Graphine-Based Supercaps Show Promise for Wind and Solar Energy Storage

August 25, 2020 by Luke James

The research team behind this new approach thinks that it’ll help meet the growing demand for increased storage capacity.

As more people rely on wireless electronics, the global demand for clean energy sources such as solar and wind rises as well. But these green energy sources also call for novel storage solutions, some of which include heat-based energy storage, smart batteries, and hydrogen fuel cells.

Now, researchers from the Integrated Nano Systems Lab (INSys Lab) at the University of Technology Sydney have turned to supercapacitors for higher energy storage as well.


Supercapacitors for Clean Energy Storage

The need for advanced energy storage technologies, such as maintenance-free batteries with high energy densities, has never been more pressing. However, it’s not all about batteries. Supercapacitors are promising candidates to help meet storage needs due to their inherent environmental friendliness and long cyclability. 


Supercapacitors may be a useful solution for green energy storage

Supercapacitors may be a useful solution for green energy storage. Image used courtesy of Eaton

Dr. Mojtaba Amjadipour and his colleagues from UTS have been studying this alternative, their most recent finding published in the July 2020 issue of Batteries and Supercaps. According to the researchers, their work originated from a “curiosity of exploring the operation limits of the cells,” and led to unforeseen results.


Enhancing Supercapacitor Performance

These "unforeseen results" are that graphene (graphitic carbon) directly fabricated on silicon surfaces offers significant potential for on-chip supercapacitors that can be embedded into integrated systems. 

Supercapacitors are usually fabricated with liquid electrolytes. These cannot be miniaturized and they are prone to leakage—two challenges that have prompted a flurry of research into gel-based and solid-state electrolytes.


Recent work by Sydney researchers is said to significantly improve graphene-based supercapacitors

Recent work by Sydney researchers is said to significantly improve graphene-based supercapacitors. Image used courtesy of Dawei Su, University of Technology Sydney


By tailoring these electrolytes to carbon-based electrode materials such as graphene—much like the UTS team has managed to do in this study—researchers could dramatically enhance energy storage performance. 

As such, the UTS team’s research indicates a simple path to significantly enhancing the performance of supercapacitors using gel-based electrolytes. With more work, their approach could lead to the development of further miniaturized on-chip energy storage systems that are both compatible with silicon electronics and capable of supporting the power demands of integrated smart systems.