Supercapacitors to the rescue

As Vanderbilt University create a structural supercapacitor energy storage device, we analyse developments in the supercapacitor industry.

As Vanderbilt University create a structural supercapacitor energy storage device, we analyse developments in the supercapacitor industry. Photo credit: Vanderbilt University

One of the most intriguing energy storage stories of last week was news of a solid-state supercapacitor so tough it could potentially be built into laptop casings, electric vehicle panels and even walls to become the basis of a structural energy storage device.The discovery, uncovered by a team from Vanderbilt University’s Nanomaterials and Energy Devices Laboratory, adds to near-daily reports of potential game-changing improvements to the technology.

So it seemed like a good time to take stock of supercapacitors (and ultracapacitors, but more of that later): what they are, what they can and can’t do in energy storage, how they can be improved, and what the future might hold for the sector.
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