. They also plan to investigate other materials and techniques for developing microscale .

“We are continuously developing a variety of ultrathin, structurally defined graphene and 2-D , safe high-voltage electrolytes, and device fabrication techniques for flexible, smart, and integrated microscale energy storage device systems, such as high- micro-supercapacitors,” Wu said.

 Explore further: Stretchy supercapacitors power wearable electronics

More information: Han Xiao et al. “One-Step Device Fabrication of Phosphorene and Graphene Interdigital Micro-Supercapacitors with High Energy Density.” ACS Nano. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b03288

 

Volvo Places ‘BIG Bet’ on the Electric Vehicle (EV) Market (w/video Tenka Magnum ‘Battery Pack’)


Volvo EC rd1707_volvo

One of the most well-known car companies in the world is placing a big bet on the future of alternative energy.

Volvo announced on Wednesday it would produce every car model with an electric motor starting in 2019.

This move marks the first time a traditional automaker has decided to phase out the use of traditional combustion engines in their vehicles.

Volvo’s portfolio will be comprised of a mix of electrified and hybrid cars across a variety of model ranges.

The company plans on launching the first five fully electric models between 2019 and 2021, which will be supplemented by a mix of petrol and diesel plug in hybrid and mild hybrid 48 volt options on all models, according to the announcement.

Volvo’s goal is to sell an approximate 1 million electrified cars by 2025.

Combustion engines will still be part of Volvo’s cars for 2018, but this decision signifies a real shift in auto manufacturers’ interest in electric and hybrid vehicles as they contend with factors like stricter emissions regulations.

“This is about the customer,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo, in a statement. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.”

Specific details regarding the models of the electric powered vehicles will be provided at a later date.

Tenka Power Max SuperCap Battery Pack for 18650 and 21700 Markets

Published on Apr 26, 2017

Super Capacitor Assisted Silicon Nanowire Batteries for EV and Small Form Factor Markets. A New Class of Battery /Energy Storage Materials is being developed to support the High Energy – High Capacity – High Performance High Cycle Battery Markets.

“Ultrathin Asymmetric Porous-Nickel Graphene-Based
Supercapacitor with High Energy Density and Silicon Nanowire,”

A New Generation Battery that is:

 Energy Dense
 High Specific Power
 Simple Manfacturing Process
 Low Manufacturing Cost
 Rapid Charge/ Re-Charge
 Flexible Form Factor
 Long Warranty Life
 Non-Toxic
 Highly Scalable

Key Markets & Commercial Applications

 EV, (18650 & 21700); Drone and Marine Batteries
 Wearable Electronics and The Internet of Things
 Estimated $112B Market by 2025

Charge Your Cell Phone in 5 (that’s right .. 5!) Seconds? + New Discovery Could Unlock Graphene’s Full Potential ~ Video


Graphene Supercapacitors 111815 id41889

It’s time for an update on graphene, that super material of the future! Scientists have come up with some new ways of making it that are easier and cheaper than ever before.

“Fascination with this material stems from its remarkable physical properties and the potential applications these properties offer for the future. Although scientists knew one atom thick, two-dimensional crystal graphene existed, no-one had worked out how to extract it from graphite.”

 

More ….

Charge Your Cell Phone In 5 Seconds

Supercapacitors: They’ll enable you to charge your cell phone in 5 seconds, or an electric car in about a minute. They’re cheap, biodegradable, never wear out and as Trace’ll tell you, could be powering your life sooner than you’d think.

 

Still More …

Scientists cook up material 200 times stronger than steel out of soybean oil

Soyben Graphene 8223748-16x9-large“Many production techniques involve the use of intense heat in a vacuum, and expensive ingredients like high-purity metals and explosive compressed gases. Now a team of Australian scientists has detailed how they turned cheap everyday ingredients into graphene under normal air conditions. They said the research, published today in the journal Nature Communications, may open up a new avenue for the low-cost synthesis of the highly sought-after material.” Click on the Link below to read more:

Scientists cook up material 200 times stronger than steel out of soybean oil

 

Non-flammable graphene membrane developed for safe mass production – Applications in Fuel Cells, Solar Cells, Super Capacitors & Sensors


NF grapheneThis visualization shows layers of graphene used for membranes. Credit: University of Manchester

” … this makes it possible to mass-produce graphene and to improve a host of products, from fuel cells to solar cells to supercapacitors and sensors.”

