ISTC is investigating wood-biochar’s use as a supercapacitor. The material offers equal power capabilities as activated carbon, but is much less expensive.
A team led by Senior Engineer Junhua Jiang published results in the journal Electrocimica Acta, demonstrating the natural microstructures of biochars can be provide effective surface area for electrodes. Currently supercapactitors are often manufactured with corrosive chemicals that create elaborate structures of out of activated carbon.
Such procedures are far more expensive and can have environmental consequences.
Supercapacitors are super because they have far greater surface area electrodes than regular capacitors, allowing the rapid collection and release of ions. Cousins of electrochemical batteries, supercapacitors do not yet store as much energy, but they can release energy very quickly, recharge quickly and have high cycling stability. In other words, supercapacitors permit much faster discharge and recharge cycles than a battery is capable of, as well as tolerance of a larger number of discharge/charge cycles.
The Illinois Hazardous Waste Research Fund and the HeteroFoaM Center (an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Research) supported this study.
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