Supercapacitors? It’s a Wrap

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Recent entries in Electricvehiclesresearch.com alerted your editor to a novel combination of batteries and supercapacitors to gain power and energy – usually mutually exclusive in energy storage devices.  The Paper Battery Company (an intriguing name) makes an extremely thin supercapacitor that can be literally wrapped around a battery or structure to make a hybrid energy storage device that allows the best features of both. Their PowerWrapper™ Supercapacitor is a half-millimeter thick (or as Paper Battery insists –thin) 4.5 Volt device that can be flexed to fit over or around “your device, folds, bends or cut outs.”  This conformability still allows hundreds of thousands of charge/discharge cycles, supercapacitor longevity being one of their big selling points. Others, according to the firm’s …

Kaner and El-Kady Explore New Areas of Energy Storage

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Now here’s a mission statement.  “Engineering three-dimensional hybrid supercapacitors and microsupercapacitors for high-performance integrated energy storage.” Conventional wisdom says that super and ultracapacitors don’t have the energy storage of batteries, and even given their outstanding ability to deliver power at high levels pretty much instantly, will never be able to run an electric vehicle for extended periods.   So many researchers, with the notable exception of Dr. Richard Kaner and graduate student Maher El-Kady at UCLA have turned their attention to batteries, and not capacitors. They recognize that electronic devices have improved immensely over the past decades, but “the slow pace of battery development has held back technological progress.” Looking to synthesize rather than differentiate, the two California NanoSystems Institute researchers …

High-capacity, Soft Batteries From Trees

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

This is not pulp fiction, but pulp fact, trees being converted into squishy new nerf-like batteries. Researchers at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University have made elastic, high-capacity batteries from wood pulp.  The foam-like battery material can withstand shock and stress, according to the schools.  Max Hamedi, a researcher at KTH and Harvard University, says, “It is possible to make incredible materials from trees and cellulose.” The wood-based aerogel material can be used for three-dimensional structures, important for overcoming certain restrictions imposed by two-dimensional approaches.  Hamedi explains, “There are limits to how thin a battery can be, but that becomes less relevant in 3D.  We are no longer restricted to two dimensions. We can build in three …

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 …

Buy Silkworm Futures Now

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We tend to think of batteries as being inanimate objects, even though they expand, contract and flex their electric muscles within their cylindrical or pouch forms as they charge and discharge.  This type of internal wiggling helps reduce and finally destroy the battery’s ability to make our remotes change channels or keep our airplanes flying. Researchers at the Beijing Institute of Technology have found a way to use the product of much internal and external wiggling, natural silk that is “biomass-derived” and processed to form carbon-based nanosheets that might be used in lithium-ion batteries and other energy storage devices. The American Chemical Society reports that Chuanbao Cao and his researchers worked with the idea that carbon is a key component …

Gaining an Edge for Energy Production and Storage

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Rice University scientists who want to gain an edge in energy production and storage report they have found it in molybdenum disulfide.  From Wikipedia: “Molybdenum disulfide is the inorganic compound with the formula MoS 2. The compound is classified as a metal dichalcogenide. It is a silvery black solid that occurs as the mineral molybdenite, the principal ore for molybdenum.   MoS 2 is relatively unreactive. It is unaffected by dilute acids and oxygen. In appearance and feel,molybdenum disulfide is similar to graphite. It is widely used as a solid lubricant because of its low friction properties and robustness.” Let’s break down one probably unfamiliar term (it was to your editor).  A chalogen is one of the members of the Vla group in the periodic table and includes oxygen, sulfur, selenium, tellurium, and polonium.  Add a more electropositive element to …

Flow Batteries at Stanford and in Lichtenstein

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Yi Cui is a Stanford University associate professor of materials science and engineering and a member of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, a joint institute with SLAC, the National Acceleration Laboratory.  He has spoken at three Electric Aircraft Symposiums, and has worked for at least the last decade on various technologies and tactics to bring battery science to a high level. His latest effort involves “a low-cost, long-life battery that could enable solar and wind energy to become major suppliers to the electrical grid,” according to a press release from SLAC.  Dr. Cui says, “We believe our new battery may be the best yet designed to regulate the natural fluctuations of these alternative energies.” Of concern …

Vanadium Oxide/Lithium Batteries Offer Promise of High Power, Long Life

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Henry Ford once brought a French metallurgist to Detroit, part of his plan to build cars with lighter, stronger steel.  Vanadium, which the French used in their automobiles, offered him the chance to make the Model T lighter and stronger, and its part in the car’s alloyed steel gave the Model T the longevity which followed it through one of the longest production runs in history. Now battery researchers are looking at another quality of this mineral, its ability to form a superior cathode for batteries that “could supply both high energy density and significant power density.   Combined with graphene, the wonder material du jour, vanadium oxide (VO2) could couple longevity echoing the Model T’s with charge and discharge rapidity …

Ben Berry and His Solar-powered AirShips

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Ben Berry’s father, Ben Berry, Sr., was a Tuskegee Airman, part of the second wave of African-American recruits who fought their way into the Army Air Corps in 1943.  Instead of fighters, this group learned to fly the B-25 Mitchell bomber and was to launch from aircraft carriers for tactical attacks on Japan. Following the war, Ben’s father earned an aeronautical engineering degree, and applied his skills to solving a worrisome pitch stability problem on the XB-70.  He designed the control systems for the X-15 project – which required a mix of aerodynamic controls and thrusters. Perhaps this proud background helped his son recently become Chief Technology Officer for the City of Portland, following a career as Chief Information Officer …

No Pain in This Membrane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 9 Comments

On September 30, the National University of Singapore announced the world’s first energy-storage membrane, with the claim that it “outstrips existing rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors,” and according to Science Daily, “Surpasses existing rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors.” The cheese-cloth appearance looks a bit like a gauze bandage, but when sandwiched between what are alternatively described as two thin metal plates or two graphite plates can hold a significant charge much greater than that of conventional batteries or supercapacitors. The material, developed by a team from the National University of Singapore’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NUSNNI), and led by principle investigator Dr Xie Xian Ning, is capable of holding a “charge at 0.2 farads per square centimeter. This is well above the …