March 18, 2013
The Super Supercapacitor: A Battery That (Almost) Lasts Forever
What do you think the chances are that you would actually win the lottery? Now, consider the chances of you randomly picking up a lottery ticket while you’re walking down the street. Let’s take it even one step further and say that this lottery ticket would revolutionize how we as humans are able to utilize and store energy. That is exactly what happened to Maher El-Kady.
While exploring an easier way of extracting graphene, a substance made of pure carbon that has electrical properties that have not ever been seen, El-Kady stumbled upon a very interesting sight. He hooked up a small light bulb with a small strip of graphene and found that the light bulb turned off after five minutes. It was at this moment that he realized he had stumbled upon something revolutionary.
Let’s take a look at how revolutionary this really is by examining how capacitors work and what they are actually used for in the world today. First off, a capacitor is sort of like a battery. It is a storage container that takes in energy and can be used later. We all know the problems of a battery though; they don’t last forever because they lose energy over time. The good properties about a battery are they are portable and can store massive amounts of energy that can be slowly released over time. A capacitor has the exact opposite properties of a battery: it is able to quickly store energy but not very much of it. Batteries are commonly used today but capacitors are just as common if you know where to look. Take some time to like of where capacitor may be used. Think of something where you need a small bit of charge in case something shorts so that it has back up power in case of emergencies. The most common thing you may think of is a sound system in your car. These are usually large capacitors because of the amount of energy that is being produced by your sound system. Batteries, as we know, are used in many different electronics today and are very useful for a short period of time.
Now, let’s take the properties of both batteries and capacitors and combine their best properties into one single entity. The small light bulb that stayed on for five minutes, although it may not seem amazing, is revolutionary because of the amount of energy that could be stored in such a small amount of material. Consider some of the things that could be revolutionized by a battery that could be easily charged and almost never lose that charge. Cars would be able to run on electricity hours longer than those that already exist. You’re cell phone would be able to charge up in seconds and would last hours longer than today’s standards. The possibilities of this new form of gathering, storing, and releasing energy could spring the world into a whole new age of technology that could have never been reached. The world may see the first battery that may, almost, last forever.
Image Credit: Photos.com