University of Arkansas researchers have discovered a simple and scalable method for turning graphene oxide into a non-flammable and paper-like graphene membrane that can be used in large-scale production.

“Due to their and excellent charge and heat conductivities, graphene-based materials have generated enormous excitement,” said Ryan Tian, associate professor of in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. “But high flammability jeopardizes the material’s promise for large-scale manufacturing and wide applications.”

Graphene’s extremely high flammability has been an obstacle to further development and commercialization. However, this makes it possible to mass-produce graphene and to improve a host of products, from fuel cells to solar cells to supercapacitors and sensors. Tian has a provisional patent for this new discovery.

Using metal ions with three or more positive charges, researchers in Tian’s laboratory bonded graphene-oxide flakes into a transparent membrane. This new form of carbon-polymer sheet is flexible, nontoxic and mechanically strong, in addition to being non-flammable.

Further testing of the material suggested that crosslinking, or bonding, using transition metals and rare-earth metals, caused the to possess new semiconducting, magnetic and optical properties.

For the past decade, scientists have focused on graphene, a two-dimensional material that is a single atom in thickness, because it is one of the strongest, lightest and most conductive materials known. For these reasons, graphene and similar two-dimensional materials hold great potential to substitute for traditional semiconductors. Graphene oxide is a common intermediate for graphene and graphene-derived materials made from graphite, which is a crystalline form of carbon.

The researchers’ findings were published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

Explore further: New study shows nickel graphene can be tuned for optimal fracture strength

More information: Hulusi Turgut et al. Multivalent Cation Cross-Linking Suppresses Highly Energetic Graphene Oxide’s Flammability, The Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2017). DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.6b13043

 

Two New Technologies that could charge your phone in seconds, Power the ioT (Internet of Things) and Power a New Generation of EF Drones (extended flight) and EL Marine Batteries (extended life)


ucf-nw-super-cap-bppmvrh-ad2btttplnp07ujamepgu6ec41cczosz2aa

   Image: UCF

Technology I: University of Central Florida

Leaving your phone plugged in for hours could become a thing of the past, thanks to a new type of battery technology that charges in seconds and lasts for over a week.

Watch the Video

While it probably won’t be commercially available for a years, the researchers said it has the potential to be used in phones, wearables and electric vehicles.

“If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,” said Nitin Choudhary, a UCF postdoctoral associate, who conducted much of the research, published in the academic journal ACS Nano.

How does it work?

Unlike conventional batteries, supercapacitors store electricity statically on their surface which means they can charge and deliver energy rapidly. But supercapacitors have a major shortcoming: they need large surface areas in order to hold lots of energy.

To overcome the problem, the researchers developed supercapacitors built with millions of nano-wires and shells made from two-dimensional materials only a few atoms thick, which allows for super-fast charging. Their prototype is only about the size of a fingernail.

“For small electronic devices, our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability,” Choudhary said.

Cyclic stability refers to how many times a battery can be charged, drained and recharged before it starts to degrade. For lithium-ion batteries, this is typically fewer than 1,500 times.

Supercapacitors with two-dimensional materials can be recharged a few thousand times. But the researchers say their prototype still works like new even after being recharged 30,000 times.

 

wearable-textiles-100616-0414_powdes_ti_f1Those that use the new materials could be used in phones, tablets and other electronic devices, as well as electric vehicles. And because they’re flexible, it could mean a significant development for wearables.

 

 

 

Technology II: Rice University

391f84fd-6427-4c06-9fb4-3d3c8a433f41A new company has been formed (with exclusive licensing rights) to exploit and commercialize the Next Generation Super-Capacitors and Batteries. The opportunity is based on Nanoporous-Nickel Flexible Thin-form, Scalable Super Capacitors and Si-Nanowire Battery Technologies, developed by Rice University and Dr. James M. Tour, PhD – named “One of the Fifty (50) most influential scientists in the World today” is the inventor, patent holder and early stage developer. tourportrait2015-300

tenka-flex-med-082616-picture1Identified Key Markets and Commercial Applications 

  • Medical Devices and Wearable Electronics
  • Drone/Marine Batteries and Power Banks
  • Powered Smart Cards and Motor Cycle/ EV Batteries
  • Sensors & Power Units for the iOT (Internet of Things) [Flexible Form, Energy Dense]  

 

The Coming Power Needs of the iOTiot-picture1

  • The IoT is populated with billions of tiny devices.
  • They’re smart.
  • They’re cheap.
  • They’re mobile.
  • They need to communicate.
  • Their numbers growing at 20%-30%/Year.

