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Team uses forest waste to develop cheaper, greener supercapacitors
Date:10/23/2013

ds are ideal for fast ion transport, Jiang said. The new study used red cedar, but several other woods such as maple and cherry also work well.

Expensive and corrosive chemicals are often used to prepare the activated carbon used in supercapacitors, giving the electrodes the physical and chemical properties they need to function well, Jiang said.

"The use of those chemicals will probably impose some environmental impacts," he said. "This should be avoided or at least substantially reduced."

Jiang and his team activated their biochar with mild nitric acid, which washed away the ash (calcium carbonate, potassium carbonate and other impurities) in the biochar. The byproduct of this process has a beneficial use, Jiang said: The resulting solution of nitrate compounds can be used as fertilizer.

These simple approaches dramatically cut the material and environmental costs of assembling supercapacitors.

"The material costs of producing wood-biochar supercapacitors are five to 10 times lower than those associated with activated carbon," Jiang said. And when a biochar supercapacitor has reached the end of its useful life, the electrodes can be crushed and used as an organic soil amendment that increases fertility.

"The performance of our biochar materials is comparable to the performance of today's advanced carbon materials, including carbon nanotubes and graphenes," Jiang said. "We can achieve comparable performance with much less cost and probably much lower environmental costs."


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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