Innovation That Matters

The supercapacitor | Photo source UCL

Researchers develop fast-charging, bendable energy storage

Agriculture & Energy

The system has potential to be used as a portable power supply for electric vehicles, phones and wearable tech

Spotted: Researchers at UCL and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a bendable supercapacitor made from graphene. The capacitor has the potential to charge quickly and safely store a record-high level of energy for use over a long period. 

The capacitor is still at the proof-of-concept stage; however, it shows great potential to store a large amount of energy in a small space and could be used as a portable power supply for electric vehicles, phones and wearable tech.

The new design uses an innovative graphene electrode material with pores that can be changed in size to better store charge. Because of this, the energy density of the supercapacitor is able to reach a record 88.1 Wh/L (Watt-hour per litre) — the highest ever reported energy density for carbon-based supercapacitors.

Senior author and Dean of UCL’s Mathematical & Physical Sciences, Professor Ivan Parkin says: “Successfully storing a huge amount of energy safely in a compact system is a significant step towards improved energy storage technology. Imagine needing only ten minutes to fully charge your electric car or a couple of minutes for your phone and it lasting all day.”

Moreover, the supercapacitor can be bent to 180 degrees without affecting performance. Even when bent at 180 degrees, it performed similarly to when it was flat and still retained 97.8 per cent of its capacity after 5,000 cycles. Risk of explosion is also minimised, as it doesn’t use a liquid electrolyte, making it optimal for integrating into bendy phones or wearable electronics.

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