Ground-breaking research from the University of Surrey and Augmented Optics Ltd., in collaboration with the University of Bristol, has developed potentially transformational technology which could revolutionise the capabilities of appliances that have previously relied on battery power to work.
This development by Augmented Optics Ltd., could translate into very high energy density super-capacitors, making it possible to recharge your mobile phone, laptop or other mobile devices in just a few seconds.
This new technology could have a huge impact across many sectors, including transport, aerospace and energy generation. A little more tangibly for the general public is in household applications, such as mobile phones, and flat screen electronic devices.
It could also revolutionise electric cars, allowing the possibility for them to be recharged as quickly as it takes for a regular non-electric car to refuel with petrol – a process that currently takes approximately 6-8 hours to recharge.
Imagine, the new technology could allow the electric car to travel greatly extended distances without the need to recharge, and when it did recharge, for this operation to take just a few minutes to perform.
The University of Bristol says it is “proven to be between 1,000-10,000 times more powerful than the existing battery alternative”.
Supercapacitor buses are already being used in China, but they have a very limited range, whereas this technology could allow them to travel a lot further between recharges.
Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX, has previously stated his belief that supercapacitors are likely to be the technology for future electric air transportation. The new scientific advance could make that vision a reality.
The technology was adapted from the principles used to make soft contact lenses, which Dr Donald Highgate (of Augmented Optics, and an alumnus of the University of Surrey) developed following his postgraduate studies at Surrey 40 years ago.
Supercapacitors, an alternative power source to batteries, store energy using electrodes and electrolytes, and both charge and deliver energy quickly, unlike conventional batteries which do so in a much slower, more sustained way.
Supercapacitors have the ability to charge and discharge rapidly over very large numbers of cycles. However, because of their poor energy density per kilogramme (approximately just one twentieth of existing battery technology), they have, until now, been unable to compete with conventional battery energy storage in many applications.
Dr Brendan Howlin of the University of Surrey, explained: “There is a global search for new energy storage technology and this new ultra capacity supercapacitor has the potential to open the door to unimaginably exciting developments.”