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New supercapacitor technology could bring an end to our battery charging woes

 
Image: University of Central Florida

Technological advances have made it possible to do amazing things like order a pizza from your smart watch, but there's one problem holding much of consumer tech back: battery life. Despite the computing leaps we've made forward, batteries are still a major limitation for pretty much all mobile devices and a lot of photographic equipment. However, a team of scientists at the University of Central Florida’s NanoScience Technology Center may have taken a step toward ending our collective nightmare. 

The research team has developed a process for creating flexible supercapacitors that can store more energy and be charged faster than current battery technology. The concept also allows for recharging more than 30,000 times without degradation.

“If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,” said team member Nitin Choudhary. 

Unlike batteries, which use chemical reactions, supercapacitors store electricity statically on the surface of a material which means they can be charged quicker. Previous research projects used graphene for this purpose, but with limited success. The team at UCF has instead been experimenting with newly discovered two-dimensional metal materials that are only a few atoms thick. The newly developed supercapacitors consist of millions of highly-conductive nanowires that are wrapped with those materials. As a result, electrons can pass quickly from the core to the shell and high energy and power densities are produced.

“There have been problems in the way people incorporate these two-dimensional materials into the existing systems – that’s been a bottleneck in the field. We developed a simple chemical synthesis approach so we can very nicely integrate the existing materials with the two-dimensional materials,” said principal investigator Yeonwoong “Eric” Jung.

At this stage the technology is only a proof of concept and not ready for commercialization. However, the team is in the process of patenting the method and, if developed further, could power the mobile devices, compact cameras and electric vehicles of the future. 

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Mike921

Could, should, maybe, perhaps, someday, promising, hopeful, Kickstarter, VC, blah-blah-blah-blah....

Nov 30, 2016
EwanMC

New lithium-air battery, Sodium-ion battery and Lithium Metal battery developments are all promising about half the weight for double the power.

http://static.highsnobiety.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/19210142/Lithium-Battery-1-960x640.jpg

And don't forget fuel cells:
there is a Toyota fuel cell car that you can buy now with 300 mile range.

http://www.caranddriver.com/toyota/mirai

Nov 28, 2016*
Michael B 66

10Wh battery for smart phone = 36000 Joule energy (1 day)
70Wh capacitor: roughly 250000 Joule (as proposed in article for 7 day power)

Recharge in a few seconds: Let's say 5 seconds - you need a 50 kW power supply to do that. At 10% loss you have 5kW heat. What does it mean?

Charging: 50 small cooking plates at the same moment
Heat: 5 small cooking plates heating the smart phone for 5 seconds - it will glow!

DavidfotosDotComs Idea to load a spare cap and replace it is the better idea!

Nov 27, 2016
quiquae

I agree, the article claim is such a naked hyperbole that I was tempted to hit the close button right there.

However, if you downgrade the claim to a 10Wh smartphone battery recharged in 6 minutes, then you only need 100W, which is actually within the range of the possible (100W happens to be the upper limit for power delivery over USB-C cables). The heat output is nontrivial--forget charging your phone from a portable battery in your purse at anything resembling six minutes--but not unmanageable. And a complete recharge in 6 minutes is still a huge step up over what we have today.

That said, this technology is immature enough that it has a very good chance of never being heard from again outside of technical journals and VC community; and even if it does succeed, it'll be close to a decade before it shows up in consumer devices.

Nov 28, 2016
Toh

In addition, to deliver 50kw of power at 5v (assumption) you would need cable and connectors that can withstand current up to 10,000 amps.

Nov 29, 2016
Carl Mucks

After charging, smash it with a hammer for unforgettable fireworks.

Nov 30, 2016
DavidsfotosDotCom
DavidsfotosDotCom

ca·pac·i·tor = (can substitute for a battery?)
kəˈpasədər/
noun
a device used to store an electric charge, consisting of one or more pairs of conductors separated by an insulator.

