While still in development, a new bendy graphene battery could one day replace existing battery technology.
Electric vehicles (EVs), phones and wearables could stand to benefit from a new battery concept developed between the UK and China. In a paper published to Nature Energy, researchers said they have developed a graphene electrode material with pores that could be changed in size to store the charge more efficiently.
However, unlike other battery concepts, this technology can bend to 180 degrees without affecting performance and doesn’t use a liquid electrolyte, minimising the risk of explosion. Furthermore, testing showed it achieved a record energy density of 88.1 watt-hours per litre (Wh/l), compared with similar fast-charging technology that achieves between five and eight Wh/l.
“Our new supercapacitor is extremely promising for next-generation energy storage technology as either a replacement for current battery technology, or for use alongside it, to provide the user with more power,” said the study’s first author, Dr Zhuangnan Li of University College London.
While the supercapacitor developed by the team has a comparable energy density to state-of-the-art value of lead-acid batteries, its power density is two orders of magnitude higher at more than 10,000 watts per litre.
The electrodes were made from multiple layers of graphene to create a dense, porous material capable of trapping charged ions of different sizes. Once optimised into a thin film, the supercapacitor achieved its record energy density. After 5,000 cycles of testing while being bent at 180 degrees, it retained a capacity of 97.8pc.
Senior author of the study, Prof Ivan Parkin, said: “Successfully storing a huge amount of energy safely in a compact system is a significant step towards improved energy storage technology.
“We have shown it charges quickly, we can control its output and it has excellent durability and flexibility, making it ideal for development for use in miniaturised electronics and EVs. Imagine needing only 10 minutes to fully charge your electric car or a couple of minutes for your phone and it lasting all day.”
Updated, 8.55am, 18 February 2020: A previous version of this article stated that the supercapacitor’s power density was more than 10,000 Wh/l. This figure was amended to 10,000 watts per litre.