The iOT is Hungry for POWER! All this demands supercapacitors that can pack a lot of affordable power in very small volumes …Ten times more than today’s best supercapacitors can provide.

 

iot-img_0008

 

Highly Scalable – Energy Dense – Flexible Form – Rapid Charge

 Problem 1: Current capacitors and batteries being supplied to the relevant markets lack the sustainable power density, discharge and recharge cycle, warranty life combined with a ‘flexible form factor’ to scale and satisfy the identified industry need for commercial viability & performance.

tenka-smartcard-picture1Solution I: (Minimal Value Product) Tenka is currently providing full, functional Super Capacitor prototypes to an initial customer in the Digital Powered Smart Card industry and has received two (2) phased Contingent Purchase Orders during the First Year Operating Cycle for 120,000 Units and 1,200,000 Units respectively.

Solution II: For Drone/ Marine Batteries – Power Banks & Medical Devices

  • Double the current ‘Time Aloft’ (1 hour+)drone1
  • Reduces operating costs
  • Marine batteries – Less weight, longer life, flex form
  • Provides Fast Recharging,  Extended Life Warranty.
  • Full -battery prototypes being developed

Small batteries will be produced first for Powered Digital Smart Cards (In addition to the MVP Super Caps) solving packaging before scaling up drone battery operations. Technical risks are mainly associated with packaging and scaling.

The Operational Plan is to take full advantage of the gained ‘know how’ (Trade Secrets and Processes) of scaling and packaging solutions developed for the Powered Digital Smart Card and the iOT, to facilitate the roll-out of these additional Application Opportunities. Leveraging gained knowledge from operations is projected to significantly increase margins and profitability. We will begin where the Economies of Scale and Entry Point make sense (cents)!

tenka-mission-082516-picture1

“We are building and Energy Storage Company starting Small & Growing Big!”

Watch the YouTube Video

 

Michigan Tech: A Bright future for energy devices


sodium-161220175546_1_540x360A scanning electron microscope image of sodium-embedded carbon reveals the nanowall structure and pores of the material. Credit: Yun Hang Hu, Michigan Tech

A little sodium goes a long way. At least that’s the case in carbon-based energy technology. Specifically, embedding sodium in carbon materials can tremendously improve electrodes.

A research team led by Yun Hang Hu, the Charles and Carroll McArthur Professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Tech, created a brand-new way to synthesize sodium-embedded carbon nanowalls. Previously, the material was only theoretical and the journal Nano Letters recently published this invention.

High electrical conductivity and large accessible surface area, which are required for ideal electrode materials in energy devices, are opposed to each other in current materials. Amorphous carbon has low conductivity but large surface area. Graphite, on the other hand, has high conductivity but low surface area. Three-dimensional graphene has the best of both properties — and the sodium-embedded carbon invented by Hu at Michigan Tech is even better.

“Sodium-embedded carbon’s conductivity is two orders of magnitude larger than three-dimensional graphene,” Hu says. “The nanowall structure, with all its channels and pores, also has a large accessible surface area comparable to graphene.”

This is different from metal-doped carbon where metals are simply on the surface of carbon and are easily oxidized; embedding a metal in the actual carbon structure helps protect it. To make such a dream material, Hu and his team had to create a new process. They used a temperature-controlled reaction between sodium metal and carbon monoxide to create a black carbon powder that trapped sodium atoms. Furthermore, in collaboration with researchers at University of Michigan and University of Texas at Austin, they demonstrated that the sodium was embedded inside the carbon instead of adhered on the surface of the carbon. The team then tested the material in several energy devices.

In the dye-sensitized solar cell world, every tenth of a percent counts in making devices more efficient and commercially viable. In the study, the platinum-based solar cell reached a power conversion efficiency of 7.89 percent, which is considered standard. In comparison, the solar cell using Hu’s sodium-embedded carbon reached efficiencies of 11.03 percent.