Nov 27, 2016
DavidsfotosDotCom
DavidsfotosDotCom

? Can the capacitor just replace the battery & side step the fast charging heat & power problems? Get 2 or more capacitors & simply swap out till you get to a charging station!

Nov 26, 2016
sharkcookie
sharkcookie

Every week some scientists claim to have been making a breakthrough energy storage technology. Interestingly it is never ready for commercial use and no sample of the product is available.

Nov 26, 2016
Thematic
Thematic

You have a good point.

It's hilarious looking at old issue of time Magazine and other publications I have lying around from decades ago. The claims are extraordinary and everything is "coming very soon".... But obviously it never works out that way.

Science and patents and production isn't easy.

Nov 26, 2016
Joseph S Wisniewski

My dad has a complete collection of Popular Science going back to the 40s. How wrong some of those predictions were is fascinating...

Nov 27, 2016
Vlad S

Scientists work on the new energy technologies all the time, but the lab environment is more forgiving than the real world, so much of that tech does not survive once it's released into the wild. Nevertheless, progress is still being made: the NiMH rechargeable batteries were a huge improvement over the Ni–Cd, and the Li–ion batteries were another huge improvement on those; even the Li ion batteries themselves have seen a huge improvement in their useable life during the last 5 years or so.

Nov 27, 2016
Slouch Hooligan
Slouch Hooligan

I recall a Star Trek episode wherein Kirk and Spock are pinned down by enemy fire. They use their phaser batteries as hand grenades.
High energy density has its uses, and hazards.

Nov 26, 2016
Biowizard
Biowizard

It's called the SAMSUNG effect ...

Nov 27, 2016
wetsleet

Never mind the storage medium, let's just call it B. To get a week's worth of mobile power transferred from A to B in a matter of seconds is going to need either very high voltages (hence with the kind of isolation you see in high voltage installations) or very high currents, which means very fat wires. Actually, cables would be a better word. Or superconducting wires, yes, that would do it also.

And as others have mentioned, if you've ever shorted out a large capacitor, you know what can happen. The Note 7 will seem like popping candy in comparison.

So no shortage of obstacles to overcome. I just don't get why they keep promising the idea of charging "in seconds" however, it's just promising disappointment. The rest of it, yeah, great stuff!

Nov 26, 2016
dr.noise
dr.noise

I don't mind if charging in seconds will actually be charging in minutes or even two hours. It will be still much less charging overall.

Nov 26, 2016
joelbedford

Interesting. Wetsleet, what kind of new battery tech do you see as the most promising / viable for the near future?

Nov 26, 2016
Scottelly
Scottelly

Actually, if we use something faster than a USB 2 port to charge our phones, which we could easily do, the charging times could be reduced dramatically. The only reason they use today's micro-USB 2 ports is because they don't want to damage the battery, so they don't want to charge it too fast. I predict a new type of port in the future, which will be capable of transferring electric power much faster (at least 10 times faster). Already the USB 3 standard has a higher power flow. Maybe USB 4 will have twice that . . . or maybe the power levels will increase dramatically, controlled by the device that is plugged into the charger/computer. Large computers have 85 watt charging devices, which require a much larger power "block" (adapter). That is WAY more power than USB 2 or USB 3. Currently it looks like 1.5 amps with 5 volts is the limit, but if a new type of plug, similar to an Apple Lightning plug is developed, who knows what is possible? I predict 5 amps and 12 volts at least.

Nov 26, 2016
wetsleet

@joelbedford - I answered your question already, in the last sentence of my post.
@dr.noise - agree 100%
@Scottelly - 12v x 5amps won't deliver a week's worth of power "in a few seconds"

Nov 26, 2016*
Rich the stitch

A new charger could be developed incorporating a capacitor. This could charge the portable capacitor battery rapidly if the connecting wires were thick enough.

For those speculating about the heat, capacitors don't have internal resistance like batteries do, so they don't heat up when charging and discharging.

Portable device designers find themselves very challenged by battery life and capacity. I suspect if this technology makes it to the real world, we will end up with more features in our devices and not receive all the battery life improvements.

