Nanotech Breakthrough Could Offer More Efficient Energy Storage

graphene image

image: Wikipedia

Many people believe that lack of efficient enough storage is one of the hurdles to be cleared before renewable energy can truly reach its potential. Towards that end, scientists from the University of Texas as Austin have announced that they have made a nanotech breakthrough using Graphene, a one atom thick carbon material, which they say could lead to new energy storage solutions. Could Double Storage Capacity of Ultracapacitors
Rod Ruoff, a mechanical engineering professor at UT Austin and his team are testing graphene-based ultracapacitor cells, using chemically modified graphene and different common electrolytes. While currently the electric charge stored per weight of graphene is similar to existing ultracapacitors, computer modeling suggests it may be possible to double this capacity.

Ruff explains it a bit more:

Through such a device, electrical charge can be rapidly stored on the graphene sheets, and released from them as well for the delivery of electrical current and, thus, electrical power. There are reasons to think that the ability to store electrical charge can be about double that of current commercially used materials. We are working to see if that prediction will be borne out in the laboratory.

A Football Field Worth of Surface Area
In the original article on ENS Ruoff said that Graphene's surface area is nearly that of a football field in about about 1/500th of a pound of material. This means that, "a greater number of positive or negative ions in the electrolyte can form in a layer on the graphene sheets resulting in exceptional levels of stored charge."

UPDATE: We generally try to coordinate our posts here at TreeHugger so that two writers aren't covering the same subject, pretty basic really. So imagine my surprise and shock when I thought I had posted on something a colleague had aleady written about but had missed. But then I discovered that Mike had written about a different "nanotech breakthrough" dealing with ultracapacitors, this time from researchers in China and not Texas. Take a look at the article linked above for more info. How many nanotech breakthroughs can there be in a day?

via :: ENS

More at :: Science Daily
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