Super-Capacitors can accept and deliver charges much faster than rechargeable batteries and are ideal for cars, trains, elevators and other heavy-duty equipment. The power of their electrical punch is measured in farads (F); the material’s density, in grams (g), also matters.

Activated carbon is commonly used for supercapacitors; it packs a 71 F g-1 punch. Three-dimensional graphene has more power with a 112 F g-1 measurement. Sodium-embedded carbon knocks them both out of the ring with a 145 F g-1 measurement. Plus, after 5,000 charge/discharge cycles, the material retains a 96.4 percent capacity, which indicates electrode stability.

Hu says innovation in energy devices is in great demand. He sees a bright future for sodium-embedded carbon and the improvements it offers in solar tech, batteries, fuel cells, and supercapacitors.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Michigan Technological University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wei Wei, Liang Chang, Kai Sun, Alexander J. Pak, Eunsu Paek, Gyeong S. Hwang, Yun Hang Hu. The Bright Future for Electrode Materials of Energy Devices: Highly Conductive Porous Na-Embedded Carbon. Nano Letters, 2016; 16 (12): 8029 DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b04742

University of Central Florida: New ‘Super Nano-Wire Batteries’ that Charge in Seconds and Last for a Week!


Friday 9 December 2016

Leaving your phone plugged in for hours could become a thing of the past, thanks to a new type of battery technology that charges in seconds and lasts for over a week.

Scientists from the University of Central Florida (UCF) have created a supercapacitor battery prototype that can store a whole lot of energy very, very quickly.

While it probably won’t be commercially available for a years, the researchers said it has the potential to be used in phones, wearables and electric vehicles.

“If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,” said Nitin Choudhary, a UCF postdoctoral associate, who conducted much of the research, published in the academic journal ACS Nano.
    Image: UCF

How does it work?

Unlike conventional batteries, supercapacitors store electricity statically on their surface which means they can charge and deliver energy rapidly. 

But supercapacitors have a major shortcoming: they need large surface areas in order to hold lots of energy.

To overcome the problem, the researchers developed supercapacitors built with millions of nano-wires and shells made from two-dimensional materials only a few atoms thick, which allows for super-fast charging. Their prototype is only about the size of a fingernail.

“For small electronic devices, our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability,” Choudhary said.

Cyclic stability refers to how many times a battery can be charged, drained and recharged before it starts to degrade. For lithium-ion batteries, this is typically fewer than 1,500 times. Supercapacitors with two-dimensional materials can be recharged a few thousand times. 

But the researchers say their prototype still works like new even after being recharged 30,000 times.


Those that use the new materials could be used in phones, tablets and other electronic devices, as well as electric vehicles. And because they’re flexible, it could mean a significant development for wearables.

Henrik Fisker is using a revolutionary new battery to power his Tesla killer … Two Words … Graphene Super – Capacitors


The Fisker Karma

*** Special to The Business Insider D. Muoio

Henrik Fisker’s first stab at an electric car went up in flames – literally.

His company, Fisker Automotive, was the force behind an electric hybrid called the Fisker Karma in 2012.

The $100,000 car had a host of battery issues that caused the automaker and its battery supplier, A123 Systems, to recall more than 600 Karmas, Wired reported at the time.

Separately, the Karma was known to burst into flames, which was said to be caused by the engine compartment rather than the battery. Fisker Automotive went bankrupt in 2011.

But, as first reported by Bloomberg, Fisker is back and working on an electric car under the newly minted Fisker Inc. that will be revealed in 2017. Fisker has promised a range exceeding 400 miles – which would be huge, considering the longest range currently belongs to the high-end version of the Model S, which gets 315 miles on a single charge.

We took a closer look at the revolutionary battery tech Fisker is planning to use in the electric car that would power what could very well be a Tesla killer.


2012 Karma Shadow with Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler

A Nobel-prize winning material

Rather than working with conventional lithium-ion batteries, Fisker is turning to graphene supercapacitors.



Graphene is the thinnest material on Earth and strongest material known to man. Supercapacitors also store energy like batteries, but the way they do so allows them to have faster charge times.
However, the flip side is they don’t usually store as much of a charge.
The energy applications of graphene have been known for quite some time.

In 2010, the Nobel Prize in Physics went to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for pioneering research on graphene that opened the door for scientists to study its many applications, like its potential as a battery that can conduct energy better and charge faster.

