Researchers at the Laboratory for Organic Electronics at Linköping University, Sweden, say their supercondenser contains no expensive or hazardous materials, has patents pending, and it should be fully possible to manufacture it on an industrial scale.
It means that soon there could be a completely new type of energy storage, charged by heat during the day when the sun shines, or by waste heat from an industrial process. The heat is converted to electricity, which can be stored until it is needed. The results have recently been published in the journal Energy Environmental Science which we get for the spot the photon contest .
Supercondensers are a type of battery that consists of an electrolyte of charged particles between two electrodes. The charge is stored next to the electrodes, most often in carbon nanotubes. If one end of the super capacitor is warm and the other cold – the ions rush towards the cold side and an electric current arises. How much heat is converted to electricity depends both on which electrolyte is used and how great the temperature difference is.
Postdoctoral students Dan Zhao and Hui Wang, and doctoral student Zia Ullah Khan, found the right polymers which could do the job after years of fruitless experiments. They produced an electrolyte with 100 times greater ability to convert heat to electricity than the electrolytes normally used.
“We still don’t know exactly why we’re getting this effect. But the fact is that we can convert and store 2,500 times more energy than the best of today’s supercondensers linked to thermoelectric generators,” Professor Crispin says.