New invention stores heat as electricity

Sweden Supercapacitors can become new type of energy storage.

A research team at Linköping University has developed a new type of energy storage, a "super capacitor", that can convert and store heat from sun rays as electricity. This may result in a new type of energy storage. The new super capacitor, ionic thermoelectric super-capacitor (ITESC), can produce electricity both from solar and waste heat, as long as a temperature gradient occurs between the two ends of the capacitor. Today you can either store heat from the sun in solar collectors or generate electricity in solar cells.

Simply put, a supercapacitor is a kind of energy storage, a type of battery that consists of an electrolyte of charged particles – ions – between two electrodes. After years of fruitless experiments, the research team at the Linköping University succeeded to produce an electrolyte with 100 times higher ability to convert heat to electricity than the electrolytes normally used.

“We still don’t know exactly why we’re getting this effect. But the fact is that we can convert and store 2,500 times more energy than the best of today's super-capacitors linked to thermoelectric generators,” says Professor Xavier Crispin.

The electrolyte contains only harmless, easy and cheap material that is stable and can be handled at room temperature. The research has so far resulted in two patents. It is hoped that it will lead to a completely new type of energy storage that can be mass-produced on an industrial scale.

The research results have been published in the scientific journal “Energy Environmental Science”.

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