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Maxwell Technologies to participate in EU ElectroGraph program to investigate use of graphene in supercapacitors; first industrial evaluation of graphene in ultracaps at device level

Maxwell Technologies, Inc.’s Swiss subsidiary will integrate and evaluate graphene-based electrode material for supercapacitors (ultracapacitors) produced through a European Union (EU)-funded technology development project entitled ElectroGraph. The three-year project has a projected cost of €4.94 million (US$6.64 million); EU project funding is €3.58 million (US$4.82 million).

Graphene is a novel carbon-based material that in laboratory testing has shown the potential to significantly increase both the energy density and power density of ultracapacitors. Maxwell Technologies SA will receive approximately €325,000 ($437,000) over three years for its part in a multi-party collaboration led by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany. The research has received funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Program (FP/2007-2013) under grant agreement Nº266391.

For vehicle applications, it is desirable to have devices with high energy density, high power density, long cycle and shelf life, and low cost. Super-capacitors are considered one of the newest innovations in the field of electrical energy storage. In hybrid electric vehicle, super-capacitors can be coupled with fuel cells or batteries to deliver the high power needed during acceleration as well as to recover the available energy during regenerative braking. To design a super-capacitor for a specific application that requires high energy density or high power density or both, proper electrode materials and a suitable electrolyte are to be chosen.

The combination of graphene and graphene-based material as electrode materials, and the use of room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) may exhibit excellent performance in super-capacitors. Graphene based materials can be obtained by a bottom-up approach in a more controllable fashion. The enhanced capacitive behavior of this material may be obtained by the proper alignment of graphene sheets as well as the interconnected nanoscale channels. However, these studies are still at the primary stage, and further studies are necessary.

The ElectroGraph project follows a technology-driven approach. It is thus obvious that the development of both electrode materials as well as the electrolyte solutions is required in order to optimize the overall performance of the super-capacitor.

—ElectroGraph project description

Other partners in the ElectroGraph project include:

  • Centro Ricerche Fiat S.C.p.A.
  • Danubia NanoTech s.r.o. (Ltd.)
  • Institute of Occupational Medicine
  • Instituto Nacional del Carbon - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
  • The Université Paris Diderot–Paris 7
  • The University of Exeter
  • The University of Nottingham
  • Trinity College Dublin

Maxwell currently uses a formulation of activated and conductive carbons and other materials along with a proprietary, solvent-free, fabrication process to produce ultracapacitor electrodes for its line of ultracapacitor products.

Maxwell will lend its expertise in ultracapacitor fundamentals and technology development to gain insight into the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of using graphene as a commercial-scale electrode material. This will be the first industrial evaluation of this material at the device level. If it is successful, it will enable Maxwell to establish a leadership position in development of a new generation of high-performance ultracapacitor products.

—Michael Everett, Maxwell’s vice president and chief technology officer

Screen Shot 2011-11-30 at 8.14.35 PM
ElectroGraph work plan. Click to enlarge.

ElectroGraph. The ElectroGraph project’s target of development is the combination of graphene and graphene-based material as electrode materials and the use of room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) as an electrolyte. The project is divided into 12 work packages. The scientific and technical work of ElectroGraph project is divided into three main phases, accounting for 10 of the packages:

  1. To synthesize a range of graphene materials and to engineer graphene via multitude of post-treatment processing methods with an objective to develop material with specific and controllable properties for application as electrode material in energy storage devices.

  2. To investigate graphene and graphene containing materials and systems with concern of the health and environmental aspects.

  3. To develop materials, components and devices for demonstration to industry. This is targeting the demonstration of an ultracapacitor prototype device utilizing graphene-based electrodes.

During the Stuttgart Nanodays 2011 Conference at the end of September, Fraunhofer presented first results of the investigations on the electrochemical exfoliation of graphene with the use of ionic liquids at the poster session.

Comments

HarveyD

Interesting project to further advance super-caps performance. If their energy density could be increased 10x, super-caps could become a valuable alternative to batteries for EVs, alone or in a combo configuration.

Darius

PHEV or EREV definitely would be more attractive with supercap's power, thermal and cycling features. I think price (not weight) will be issue.

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