People around the world are waiting for better energy-storage solutions for electric cars and mobile devices. Now, the first supercapacitor that uses a metal-organic substance at least gives us hope for the future.
Whether it comes to electric cars, tablets or other mobile electronic equipment: Energy storage is still the greatest weakness. But that could change in the future because scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a supercapacitor with 6.5 times more “power” and a service life of more than 10,000 cycles. The latter would be a dream value for conventional batteries, but is actually quite normal for so-called ultra- or supercapacitors, or “super caps”.
Super storage solutions with super energy density
However, supercapacitors have one problem: their specific capacity, or energy density, is lower than that of conventional lithium-ion batteries by a factor of 10. That is the amount of electrical energy stored in a given system per unit mass or volume of the capacitor. One way to increase it is to make the internal surface area of the supercapacitor as large as possible. For example, electrodes made of just five grams of activated carbon have the surface area of at least one football field.
But that was not enough for the researchers in Korea. So they processed carbon and metal oxide to form extremely porous metal-organic substances in the nanometer range. They not only have the necessary surface area, they also have the right porous structure to rapidly transport the ions.
The resulting material for future storage solutions is the first of its kind to combine the advantages of high energy density with rapid charging and discharging. And that is a storage-solution characteristic that electric automobiles in particular as well as other mobile electronic devices have been waiting for for quite some time. However, scientists in Korea have not said when the first supercapacitors that use this super-material will actually be available for the “electromobile”.