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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering > Energy Storage Related Research at the UAlbany NanoCollege

Pradeep Haldar
Head Nanoengineering Constellation; Professor of Nanoengineering
UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Abstract:
The energy consumption is projected to double in the next fifty years. The low carbon foot print of renewables such as wind, solar, fuel cells, etc. makes them especially attractive in this era of environmental consciousness. The intermittent nature of energy from renewables is not suitable for commercial and residential grid applications, unless the power can be delivered 24/7, with minimum fluctuation. Therefore, the viability of renewables as a source of energy critically depends on energy storage technologies such as batteries and ultracapacitors.

June 16th, 2009

Energy Storage Related Research at the UAlbany NanoCollege

The energy consumption is projected to double in the next fifty years. The low carbon foot print of renewables such as wind, solar, fuel cells, etc. makes them especially attractive in this era of environmental consciousness. The intermittent nature of energy from renewables is not suitable for commercial and residential grid applications, unless the power can be delivered 24/7, with minimum fluctuation. Therefore, the viability of renewables as a source of energy critically depends on energy storage technologies such as batteries and ultracapacitors. Energy and power density increases as a square of voltage in ultracapacitors, providing short bursts of high power, most useful for emergency applications. In order to make energy storage technologies advantageous in all applications; augmentation of energy and power density and an increase in the long term stability of the technologies are needed.

The Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center (E2TAC) addresses the needs of advanced energy and environmental applications by leveraging the intellectual power base and state-of-the-art infrastructure at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) and making use of its extensive capabilities in microelectronics and nanotechnology. In the E2TAC laboratory, we have been developing novel ionic liquid (IL) electrolytes with wide voltage window and testing them for ultracapacitor applications. Superior properties of ionic liquids such as extremely low vapor pressure, excellent thermal stability, a broad liquid temperature range, and high decomposition potential makes them a preferred choice as an electrolyte (over the traditional organic electrolyte) for batteries and ultracapacitors. Utilization of the ionic liquid will increase the energy and power density of the ultracapacitor, allowing it to provide more power for longer periods of time. Absence of measurable vapor pressure makes IL a "green" technology, as they cannot emit volatile organic compounds.

E2TAC has synthesized many novel ionic liquid based electrolytes with properties superior to the conventional electrolytes. Our electrolytes are stable up to high temperatures of 300-350oC, thus enhancing their usability range of temperature. Moreover, the conductivity and viscosity values are more favorable at high temperatures than at room temperatures. Oil and gas drilling equipment require ultracapacitors capable of withstanding very high temperature.

A typical ultracapacitor is a pouch comprising of two carbon electrodes separated by a thin sheet of plastic, and partially filled with electrolyte. Using a non-toxic IL electrolyte makes these ultracapacitors completely safe for disposal at the end of their lifetime into landfills, unlike batteries, which contain toxic metals that can alter our environment. Ultracapacitors are rechargeable for a million plus cyclesócompare that against rechargeable batteries, which begin to deteriorate after a few thousand cycles, and you begin to see the clear advantages of this renewable technology. In laboratory studies, E2TAC's IL electrolyte-based ultracapacitors performed c.a. 10% better than the commercial electrolyte-based ultracapacitors. E2TAC is working to make this and many other renewable technologies more efficient, more environmentally safe, and more cost effective for the consumer market. Please see www.e2tac.org for more information on all our research areas.

Please note column contributors also include, CNSE's E2TAC Materials Scientist Dr. Manisha Rane-Fondacaro and CNSE's E2TAC Business Development Manager Emily Riley.

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