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Monday, 6 May 2013

Batteries and superchargers explained. 'Battery' that Charges 100 Times Faster-due to a material crafted by engineers from UCLA for use as a high-performance 'supercapacitor'

I have blogged this article for educational purposes as much as for the high quality of the research behind it. If UCLA is a reference in itself the work was done and published by an international team not highlighted by some news.   
Co-authors of the study included Dunn; Sarah Tolbert, a UCLA chemistry and biochemistry professor; Augustyn and fellow UCLA Engineering graduate student Jong Woung Kim; Cornell University professor Héctor Abruña; Cornell postgraduate researcher Michael Lowe; Patrice Simon, a professor at the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France; and graduate student Jérémy Come and researcher Pierre-Louis Taberna of the Université Paul Sabatier.  
cf. Peer reviewed publication, Nature Materials-Letters in end references. 

If I may venture a comment in the face of such distinguished researchers and journalist it is that this work is one more excellent example of  Richard Feynman's lecture title "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" incidently given at Caltech on December 29, 1959 's 

Batteries and supercapacitors differ in the way they store electrical power. 

-Batteries store power in the form of chemical energy, and while that's a very efficient way to store a considerable amount of power, it makes charging and power delivery relatively slow: electrons (or other charged particles, lithium ions being one common example) must work their way through a solid substance in both directions, which takes time. 
-Supercapacitors, on the other hand, essentially just "hang" those charged particles on a matrix without forcing them to migrate though a solid material, meaning that charging can take place as fast as the electrons can move. But the technology is limited by the fact that storage takes place only along the capacitor material's surface area, which means that once the material gets larger than wafer-thin, its storage capacity per unit of weight drops.

Plenty of room at the bottom and below is an Illustration of the form of nobium oxide synthesized by UCLA researchers (UCLA/Nature Materials)



Illustration of form of nobium oxide synthesized by UCLA researchers (UCLA/Nature Materials)

The team at  UCLA reports that it has made a significant step in addressing this persistent problem with supercapacitors, namely, the limitations on their effective size.
The researchers at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have found a way to use niobium oxide as a matrix to allow the fabrication of supercapacitors the size of batteries, but which could conceivably charge and deliver power hundreds of times as quickly as typical batteries can.
Their synthesized a material that shows high capability for both the rapid storage and release of energy.

Scope of Applications:
Improvement in the power delivery of systems ranging from urban electrical grids to regenerative braking in hybrid vehicles through this new synthesized a material that shows high capability for both the rapid storage and release of energy. The UCLA researchers claim that the development could lead to extremely rapid charging of devices, ranging in applications from mobile electronics to industrial equipment. For example, supercapacitors are currently used in energy-capture systems that help power loading cranes at ports, reducing the use of hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel.


The paper, published in the April 14 issue of the journal Nature Materials, a team led by professor of materials science and engineering Bruce Dunn defines the characteristics of a synthesized form of niobium oxide with a great facility for storing energy. The material would be used in a "supercapacitor," a device that combines the high storage capacity of lithium ion batteries and the rapid energy-delivery ability of common capacitors.

UCLA researchers said the development could lead to extremely rapid charging of devices, ranging in applications from mobile electronics to industrial equipment. For example, supercapacitors are currently used in energy-capture systems that help power loading cranes at ports, reducing the use of hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel.

"Blurring the lines between what is a battery and what is a supercapacitor," according to Veronica Augustyn, a graduate student in materials science at UCLA and lead author of the paper. "The discovery takes the disadvantages of capacitors and the disadvantages of batteries and does away with them."


Batteries effectively store energy but do not deliver power efficiently because the charged carriers, or ions, move slowly through the solid battery material. Capacitors, which store energy at the surface of a material, generally have low storage capabilities.

Researchers on Dunn's team synthesized a type of niobium oxide that demonstrates substantial storage capacity through "intercalation pseudocapacitance," in which ions are deposited into the bulk of the niobium oxide in the same way grains of sand can be deposited between pebbles.

As a result, electrodes as much as 40 microns thick — about the same width as many commercial battery components — can quickly store and deliver energy on the same time scales as electrodes more than 100 times thinner.

Dunn emphasizes that although the electrodes are an important first step, "further engineering at the nanoscale and beyond will be necessary to achieve practical devices with high energy density that can charge in under a minute."

REFERENCES:
People & Universities involved: Co-authors of the study included Dunn; Sarah Tolbert, a UCLA chemistry and biochemistry professor; Augustyn and fellow UCLA Engineering graduate student Jong Woung Kim; Cornell University professor Héctor Abruña; Cornell postgraduate researcher Michael Lowe; Patrice Simon, a professor at the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France; and graduate student Jérémy Come and researcher Pierre-Louis Taberna of the Université Paul Sabatier
.
Material & Financial Support:
The research from the Energy Frontier Research Centers, UCLA-based Molecularly Engineered Energy Materials and Cornell–based Energy Materials Center, was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy; a European Research Council grant supported research from Université Paul Sabatier.

The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, established in 1945,Ranked among the top 10 engineering schools at public universities nationwide, 

MORE REFERENCES & LINKS:
Imagine a 'Battery' that Charges 100 Times Faster | Science | ReWire | KCET

REFERENCE: UCLA_Engineers craft material for high-performance 'supercapacitor'

Reference: Nature Materials-Letter 14 April 2013.    Supplimentary Material

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