“Graphene shows a higher electron mobility, meaning that electrons can move faster through it.

This will, e.g. charge a battery much faster,” Lucia Gauchia, an assistant professor of energy storage system at Michigan Technological University, told Business Insider.

 “Graphene is also lighter and it can present a higher active surface, so that more charge can be stored.”

But what has prevented it from having a real-world application has been the high cost associated with producing it.


“The reason we are not using it yet, even though the material is not a new one, is that there is no mass production for it yet that can show reasonable cost and scalability,” Gauchia explained.

But Fisker Inc.’s battery division, Fisker Nanotech, is patenting a machine can currently produce as much as 1,000 kilograms of graphene at a cost of just 10 cents a gram, Jack Kavanaugh, the head of Fisker Nanotech, told Business Insider.

Jack Kavanaugh

The ‘super battery’

Kavanaugh hails from Nanotech Energy, a research group composed of UCLA researchers who specialize in the graphene supercapacitor Fisker will use in his car.

“This particular technology that we’re working on and are using for Fisker Nanotech is a hybrid,” Kavanaugh told Business Insider.  “We have been able to take the best of what super-capacitors can do and the best of what batteries can do and are calling it a super battery.”

Aside from the prohibitive cost of using graphene, another limiting factor has conventionally been that supercapacitors don’t hold as much of a charge as standard lithium-ion batteries because they have a lower energy density. Kavanaugh claims his machine addresses that issue by “altering” the structure of graphene.

“The challenge with using graphene in a supercapacitor in the past has been that you don’t have the same density and ability to store as much energy. Well, we have solved that issue,” he said.  “Our testing has proven to us that we actually have much greater density than the other technologies out there.”

Hybrid supercapacitor

A hybrid supercapacitor made by Maher El-Kady and Richard Kaner at UCLA. The project was funded by Nanotech Energy.UCLA

Overall, Kavanaugh is promising a product that not only holds more charge and charges faster than lithium ion batteries, but also has a better cycle life. Improving the cycle life means you don’t have to swap out the battery for a new one as frequently as you need to for lithium ion batteries.

“Our battery technology is so much better than anything out there,” Fisker told Business Insider. “Our battery technology is the first battery technology that has taken the major leap, the next big step.”

UCLA researchers like Maher El-Kady and Richard Kaner hold several patents related to graphene superconductors. Both Kaner and El-Kady work for Nanotech Energy.

Kavanaugh said prototypes of the “super battery” have already been made, with new versions of the prototype coming in a few weeks. He said the plant that will actually produce the battery will most likely open in Janaury and will be located in northern California.


It’s worth noting that Tesla CEO Elon Musk actually came to Silicon Valley to earn a PhD working on supercapacitors, and has been on record saying that supercapacitors, not batteries, will be the big breakthrough for EVs.



Cheaper than the Chevy Bolt?

Fisker said he plans to reveal the electric car in the latter half of 2017.

Fisker told Business Insider that he first plans to roll out a luxury vehicle that will most likely be built at VLF Automotive, the car company Fisker is a part of that is building his supercar, the Force 1.

That first luxury electric car will have a limited production run.

“I don’t want to say what kind of car, but it won’t be a supercar,” he said. “It will probably be in the price range of the higher end of the Model S.”

Fisker said he will then produce a consumer-friendly electric car that will be in “an even lower cost segment of both the [Chevy] Bolt and the Model 3.”

The cars will boast ranges greater than 400 miles, Fisker claims.
But Fisker better move quickly because competition in the EV space is mounting quickly. 


As mentioned earlier, Tesla currently offers a Model S that can drive 315 miles on a single charge. By the time Fisker unveils his electric car, Tesla may have already beaten that range or gotten closer to it.

Additionally, the Chevy Bolt will be the first consumer-friendly electric car with a competitive range of 238 miles when it hits dealerships by the end of this year.
Like Tesla, Chevy will look to improve that range by the time 2017 rolls around.


And that only touches the surface of the competition out there. 

Electric car start-ups like Faraday Future and Atieva are looking for a piece of the pie. Big name brands like Mercedes and Volkswagen are also looking to roll out electric vehicles within the next 3 to 5 years.

It’s also hard to put too much faith in Fisker’s claims without seeing the patent application for the machine producing Fisker Nanotech’s graphene. But Fisker remains confident his product will be better in one key area:

“We will have the lowest cost electric vehicle in the world,” he said.

