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Supercapacitor promises end to batteries

Supercapacitor promises end to batteries

The work carried out at Imperial College London holds the key to devices powered by their own casings.

While it may seem that every week brings a new 'next big thing' in the world of batteries, this latest development in the world of portable power should have heads turning nonetheless.

As reported over on HotHardware, researchers at Imperial College London - in partnership with boffins at Volvo, interested in creating hybrid electric cars with better ranges - have come up with a plastic capable of storing a charge in much the same way as a traditional battery.

The so-called 'plastic supercapacitor' is an impressive leap forward in the concept of power storage, allowing the actual casing of a device to provide the power it requires to run. In the case of cars, this means non-structural elements such as the bumpers and interior spaces could provide additional power for increased range; in portable devices, the actual case itself could store the energy required to make the device work.

The technology could be used in portable gadgets in two ways: certainly at first it's likely to be as an additional power source, helping to make a more traditional Lithium-Ion or Lithium-Polymer battery last that little bit longer; once the technology has been sufficiently improved, however, it's possible that the battery can be dispensed of entirely - paving the way for thinner, lighter portable devices.

It's good news from a green perspective, too: requiring fewer harmful chemicals during its manufacture, the plastic supercapacitor concept represents much less of an environmental concern when it comes time to dispose of your once-beloved gadget.

Project co-ordinator Dr. Emile Greenhaigh admits that "we’re at the first stage of this project and there is a long way to go," but envisions a future where "you might have a mobile phone that is as thin as a credit card because it no longer needs a bulky battery, or a laptop that can draw energy from its casing so it can run for a longer time without recharging." Sadly, the project is at too early a stage to offer even a guesstimate of when it'll be ready for commercial exploitation.

Are you excited at the thought of finally ditching the bulky battery, or is it the idea that week-long laptop power might finally be a reality that has you salivating? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

17 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
liratheal 8th February 2010, 11:11 Quote
Using the XKCD theory, this will be canned in six months, or not heard from again for the next decade.
proxess 8th February 2010, 11:21 Quote
What if your feet are touching the floor, won't you get a shock?! Holding these devices won't shock you?!
Nexxo 8th February 2010, 11:23 Quote
Energy density numbers, please? Otherwise I know this Nigerian businessman who has an interesting proposition for you...
null_x86 8th February 2010, 11:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Energy density numbers, please? Otherwise I know this Nigerian businessman who has an interesting proposition for you...

This... Until I can see some numbers, its just a good-looking concept/rumor as far as im concerned...
dec 8th February 2010, 11:26 Quote
@proxess- i was thinking the same thing but id imagine anyone making their products with the stuff will make sure it has a insulative coating on the exterior.

If only you can make solar panels (that are as thin as this could be) and this come together your laptop could charge itself and store the electricity in its case.

Any numbers for this thing?
ch424 8th February 2010, 11:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Energy density numbers, please? Otherwise I know this Nigerian businessman who has an interesting proposition for you...

http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=162506
Xir 8th February 2010, 12:52 Quote
Call me when they've got it market-ready at the dame energy density than "normal" Li-Ion batteries. Till then there's no use in speculating how great this COULD be.

Remember the phone charger that can charge off transmissions? shame it doesn't even cover the standby power.
dogknees 8th February 2010, 13:06 Quote
I think it would be safe to touch, etc. If it's a capacitor then both "plates" or whatever acts as such could be insulated from the outside world. What concerns me is what happens if the case is pierced by something metallic. Great big short-circuit would be my first guess.

Even many batteries explode when shorted. They can dump so much current that the heat melts or sets them on fire. Sometimes really impressive fires!!

I guess they could use some of the space they've saved for some light armour. Kevlar covered devices, cool!
Stuey 8th February 2010, 13:50 Quote
They said the same thing a few years ago about power tool batteries. Guess, what, I'm still waiting. They came out with a screwdriver powered by a super-cap, and initial interest was high. Then it all crashed down.
Quote:
Project co-ordinator Dr. Emile Greenhaigh admits that "we’re at the first stage of this project and there is a long way to go," but envisions a future where "you might have a mobile phone that is as thin as a credit card because it no longer needs a bulky battery, or a laptop that can draw energy from its casing so it can run for a longer time without recharging." Sadly, the project is at too early a stage to offer even a guesstimate of when it'll be ready for commercial exploitation.

Are you excited at the thought of finally ditching the bulky battery, or is it the idea that week-long laptop power might finally be a reality that has you salivating?

I agree with Nexxo, what are the energy densities for these new materials? Overall storage capacity? Charging times/frequency?

A paper-thin cell phone is a novel idea, but won't be of much use if it must be recharged every 90 minutes.
Chocobollz 8th February 2010, 15:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
Using the XKCD theory, this will be canned in six months, or not heard from again for the next decade.

XKCD? Maybe you mean... SSDD (Same **** Different Day)? :p
HourBeforeDawn 8th February 2010, 16:30 Quote
Well this has great potential as long it doesnt get canned by some big wig worried about losing out on some current techs kickbacks ~_~
wuyanxu 8th February 2010, 17:42 Quote
super capacitors will NEVER end the need for battery, because i had been working with a couple as large as 1F and they don't store enough charges for even a very well power managed microcontroller for 1 hour. (well power managed because i programed it :P )

ultra-capacitor on the other hand..... my friend was involved in another project, tried to replace battery used in MoD's standard issue radio with ultra-caps. final product: 24 hours talk time with normal 2xAA battery ends up to be 1.5 hour with four 100F 5v ultra-caps.


on the issue whether it's safe to touch, of course it's safe, we are talking about electronics, not electrical high voltage. super-caps usually comes in 2.5v or 5v, and doesn't discharge as fast as a good ceramic capacitor.
Farfalho 8th February 2010, 18:27 Quote
Sounds interesting and looking forward, let's see it is viable and doesn't suffer from lobbies.
knuck 8th February 2010, 19:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocobollz
XKCD? Maybe you mean... SSDD (Same **** Different Day)? :p

never bitch xkcd on a tech forum, this is blasphemy

I don't see how it's always the same everyday... I actually think it's the complete opposite
thehippoz 8th February 2010, 19:30 Quote
yeah like wu said.. I built a 1 farad capacitor for my trucks stereo system- ran a bunch in parallel

they are good for supplying steady power when the pull exceeds what the alternator can do- like during bass notes the amps pull a lot of power- during that time it will get what it needs from the capacitors and the caps recharge in between.. but they discharge very quickly- they don't hold a charge
Skiddywinks 8th February 2010, 23:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghys
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocobollz
XKCD? Maybe you mean... SSDD (Same **** Different Day)? :p

never bitch xkcd on a tech forum, this is blasphemy

I don't see how it's always the same everyday... I actually think it's the complete opposite

I'm thinking he means SSDD for new techs like this.

Although if he is slagging off xkcd I will kick his ass with you...
yougotkicked 9th February 2010, 00:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
Using the XKCD theory, this will be canned in six months, or not heard from again for the next decade.

actually, by XKCD logic this means they will be keeping the technology to themselves:
"we're not really looking at market applications yet." -----> "I like being the only one with a hovercar"
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