Graphene Supercapacitor Shows Promise and Longevity

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A forever battery would be nice, wouldn’t it?  Something low cost that could be recharged in seconds, time after time, indefinitely, and be about as environmentally sensitive as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club combined – there’s the ideal battery. That might seem like a miracle, and it relies on that miracle material – graphene – for its many astounding properties to help make this flexible battery a reality. Dr. Han Lin of Swinburne University in New South Wales, Australia has 3D printed his prototype battery at a much lower cost than with previous production techniques.  The immediate “take” on this material is that it could be used in things like watch straps, powering the attached timekeeper, or in (inter)active sports …

EAS IX:  Materials Design for Battery Breakthroughs

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Yi Cui’s presentation title ended with, “from Fundamental Science to Commercialization,” an indication of the long, tough road that new developments are forced to take.  Considering that Sony introduced the Lithium battery as a commercial entity in 1991 (and that following at least an 18-year slog from laboratory to mass production), mostly incremental changes have come for the chemistry, echoing Dr. Cui’s pronouncement at EAS III that lithium batteries followed a “growth curve” of about eight percent per year, meaning that about every nine years, they should double in performance. Cui’s estimate has been borne out in reality, Nature magazine reporting in 2014, “Modern Li-ion batteries hold more than twice as much energy by weight as the first commercial …

MSCs Could be AOK

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Of late, your editor has noticed several press releases concerning scientific findings that don’t read in a scientific way.  You know that objective kind of writing: the use of words and phrases such as “tend to,” “suggesting,” or “of potential interest,” and the ever-popular, “further study is required.”  An announcement from the Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) and Department of Energy Science at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea tells a hopeful story of a new discovery mimicking nature and “displaying electrical properties about five orders of magnitude higher than similar lithium batteries, and even claiming, “stunning test results.”   These sound more like PR than simple declarative statements. Before running to your broker to see if …

Samsung Almost Doubles Li-Ion Battery Capacity – in the Near Future

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Several sources report on Samsung’s announcement that they have developed a new technology that enables them to coat silicon battery cathodes with high crystal graphene, virtually doubling the capacity of lithium-ion batteries. Of course, Samsung relates this immediately to their popular smartphones and tablets, but the significance of this is not lost on electric vehicle designers.  Doubling the range of EVs “without adding a single pound of weight” would be a true game changer.  But don’t get excited too quickly. Silicon electrodes have been a major research effort for people like Dr. Yi Cui, who spoke at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium.  Issue surrounding their successful use have included silicon’s expansion when being charged and contraction when being discharged.  This …

Designer Carbon: High Surface Area and Porosity

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Stanford researchers, working with scientists at Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and China’s National Laboratory of Microstructures (Nanjing), School of Electronic Science and Engineering, at Nanjing University, have squeezed carbon as flat (if not flatter than) as graphene and poked lots of well-sized holes in it to make designer battery and supercapacitor components.  Professor  Zhenan Bao led the efforts at Stanford. The combined teams’ paper, “Ultrahigh Surface Area Three-Dimensional Porous Graphitic Carbon from Conjugated Polymeric Molecular Framework,” appeared as a cover article in the May 18 edition of the journal ACS Central Science. The paper explains, “High surface area porous carbon materials are of great technological importance due to their diverse functionalities and excellent physical/chemical robustness. Their …

Put Three Things Together – 3D, Aerogel, Graphene – and It’s Got to be Good

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

If there were a pantheon of technological hipness, right now three front-runners for induction would be 3D printing, aerogel and graphene.  They all rank high on the disruptive technology scale, have enormous amounts of good press, and excite the imagination with their potential. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have gone beyond combining chocolate and peanut butter by blending the three higher-tech ingredients into a rather amazing battery material with excellent electrical and mechanical properties.  We have discussed the idea of structural batteries in this blog, and this new melding of technologies holds much promise. Aerogel, as defined in the Laboratory’s announcement, “is a synthetic porous, ultralight material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component of the gel has …

Caging Hydrogen in Self-assembling Origami Structures

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Let’s say that you’re really good at folding pieces of paper into miniature birds such as cranes, or life-size elephants, something origami artist Sipho Mabona did recently, starting with a 50-foot by 50-foot piece of paper (he had help from up to 40 others).   The paper elephant, including a metal subframe to support it, weighs over 500 pounds. How about using origami to trap hydrogen in a novel approach to storing energy for fuel cells?  Only, instead of paper, you might use sheets of graphene cleverly folded into cages no more than a few nanometers across – the opposite of the elephant in the art gallery.  Researchers at the University of Maryland’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Maryland NanoCenter, have …

Solar Cells a Few Atoms Thick

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have come up with a way to create one-atom thick, flexible, semi-transparent solar cells.  Instead of the graphene often touted as a means toward such an end, however, the scientists have turned to atom-thick layers of tungsten diselenide for their wonder material. Experiments show that ultrathin layers of tungsten and selenium may have properties that would make them applicable even to electric aircraft use – if they can capture a significant amount of energy – or at least as much as thin-film silicon cells can. Graphene has been a popular favorite since its Russian “discoverers” were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2010.  One of the strongest materials, graphene can manage stresses …

Graphene Works and Plays Well With Other Materials

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Graphene is a highly promising material, one atom thick, strong enough to support an elephant standing on a pencil (only theoretically so far, with no actual demonstration having taken place), and electrically conductive.  All these properties bode well for its use in batteries, solar cells, and even energy-storing structural members.  One concern, however, has been in how graphene would interact with other materials in a practical setting.  After all, so far most experiments with graphene have taken place at the atomic level, not a feasible working arrangement for the ham-handed and those without scanning electron microscopes in their garage workshops. Dr. Marc Gluba and Professor Dr. Norbert Nickel of the Helmholz Zentrum Berlin have, doubtless with some pretty intense tools …

Thinner than Kleenex®, as Powerful as the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

David L. Chandler of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) News Office reports that an MIT research team headed by Jeffrey Grossman has found a way to make sheets that push “towards the ultimate power conversion from a material” for solar power.  His team has managed to fabricate molecule-thick photovoltaic sheets which could pack hundreds of times more power per weight than conventional solar cells. Senior author of a new paper on the team’s study in Nano Letters, Grossman found that despite the interest in two-dimensional materials such as graphene – only an atom thick – few have studied their potential for solar applications.  Grossman says, “They’re not only OK, but it’s amazing how well they do.” Stacking sheets of …