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Current battery technology has often posed an issue for many industries. However, the discovery of graphene has given scientists and engineers new options when developing the next generation of energy storage products.
Affordable, efficient supercapacitors would revolutionize the automobile and electronic industries, allowing designers and engineers to overcome the limitations that conventional batteries put on capacity, charging time, size, and the overall life-cycle of our products.
One such project run by the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, is using graphene to build a high-performance supercapacitor.
Highly Porous form of Graphene
Recently, Santhakumar Kannappan and a team of Korean engineers at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea have developed a high-performance supercapacitor using a highly porous form of graphene that has a large surface area.
To achieve this, they reduced graphene oxide particles using hydrazine in a water solution that was then agitated using ultrasound. The graphene powder was then put inside a coin-shaped cell, and dried at a temperature of 140°C (284°F) and pressure of 300/kg/cm for 5h.
The resulting material stores almost as much energy as a lithium-ion battery and is able to charge and discharge in seconds. The life-cycle of the supercapcitor is dramatically increased to thousands of charging cycles allowing for a more robust energy supply.
Amazingly, a single gram of the highly porous graphene material developed by Santhakumar and his team has the same surface area as a basketball. This increased surface area allows the supercapacitor to store high levels of energy.
Video Coutesy of Garrett Fogerlie
The Importance of Graphene Supercapacitors
A variety of car manufacturers now have their own hybrid or fully electric cars on offer. This new technology will allow manufacturers to build cars with increased range, longer life and short charging times.
One particluar area where a car can generate a charge for these supercapacitors is during braking. Recovering the otherwise wasted energy during braking and reusing it, would be made possible with a graphene supercapacitor.
While vehicles using supercapacitors are already present in the market place, graphene supercapacitors could help make these cars a more viable option compared with their petrol or diesel alternatives.
At the moment, graphene supercapacitors seem to be an ideal energy storage solution, but only time will tell how successfully this technology can be scaled up and adapted to vehicles and other gadgets in the future.