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New carbon material shows promise of storing large quantities of renewable electrical energy
Date:9/16/2008

aphene material has already rivaled the values available in existing ultracapacitors, and modeling suggests the possibility of doubling the capacity.

"Our interest derives from the exceptional properties of these atom-thick and electrically conductive graphene sheets, because in principle all of the surface of this new carbon material can be in contact with the electrolyte," says Ruoff, who holds the Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering #7. "Graphene's surface area of 2630 m2/gram (almost the area of a football field in about 1/500th of a pound of material) means that a greater number of positive or negative ions in the electrolyte can form a layer on the graphene sheets resulting in exceptional levels of stored charge."

The U.S. Department of Energy has said that an improved method for storage of electrical energy is one of the main challenges preventing the substantial installation of renewable energies such as wind and solar power. Storage is vital for times when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine. During those times, the stored electrical energy can be delivered through the electrical grid as needed.

Ruoff's team includes graduate student Meryl Stoller and post-doctoral fellows Sungjin Park, Yanwu Zhu, and Jinho An, all from the Mechanical Engineering Department and the Texas Materials Institute at the university. Their findings will be published in the Oct. 8 edition of Nano Letters. The article was posted on the journal's Web site this week.

This technology, Stoller says, has the promise of significantly improving the efficiency and performance of electric and hybrid cars, buses, trains and trams. Even everyday devices such as office copiers and cell phones benefit from the improved power delivery and long lifetimes of ultracapacitors.

Ruoff says significant implementation of wind farms for generation of electricity is occurring throughout the world and the United States, with Texas and Ca
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Contact: Rod Ruoff
r.ruoff@mail.utexas.edu
512-471-4691
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert

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