New applications for Ultra(super)Capacitors ~ Startup’s energy-storage devices find uses in drilling operations, aerospace applications, electric vehicles.


mit-fastcap_0

FastCAP Systems’ ultracapacitors (pictured) can withstand extreme temperatures and harsh environments, opening up new uses for the devices across a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, aerospace and defense, and electric vehicles. Courtesy of FastCAP Systems

Devices called ultra-capacitors have recently become attractive forms of energy storage: They recharge in seconds, have very long lifespans, work with close to 100 percent efficiency, and are much lighter and less volatile than batteries. But they suffer from low energy-storage capacity and other drawbacks, meaning they mostly serve as backup power sources for things like electric cars, renewable energy technologies, and consumer devices.

But MIT spinout FastCAP Systems is developing ultracapacitors, and ultracapacitor-based systems, that offer greater energy density and other advancements. This technology has opened up new uses for the devices across a wide range of industries, including some that operate in extreme environments.

Based on MIT research, FastCAP’s ultra-capacitors store up to 10 times the energy and achieve 10 times the power density of commercial counterparts. They’re also the only commercial ultra-capacitors capable of withstanding temperatures reaching as high as 300 degrees Celsius and as low as minus 110 C, allowing them to endure conditions found in drilling wells and outer space. Most recently, the company developed a AA-battery-sized ultra-capacitor with the perks of its bigger models, so clients can put the devices in places where ultra-capacitors couldn’t fit before.

Founded in 2008, FastCAP has already taken its technology to the oil and gas industry, and now has its sights set on aerospace and defense and, ultimately, electric, hybrid, and even fuel-cell vehicles. “In our long-term product market, we hope that we can make an impact on transportation, for increased energy efficiency,” says co-founder John Cooley PhD ’11, who is now president and chief technology officer of FastCAP.

FastCAP’s co-founders and technology co-inventors are MIT alumnus Riccardo Signorelli PhD ’09 and Joel Schindall, the Bernard Gordon Professor of the Practice in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

A “hairbrush” of carbon nanotubes

Ultracapacitors use electric fields to move ions to and from the surfaces of positive and negative electrode plates, which are usually coated with a porous material called activated carbon. Ions cling to the electrodes and let go quickly, allowing for quick cycling, but the small surface area limits the number of ions that cling, restricting energy storage. Traditional ultracapacitors can, for instance, hold about 5 percent of the energy that lithium ion batteries of the same size can.

In the late 2000s, the FastCAP founding team had a breakthrough: They discovered that a tightly packed array of carbon nanotubes vertically aligned on the electrode provided much more surface area. The array was also uniform, whereas the porous material was irregular and difficult for ions to move in and out of. “A way to look at it is the industry standard looks like a nanoscopic sponge, and the vertically aligned nanotube arrays look like a nanoscopic hairbrush” that provides the ions more efficient access to the electrode surface, Cooley says.

With funding from the Ford-MIT Alliance and MIT Energy Initiative, the researchers built a fingernail-sized prototype that stored twice the energy and delivered seven to 15 times more power than traditional ultracapacitors.

In 2008, the three researchers launched FastCAP, and Cooley and Signorelli brought the business idea to Course 15.366 (Energy Ventures), where they designed a three-step approach to a market. The idea was to first focus on building a product for an early market: oil and gas. Once they gained momentum, they’d focus on two additional markets, which turned out to be aerospace and defense, and then automotive and stationary storage, such as server farms and grids. “One of the paradigms of Energy Ventures was that steppingstone approach that helped the company succeed,” Cooley says.

FastCAP then earned a finalist spot in the 2009 MIT Clean Energy Prize (CEP), which came with some additional perks. “The value there was in the diligence effort we did on the business plan, and in the marketing effect that it had on the company,” Cooley says.

Based on their CEP business plan, that year FastCAP won a $5 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy grant to design ultracapacitors for its target markets in automotive and stationary storage. FastCAP also earned a 2012 DOE Geothermal Technologies Program grant to develop very high-temperature energy storage for geothermal well drilling, where temperatures far exceed what available energy-storage devices can tolerate. Still under development, these ultracapacitors have proven to perform from minus 5 C to over 250 C.

