Researchers have found a new way to improve energy storage, which could be used to expand the technology of fast-charging electricity.
Traditional batteries store a relatively large volume of energy but take a long time to charge and can only tolerate a certain amount of charging before losing performance.
Supercapacitors, a related technology, can charge very quickly, with many more cycles, but have poor energy storage volumes.
So far, supercapacitors have been unable to compete with batteries because of their inability to store energy.
However, researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Imperial College London and the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology have performed simulations and experiments to show that special electrode materials could be precisely engineered to produce supercapacitors that charge quickly and store more energy.
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) can be used to build 3D conducting scaffolds with abundant small holes which, the pores in the MOFs can store a huge number of ions, which means they have the potential to make supercapacitors that store more energy per weight or volume.
This technology is currently used for rapid energy exchange, such as regenerative braking in cars, where the energy of braking is temporarily stored and used to help power the car forward.
However, this technology could be used to elevate the amount of energy stored, leading to the expanding use of fast charging supercapacitors instead of batteries.
Co-author of the study Prof Alexei Kornyshev, from the department of chemistry at Imperial, said: Current technologies are limited by either having large energy storage or fast charging.
Our modelling approach provides us with an opportunity to simulate the performance of MOF electrodes with high precision, which enables further rational design of such electrodes.
Our work shows that the use of MOFs as electrodes can provide exceptional performance, balancing energy storage and power delivery in supercapacitors.
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