A supercapacitor to match lead-acid

Dan Li's team has developed a graphene supercapacitor.
Dan Li's team has developed a graphene supercapacitor. Photo credit: Monash University
Dan Li's team has developed a graphene supercapacitor.

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.

A research team led by Professor Dan Li of the Department of Materials Engineering has developed a new strategy to engineer graphene-based supercapacitors, making them viable for use in energy storage, portable electronics and electric vehicles. Supercapacitors are generally made of highly porous carbon impregnated with a liquid electrolyte to transport the electrical charge.

Known for their almost indefinite lifespan and the ability to re-charge in seconds, the drawback of existing supercapacitors is their low energy density of five to eight Watt-hours per litre, which means they are unfeasibly large or must be re-charged frequently.

Professor Li’s team has created a supercapacitor with an energy density of 60 Watt-hours per litre, comparable to lead-acid batteries and around 12 times higher than commercially available supercapacitors. To create their material, the research team used a method similar to that used in traditional paper making, meaning the process could be easily and cost-effectively scaled up for industrial use.

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