From underground to outer space

Over the years, FastCAP made several innovations that have helped the ultracapacitors survive in the harsh conditions. In 2012, FastCAP designed its first-generation product, for the oil and gas market: a high-temperature ultracapacitor that could withstand temperatures of 150 C and posed no risk of explosion when crushed or damaged. “That was an interesting market for us, because it’s a very harsh environment with [tough] engineering challenges, but it was a high-margin, low-volume first-entry market,” Cooley says. “We learned a lot there.”

In 2014, FastCAP deployed its first commercial product. The Ulysses Power System is an ultracapacitor-powered telemetry device, a long antenna-like system that communicates with drilling equipment. This replaces the battery-powered systems that are volatile and less efficient. It also amplifies the device’s signal strength by 10 times, meaning it can be sent thousands of feet underground and through subsurface formations that were never thought penetrable in this way before.

After a few more years of research and development, the company is now ready to break into aerospace and defense. In 2015, FastCAP completed two grant programs with NASA to design ultracapacitors for deep space missions (involving very low temperatures) and for Venus missions (involving very high temperatures).

In May 2016, FastCAP continued its relationship with NASA to design an ultracapacitor-powered module for components on planetary balloons, which float to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere to observe comets. The company is also developing an ultracapacitor-based energy-storage system to increase the performance of the miniature satellites known as CubeSats. There are other aerospace applications too, Cooley says: “There are actuators systems for stage separation devices in launch vehicles, and other things in satellites and spacecraft systems, where onboard systems require high power and the usual power source can’t handle that.”

A longtime goal has been to bring ultracapacitors to electric and hybrid vehicles, providing high-power capabilities for stop-start and engine starting, torque assist, and longer battery life. In March, FastCAP penned a deal with electric-vehicle manufacturer Mullen Technologies. The idea is to use the ultracapacitors to augment the batteries in the drivetrain, drastically improving the range and performance of the vehicles. Based on their wide temperature capabilities, FastCAP’s ultracapacitors could be placed under the hood, or in various places in the vehicle’s frame, where they were never located before and could last longer than traditional ultracapacitors.

The devices could also be an enabling component in fuel-cell vehicles, which convert chemical energy from hydrogen gas into electricity that is then stored in a battery. These zero-emissions vehicles have difficulty handling surges of power — and that’s where FastCAP’s ultracapacitors can come in, Cooley says.

“The ultra-capacitors can sort of take ownership of the power and variations of power demanded by the load that the fuel cell is not good at handling,” Cooley says. “People can get the range they want for a fuel-cell vehicle that they’re anxious about with battery-powered electric vehicles. So there are a lot of good things we are enabling by providing the right ultra-capacitor technology to the right application.”

MIT: A New kind of super-capacitor made without carbon: Also Read About Rice University’s New Nano-Super Capacitors & Batteries


mit-supercapacitor_0-101016To demonstrate the supercapacitor’s ability to store power, the researchers modified an off-the-shelf hand-crank flashlight (the red parts at each side) by cutting it in half and installing a small supercapacitor in the center, in a conventional button battery case, seen at top. When the crank is turned to provide power to the flashlight, the light continues to glow long after the cranking stops, thanks to the stored energy. Photo: Melanie Gonick

Energy storage devices called supercapacitors have become a hot area of research, in part because they can be charged rapidly and deliver intense bursts of power. However, all supercapacitors currently use components made of carbon, which require high temperatures and harsh chemicals to produce.

Now researchers at MIT and elsewhere have for the first time developed a supercapacitor that uses no conductive carbon at all, and that could potentially produce more power than existing versions of this technology.

The team’s findings are being reported in the journal Nature Materials, in a paper by Mircea Dincă, an MIT associate professor of chemistry; Yang Shao-Horn, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy; and four others.

“We’ve found an entirely new class of materials for supercapacitors,” Dincă says.

Dincă and his team have been exploring for years a class of materials called metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs, which are extremely porous, sponge-like structures. These materials have an extraordinarily large surface area for their size, much greater than the carbon materials do. That is an essential characteristic for supercapacitors, whose performance depends on their surface area. But MOFs have a major drawback for such applications: They are not very electrically conductive, which is also an essential property for a material used in a capacitor.

