Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > MIT researchers fired up about battery alternative

Abstract:
New nanotube-enhanced ultracapacitors could be made in any of the sizes currently available and be produced using conventional technology

MIT researchers fired up about battery alternative

Cambridge, MA | Posted on February 07, 2006

Just about everything that runs on batteries - flashlights, cell phones, electric cars, missile-guidance systems - would be improved with a better energy supply. But traditional batteries haven't progressed far beyond the basic design developed by Alessandro Volta in the 19th century.

Until now.

Work at MIT's Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems (LEES) holds out the promise of the first technologically significant and economically viable alternative to conventional batteries in more than 200 years.

Joel E. Schindall, the Bernard Gordon Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and associate director of the Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems; John G. Kassakian, EECS professor and director of LEES; and Ph.D. candidate Riccardo Signorelli are using nanotube structures to improve on an energy storage device called an ultracapacitor.

Capacitors store energy as an electrical field, making them more efficient than standard batteries, which get their energy from chemical reactions. Ultracapacitors are capacitor-based storage cells that provide quick, massive bursts of instant energy. They are sometimes used in fuel-cell vehicles to provide an extra burst for accelerating into traffic and climbing hills.

However, ultracapacitors need to be much larger than batteries to hold the same charge.

The LEES invention would increase the storage capacity of existing commercial ultracapacitors by storing electrical fields at the atomic level.

Although ultracapacitors have been around since the 1960s, they are relatively expensive and only recently began being manufactured in sufficient quantities to become cost-competitive. Today you can find ultracapacitors in a range of electronic devices, from computers to cars.

However, despite their inherent advantages - a 10-year-plus lifetime, indifference to temperature change, high immunity to shock and vibration and high charging and discharging efficiency - physical constraints on electrode surface area and spacing have limited ultracapacitors to an energy storage capacity around 25 times less than a similarly sized lithium-ion battery.

The LEES ultracapacitor has the capacity to overcome this energy limitation by using vertically aligned, single-wall carbon nanotubes - one thirty-thousandth the diameter of a human hair and 100,000 times as long as they are wide. How does it work? Storage capacity in an ultracapacitor is proportional to the surface area of the electrodes. Today's ultracapacitors use electrodes made of activated carbon, which is extremely porous and therefore has a very large surface area. However, the pores in the carbon are irregular in size and shape, which reduces efficiency. The vertically aligned nanotubes in the LEES ultracapacitor have a regular shape, and a size that is only several atomic diameters in width. The result is a significantly more effective surface area, which equates to significantly increased storage capacity.

The new nanotube-enhanced ultracapacitors could be made in any of the sizes currently available and be produced using conventional technology.

"This configuration has the potential to maintain and even improve the high performance characteristics of ultracapacitors while providing energy storage densities comparable to batteries," Schindall said. "Nanotube-enhanced ultracapacitors would combine the long life and high power characteristics of a commercial ultracapacitor with the higher energy storage density normally available only from a chemical battery."

This work was presented at the 15th International Seminar on Double Layer Capacitors and Hybrid Energy Storage Devices in Deerfield Beach, Fla., in December 2005.

The work has been funded in part by the MIT/Industry Consortium on Advanced Automotive Electrical/Electronic Components and Systems and in part by a grant from the Ford-MIT Alliance.

####
Contact:
Elizabeth A. Thomson
MIT News Office
617-258-5402
thomson@mit.edu

Copyright MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Possible Futures

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

A new approach to ultrafast light pulses: Unusual fluorescent materials could be used for rapid light-based communications systems September 19th, 2017

Hydrogen power moves a step closer: Physicists are developing methods of creating renewable fuel from water using quantum technology September 15th, 2017

New insights into nanocrystal growth in liquid: Understanding process that creates complex crystals important for energy applications September 14th, 2017

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

How to draw electricity from the bloodstream: A one-dimensional fluidic nanogenerator with a high power-conversion efficiency September 11th, 2017

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors August 20th, 2017

Regulation of two-dimensional nanomaterials: New driving force for lithium-ion batteries July 26th, 2017

Killing cancer in the heat of the moment: A new method efficiently transfers genes into cells, then activates them with light. This could lead to gene therapies for cancers July 9th, 2017

Materials/Metamaterials

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices September 18th, 2017

New insights into nanocrystal growth in liquid: Understanding process that creates complex crystals important for energy applications September 14th, 2017

Corrosion in real time: UCSB researchers get a nanoscale glimpse of crevice and pitting corrosion as it happens September 14th, 2017

Graphene based terahertz absorbers: Printable graphene inks enable ultrafast lasers in the terahertz range September 13th, 2017

Announcements

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

A new approach to ultrafast light pulses: Unusual fluorescent materials could be used for rapid light-based communications systems September 19th, 2017

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices September 18th, 2017

Do titanium dioxide particles from orthopedic implants disrupt bone repair? September 16th, 2017

Energy

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

Insect eyes inspire new solar cell design from Stanford August 31st, 2017

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Freeze-dried foam soaks up carbon dioxide: Rice University scientists lead effort to make novel 3-D material August 16th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project