Study solves energy storage puzzle

Thursday, 04 November, 2021

Study solves energy storage puzzle

Curtin University researchers have developed a method to determine which chemicals and types of metals are best to store and supply energy.

The development is relevant for any battery-run devices and technologies reliant on the fast and reliable supply of electricity, including smart phones, and could greatly benefit scientists, engineers and start-ups looking to solve the energy storage challenges of the future, according to lead author and Associate Professor Simone Ciampi from Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences.

“All electronic devices require an energy source. While a battery needs to be recharged over time, a capacitor can be charged instantaneously because it stores energy by separating charged ions, found in ionic liquids. There are thousands of types of ionic liquids, a type of ‘liquid salt’, and until now, it was difficult to know which would be best suited for use in a capacitor,” Associate Professor Ciampi said.

“What our team has done is devise a quick and easy test, able to be performed in a basic lab, which can measure both the ability to store charge when a solid electrode touches a given ionic liquid — a simple capacitor — as well as the stability of the device when it’s charged.”

The research has also led to development of a model that can predict which ionic liquid will likely be the best performing for fast charging and long-lasting energy storage, Associate Professor Ciampi said.

Research co-author and PhD student Mattia Belotti, also from Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, said the test simply required a relatively basic and affordable piece of equipment, called a potentiostat.

“The simplicity of this test means anyone can apply it without the need for expensive equipment. Using this method, our research found that charging the device for 60 seconds produced a full charge, which did not ‘leak’ and begin to diminish for at least four days,” Belotti said.

“The next step will be to use this new screening method to find ionic liquid/electrode combinations with an even longer duration in the charged state and larger energy density.”

Funded by the Australian Research Council, the study was led by Curtin University and done in collaboration with the Australian National University and Monash University. The findings have been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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