“One of our long-term goals was to make these materials electrically conductive,” Dincă says, even though doing so “was thought to be extremely difficult, if not impossible.” But the material did exhibit another needed characteristic for such electrodes, which is that it conducts ions (atoms or molecules that carry a net electric charge) very well.

“All double-layer supercapacitors today are made from carbon,” Dincă says. “They use carbon nanotubes, graphene, activated carbon, all shapes and forms, but nothing else besides carbon. So this is the first noncarbon, electrical double-layer supercapacitor.”

One advantage of the material used in these experiments, technically known as Ni3(hexaiminotriphenylene)2, is that it can be made under much less harsh conditions than those needed for the carbon-based materials, which require very high temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius and strong reagent chemicals for pretreatment.

The team says supercapacitors, with their ability to store relatively large amounts of power, could play an important role in making renewable energy sources practical for widespread deployment. They could provide grid-scale storage that could help match usage times with generation times, for example, or be used in electric vehicles and other applications.

The new devices produced by the team, even without any optimization of their characteristics, already match or exceed the performance of existing carbon-based versions in key parameters, such as their ability to withstand large numbers of charge/discharge cycles. Tests showed they lost less than 10 percent of their performance after 10,000 cycles, which is comparable to existing commercial supercapacitors.

But that’s likely just the beginning, Dincă says. MOFs are a large class of materials whose characteristics can be tuned to a great extent by varying their chemical structure. Work on optimizing their molecular configurations to provide the most desirable attributes for this specific application is likely to lead to variations that could outperform any existing materials. “We have a new material to work with, and we haven’t optimized it at all,” he says. “It’s completely tunable, and that’s what’s exciting.”

While there has been much research on MOFs, most of it has been directed at uses that take advantage of the materials’ record porosity, such as for storage of gases. “Our lab’s discovery of highly electrically conductive MOFs opened up a whole new category of applications,” Dincă says. Besides the new supercapacitor uses, the conductive MOFs could be useful for making electrochromic windows, which can be darkened with the flip of a switch, and chemoresistive sensors, which could be useful for detecting trace amounts of chemicals for medical or security applications. (MIT Article continued below)

rice-nanoporus-battery-102315-untitled-1You will Also Want To Read: Nanoporous Material Combines the Best of Batteries and Supercapacitors for ESS (Energy Storage Systems): Rice University: Dr. James M. Tour

Researchers at Rice University in Houston, Texas, have developed a nanoporous material that has the energy density (the amount of energy stored per unit mass) of an electrochemical battery and the power density (the maximum amount of power that can be supplied per unit mass) of a supercapacitor. It’s important to note that the energy storage device enabled by the material is not claimed to be either of these types of energy storage devices.

Follow the Link Here: New Nanoporous Super Capacitors & Batteries from Rice Univeristy

 

 

(MIT continued … ) While the MOF material has advantages in the simplicity and potentially low cost of manufacturing, the materials used to make it are more expensive than conventional carbon-based materials, Dincă says. “Carbon is dirt cheap. It’s hard to find anything cheaper.” But even if the material ends up being more expensive, if its performance is significantly better than that of carbon-based materials, it could find useful applications, he says.

This discovery is “very significant, from both a scientific and applications point of view,” says Alexandru Vlad, a professor of chemistry at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, who was not involved in this research. He adds that “the supercapacitor field was (but will not be anymore) dominated by activated carbons,” because of their very high surface area and conductivity. But now, “here is the breakthrough provided by Dinca et al.: They could design a MOF with high surface area and high electrical conductivity, and thus completely challenge the supercapacitor value chain! There is essentially no more need of carbons for this highly demanded technology.”

And a key advantage of that, he explains, is that “this work shows only the tip of the iceberg. With carbons we know pretty much everything, and the developments over the past years were modest and slow. But the MOF used by Dinca is one of the lowest-surface-area MOFs known, and some of these materials can reach up to three times more [surface area] than carbons. The capacity would then be astonishingly high, probably close to that of batteries, but with the power performance [the ability to deliver high power output] of supercapacitors.”

The research team included former MIT postdoc Dennis Sheberla (now a postdoc at Harvard University), MIT graduate student John Bachman, Joseph Elias PhD ’16, and Cheng-Jun Sun of Argonne National Laboratory. The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through the Center for Excitonics, the Sloan Foundation, the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, 3M, and the National Science Foundation.