Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Supercapacitors: Cheaper, greener, alternative energy storage

Date:
May 24, 2011
Source:
Stevens Institute of Technology
Summary:
Students are working on a supercapacitor that will allow us to harness more solar energy through biochar electrodes for supercapacitors, resulting in a cleaner, greener planet.

Every year, the world consumes approximately 15 terawatts of power, according to some estimates. Since the amount of annual harvestable solar energy has been estimated at 50 terawatts, students at Stevens Institute of Technology are working on a supercapacitor that will allow us to harness more of this renewable energy through biochar electrodes for supercapacitors, resulting in a cleaner, greener planet.

Supercapacitors are common today in solar panels and hydrogen fuel cell car batteries, but the material they use to store energy, activated carbon, is unsustainable and expensive. Biochar, on the other hand, represents a cheap, green alternative. The Chemical Engineering Senior Design team of Rachel Kenion, Liana Vaccari, and Katie Van Strander has designed biochar electrodes for supercapacitors, and is looking to eventually bring their solution to market. The group is advised by Dr. Woo Lee, the George Meade Bond Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

For their project, the team designed, fabricated, and tested a prototype supercapacitor electrode. The group demonstrated biochar's feasibility as an alternative to activated carbon for electrodes, which can be used in hybrid electric automobile batteries or home energy storage in solar panels.

"While the team's findings are preliminary, the approach taken by us represents a small, but potentially very important step in realizing sustainable energy future over the next few decades," says Dr. Lee.

Biochar is viewed as a green solution to the activated carbon currently used in supercapacitor electrodes. Unlike activated carbon, biochar is the byproduct of the pyrolysis process used to produce biofuels. That is, biochar comes from the burning of organic matter. As the use of biofuels increases, biochar production increases as well. "With our process, we are able to take that biochar and put it to good use in supercapacitors. Our supply comes from goldenrod crop, and through an IP-protected process, most organics, metals, and other impurities are removed. It is a more sustainable method of production than activated carbon," Liana says. Another significant advantage: biochar is nontoxic and will not pollute the soil when it is tossed out. The team estimates that biochar costs almost half as much as activated carbon, and is more sustainable because it reuses the waste from biofuel production, a process with sustainable intentions to begin with.

One of the largest concerns for solar panel production today is the sheer cost of manufacturing supercapacitors. Current photovoltaic arrays rely on supercapacitors to store the energy that is harnessed from the sun. And while the growth rate of supercapacitors is advancing at 20 percent a year, their cost is still very high, in part because they require activated carbon. Biochar, on the other hand, is cheaper and readily available as a byproduct of a process already used in energy production.

"My favorite part of this project was seeing the creation of the prototype," Katie says. "It was cool to be able to hold it in my hand and test it and say that I made this."

"Using this technology, we can reduce the cost of manufacturing supercapacitors by lowering the cost of the electrodes," Katie says. "Our goal is eventually to manufacture these electrodes and sell them to a company that already makes supercapacitors. Once supercapacitors become cheaper, they will become more common and be integrated into more and more devices."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stevens Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Stevens Institute of Technology. "Supercapacitors: Cheaper, greener, alternative energy storage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110523101909.htm>.
Stevens Institute of Technology. (2011, May 24). Supercapacitors: Cheaper, greener, alternative energy storage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110523101909.htm
Stevens Institute of Technology. "Supercapacitors: Cheaper, greener, alternative energy storage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110523101909.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins