Your phone died. Again. In these scenarios, who among us has not dreamed the dream of a future where our devices charge instantly and last forever. As capacitors—or even more exciting, ultracapacitors—get better and better at storing energy, they could replace batteries and realize at least one half of that dream.
California wants better batteries, which is why the electric company Southern California Edison is planning a set of, let's say, unconventional energy storage solutions, including huge 450-gallon ice packs. Why? It all has to do with a little-known problem with California's wind-reliant electric grid.
A team of South Korean scientists has developed a new graphene supercapacitor that can store almost as much energy as a lithium-ion battery, but charge in only 16 seconds. This makes it an ideal material to store braking energy and could be exactly what the electric car industry needs.
Imagine a future without batteries. But in the same future, your cell phone charges in minutes and stays charged for weeks. Thanks to the world's first silicon power cell, this future might not be so far away—and graphene is helping us get there.
Single-cell batteries have an inherent design limitation that prevents them from producing more than 4 volts—they simply can't do it, there isn't enough energy density to produce that extra bit of output. That is, until now.