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Supercapacitors charge almost instantly and have much longer lifespans than Li-ion batteries, but they typically can only store tiny amounts of power. Batteries, on the other hand, can hold large amounts of power, but take ages to fully charge – one of the biggest challenges with electric vehicles.
But what if there was a supercapacitor that was capable of storing much more energy than any of its predecessors? Wouldn’t that be a remarkable breakthrough for the electric vehicle industry and hold enormous amounts of potential for other applications too?
Well, a team of British and Chinese scientists say they've developed a new graphene-based supercapacitor that can charge at high speed and store 10 times more energy per volume than anything previously available.
Image credit: UCL
Despite being still in the prototype stage, the scientists from University College London and the Chinese Academy of Sciences say their new supercapacitor has the potential to be used as an effective energy storage device for a number of different applications, replacing modern batteries in wearable tech, smartphones, electric vehicles and more. The great news is that charging times could be reduced to just several minutes.
Publishing the results of their work in the journal Nature Energy*, the scientists say their supercapacitor is totally flexible and has been tested at a record 88.1 watt-hours per litre (Wh/l). That puts it on a par with the upper limit of what a typical lead-acid battery can store.
Furthermore, the supercapacitor doesn’t let itself down in terms of longevity, with the team proving that it can retain 97.8% of its energy capacity after 5,000 cycles – so no need to replace it on a regular basis (in theory).
While more work is needed to improve the design, this supercapacitor could be revolutionary if it ever makes it through to production.
What do you think? Are supercapacitors going to replace batteries in the near future, or is the tech still a long way off? Tweet us @PolytecNews