Dec 5, 2016
wetsleet

It's like you say, IF the connecting wires are thick enough. When they cry that there is not even enough spare space to accommodate a headphone socket, squeezing in a couple of car jump leads is going to be problematic.

Dec 5, 2016
BigBen08

Let me know when it's ready to buy.

Nov 26, 2016
madeinlisboa
madeinlisboa

If this can be applied to cars, the petrol lobby will never allow it to see the light...

Nov 25, 2016
Scottelly
Scottelly

Well, they still haven't killed electric cars yet. This year there are more electric cars selling than ever before, and the price of gasoline has been ridiculously low for more than two years now. On top of that, Tesla has more than 300,000 pre-orders for their model 3 car, which won't even start delivery for another year. We now have a lot of different electric car models to choose from too.

http://insideevs.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/111-3.png

http://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

Nov 26, 2016
c45

And all those "electric cars" are being recharged by electricity produced from coal, hydro or nuclear plants.

Nov 27, 2016
Semperfed

And some solar and wind energy too, C45....

Nov 28, 2016
Fujica
Fujica

"At this stage the technology is only a proof of concept and not ready for commercialization. "

But then the question is how long would it take from concept to reality.

1 - 5 - 10 years from now or even longer?
Some of these inventions never come to reality at all.

Although this one could have a very fast acceptance rate imho.

Nov 25, 2016
Koolblue2

Supercapacitor technology is not new. However current suoercapacitors remain too large for use in cameras. This technology substantially reduces the size of supercapcitors to a useful size for smaller equipment

Nov 25, 2016
Turbguy1
Turbguy1

A great possibility.

And if a defect occurs in this type of energy storage? There's nowhere for the energy to go but BOOM! The materials involved (I don't care what they use) will turn into a plasma...

Nov 25, 2016*
EwanMC

People get a grip, this is breakthrough in super capacitor tech is from the University of Central Florida in the US of A, not some Borat University of Kazakhstan ... this might be why DPreview takes it seriously ... seriously people. 🤦

Nov 25, 2016
Fujica
Fujica

PUKE
- Space shuttle another American invention...
Fell apart twice at the cost of several lives and was a big blow to your American reputation.

- The Nuclear bomb another 'great' invention. Only to be used by the US. Costed several hundred of thousands of lives.

- Cluster and napalm bombs only to be used by the Americans in several wars after WWII - All those wars after WWII have been lost by the US and made the world we live in today even more dangerous.

- 1 in 100 people stay in prison - Only in America

- Amongst all free democracies the US has the highest poverty rate.

The only reason you Americans are not seen as a 'great' nation is due to your lust for wars, not for peace.

Don't think you are better then the rest of the world.
YOU ARE NOT!

Nov 25, 2016*
Everlast66

Keeping in mind that US universities invented Safe Spaces, where these bright students go to hug therapy dogs and cry when they feel overwhelmed by overhearing some politically incorrect conversation, and still can't get over the election results, I'm not holding my breath for this technology yet.
And Ewan is laughing at the only country on the planet that currently can send humans into space?!?

Nov 25, 2016
EwanMC

BLYAD
-The atomic bomb saved lives on both sides by preventing a murderous land invasion of Japan.

-Space Shuttle ... meh! Going to the moon A+++

-Cluster and napalm bombs not very high tech and can be used by everyone.

-Really? More poverty than India?

-Trump will make America great again!

-1 in 100 people at least will be warm -- winter is coming.

Nov 25, 2016
Everlast66

Ewan, before you get too far ahead of yourself praising US universities, did you actually look at the team that published the paper:

Nitin Choudhary
Chao Li
Hee-Suk Chung
Julian Moore
Jayan Thomas
Yeonwoong Jung
University of Central Florida AND
Korea Basic Science Institute, South Korea

Hmm, this sounds to me a bit more like a South Korean paper than an American one, hmm ...

