A Fast-Charging Supercapacitor Technology to Revolutionize Energy Use in EVs

May 23, 2020 by Luke James

Researchers at the University of Surrey have developed a new “ground-breaking” supercapacitor technology and claim that it brings the world a “step closer” to clean energy storage.

The researchers claim that their supercapacitor technology can store and deliver at high power rates, making it specifically suitable for mobile applications like electric vehicles. In a paper published in the journal Energy and Environmental Materials, the Surrey researchers from the Advanced Technology Institute described their new technology. 


‘Revolutionizing’ Energy Use in Electric Vehicles

According to the Surry team in an official press release, the technology “has the potential to revolutionize energy use in electric vehicles and reduce renewable-based energy loss in the national grid.” The team also believes that it could also help advance wind, wave, and solar energy by smoothing out their intermittent nature. 

The supercapacitor technology is based on carbon-encapsulated polyaniline (PANI) composite material, which is able to store energy via a pseudocapacitance mechanism—where electricity is electrochemically stored in an electrochemical capacitor.


Gas fuelling station.

The University of Surrey researchers believe that their methods will revolutionize the use of energy use in EVs and reduce renewable energy loss for national power grids. 


Higher Performance and Stability for Charge Cycles 

The composite material is fabricated using a novel electrodeposition method of PANI on a carbon nanotube forest, grown on carbon paper. This is followed up by coating an amorphous carbon layer via hydrothermal carbonization of glucose, forming a three-layer structure. The cheap PANI material is highly conductive and can be used as the electrode in a supercapacitor. The electrode stores charge by trapping ions within the electrode. It does this by exchanging electrons with the ion, which “dopes” the material.

Using carbon nanotubes as a base offers excellent electronic and structural connection for the PANI nanofiber network, while the amorphous carbon coating reduces resistance and promotes enhanced electrochemical performance and stability during charge cycles. 


A ‘Baseline’ for High Energy Devices

Ash Stott, lead scientist on the project and Ph.D student from the University of Surrey, said: “The future of global energy will depend on consumers and industry using and generating energy more efficiently and super-capacitors have already been proven to be one of the leading technologies for intermittent storage as well as high-power delivery. Our work has established a baseline for high energy devices that also operate at high power, effectively widening the range of potential applications.”