In the future, energy storage could be as important as style when shopping for clothes. Photo credit: Oxfordian World
What’s the best place to store electricity? Many solutions are being suggested, from household fuel cell energy storage units to your electric vehicle’s lithium-ion battery. But a fascinating article in Nanowerk explores the idea that we’ll one day be powering our wearable electronics with electricity generated and stored in the clothes on our back.
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Dan Li’s team is researching graphene supercapacitors. Photo credit: Monash University
Monash University researchers have brought next generation energy storage closer with an engineering first: a graphene-based device that is compact yet lasts as long as a conventional battery.
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A criticism often leveled at the energy storage sector is that its solutions aren’t modular, aren’t scalable and are not vertically integrated with the rest of the value chain. Our industry is not deaf to these clarion calls. And neither, it appears, are its potential suppliers. Take Durham Graphite Science (DGS).
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Maxwell Technologies has joined up with Soitec for a project to demonstrate the benefits of combining the former’s ultracapacitor energy storage with the latter’s concentrated solar technology, reports NewNet. The project, which has already started, is being bankrolled by a USD$1.39m contract from the California Energy Commission’s Research and Development programme, and will run until November 2015.
Siemens is currently installing its first Sitras Energy Storage (SES) unit with supercapacitor technology in the US, on the TriMet Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Line.
The southeast Portland Tacoma substation location will house the first US storage unit that allows for energy created during braking to be stored and then re-used in one of two forms, energy savings or voltage stabilisation during peak demand times, says Siemens.
TriMet will use the system in voltage stabilisation mode to avoid problems that have led to disruptions in mass-transit operations. If a number of vehicles accelerate simultaneously, system voltage can drop below a critical level and result in instances of under-voltage tripping in vehicles and, consequently, disruptions in passenger service.
The SES ensures the system voltage always remains within the required range and voltage-related disruptions no longer occur.
Shanghai ISSON Power Quality has installed 126 125V Heavy Transportation Modules from Maxwell Technologies at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port, the developer and manufacturer of ultracapacitor-based energy storage products said this week. The modules are used in a power system that operates 26 ship-to-shore cranes for loading and unloading container ships within the national-grade super harbor.
The ultracapacitor installation, one of the largest in the world and the biggest in Asia, stabilises voltage and smoothes the fluctuation of the power output for the electric cranes, allowing for uninterrupted operations.
A new process for growing forests of manganese dioxide nano-rods may lead to the next generation of high-performance capacitors, according to researchers at Michigan Technological University. Dennis Desheng Meng’s research group has developed a technique to grow manganese dioxide nano-rods that minimises internal resistance, allowing the capacitor to charge and discharge repeatedly without wearing out.
Even after Meng’s group recharged its capacitor more than 2,000 times, it was still able to regain over 90% of its original charge.
Supercapacitors (or if that’s not hyperbolic enough for you, ultracapacitors) have found a niche providing a lot of power for very short periods of time. They can be used to smooth over voltage dips and sags and boost battery lifetime by taking the strain when electric vehicles such as forklifts and micro-hybrids need a quick jolt of energy, as Ioxus founder Chad Hall pointed out in a recent interview for ThomasNet.
Ruthenium oxide is the material widely used for supercapacitor electrodes and, as explained in a blog for RSC Advances, improvements in the current technology are being investigated worldwide.
Examples given include nano-structured ruthenium oxide in an aqueous hybrid supercapacitor, with a specific energy comparable to modern rechargeable batteries, and nano-tubes with ruthenium oxide producing a ternary electrode material to increase the specific capacitance by 103%, with enhanced rate capability and what the report describes as “excellent electrochemical stability”.