A revolutionary new supercapacitor has been created, capable of assuming the functions of a battery, manufacturable through 3D printing and biodegradable.
Supercapacitors are similar to capacitors, but they have a much greater ability to store electrical charge in a small space. Supercapacitors are ideal for applications in which it is necessary to store electrical energy in large quantities, as close as possible to that of a battery, but also to be able to release it quickly if required, as in a capacitor. Little by little, technological advances in the young field of supercapacitors are making some of them perfect substitutes for classic batteries.
Xavier Aeby’s team from the Cellulose and Wood Materials Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) has used a commercially available 3D printer, which he and his colleagues have modified, to use a series of unique gelatinous “inks” consisting essentially of nanofibers and other cellulose nanostructures, as well as carbon in several relatively common forms, including graphite. To liquefy all of this, the researchers use glycerin, water, and two different types of alcohol. Plus a pinch of table salt for ionic conductivity.
To build a functional supercapacitor from these ingredients, you need four layers, which come out of the 3D printer one after the other: a flexible substrate, a conductive layer, the electrode, and lastly, the electrolyte. The whole is then folded like a sandwich, with the electrolyte in the center.
The result is an amazing device.
Prototype of the new biodegradable supercapacitor. (Photo: Gian Vaitl / EMPA)
The small supercapacitor is capable of storing electricity for hours and can already power a small digital clock. It is capable of withstanding thousands of charge / discharge cycles and years of storage, even in sub-zero temperatures, and is resistant to pressure and shock.
Best of all, when it is no longer needed, just throw it away, without the need for recycling, or even abandon it in the wild. After two months, the condenser will have broken down, leaving only a few carbon particles visible. Researchers have already tested it.
Aeby and his colleagues expose the technical details of their achievement under the title “Fully 3D Printed and Disposable Paper Supercapacitors” in the academic journal Advanced Materials. (Source: NCYT from Amazings)