Nov 26, 2016
Daniel L

EwanMC
The only great thing ever came out of Trump presidency would be your naked porn star First Lady. Now you tell all the ladies in trouble. It's ok to work the pole and collect dollar for a living,. They too, can be FLOTUS, just marry some silly ole man with really small hands.

Nov 26, 2016
Timur Born
Timur Born

It's not like they didn't know how to bomb 100k people into a burning death before dropping atomic bombs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Tokyo

But the psychological effect of achieving the same goal with only *one* bomb instead of hundreds and thousands likely was more profound.

Watch: The fog of War.

Nov 26, 2016*
joelbedford

Because Florida is reknowned for its brilliant scientists and educational institutions, guys. 😂

Nov 26, 2016
c45

Fujica,
Just consider what the world would look like if Hitler, Stalin or Japan got the atom bomb first.

Nov 27, 2016
Fujica
Fujica

@C45 - Yeah just as worse as Trump becoming your new President.

A very explosive situation is in the making and it shows your democracy (ahum a two party system with indirect influence) doesn't work. Yes Trump is a maniac that has the exact same ideas about race and equality as Hitler. Trump is somebody who got embraced by the KKK. That is not something to be proud about.

So don't halleluja your future.
The world is heading into the exact same direction as a near 100 years ago with all this upcomming populism. Superiority in race, gender or origin does NOT exist. Eventhough it seems that your new president thinks you can humiliate women and people from spanish origin and that you can point all of your economic problems to different groups of people or to other countries.

Trump is not going to change the US for the better, but for the worse. He is not going to make America 'great' again, but he going to make Americans more hated over the world.

Nov 28, 2016*
c45

Fujica,
I will evaluate Trump's presidency as it unfold, as should you.
Meantime, find some "safe space" and pet your therapy dog; also,
cut back on coffee!!!

Nov 28, 2016
HakanL

Some lithium-ion batteries in phones and laptops catch fire by themselves. Let's hope this much more powerful technology, whatever it will be called (nanotube batteries?) won't give us phones that blow up.

Nov 24, 2016
EwanMC

Unless you want to blow yourself up for some reason? 😋

Nov 24, 2016
Greg VdB

Hey friends, I found a revolutionary way to charge all of my batteries to 1000% of their normal capacity in under 4 seconds! There's no need to upgrade your power grid connections or anything like that - just wire me 500$ and I'll send you a piece of unicorn horn with instruction of how to proceed. Happy days!

Nov 24, 2016
EwanMC

False, you should use endangered rhino horn. 😝

Nov 24, 2016
Greg VdB

Actually I feed rhino horn to my unicorns (in homeopathic solutions obviously) to boost their metaphysical energy levels. Tried the other way around too but it was 5% less effective.

Nov 25, 2016
Everlast66

I know a way to charge your phone in under 4 seconds with 1000 times more energy that the battery capacity - it's called C4 - sticks very nicely to the back of the phone.

Nov 25, 2016*
Frank C.

not for tomorrow folks

Nov 24, 2016
a voice of reason

i wish the masters of the univrse wiould allow reverse engineered alien technology to make it into the consumer hardware stream quicker .... my cell phone lasts a day and my camera s from the pen f to the xpro2 really need twice there current capacity

Nov 24, 2016
TwoMetreBill

About once a week there is an announcement of a revolutionary new power storage technology. About once every decade one makes it to market. Please leave nonsense like this to Popular Science magazine.

Nov 24, 2016
EwanMC

Yes I concur, science & technology have absolutely no relevance to photography, in fact if I had my way we would all still be in the dark rooms.

Nov 24, 2016
Joseph S Wisniewski

Magic batteries are dpReview's favorite filler piece. So many of them over the last decade, and always emphasizing the fast charge aspect. Not a single one has ever made it into production.

Fuel cells had to have been the best of them all.

Nov 27, 2016
EwanMC

New lithium-air battery, Sodium-ion battery and Lithium Metal battery developments are all promising about half the weight for double the power.

http://static.highsnobiety.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/19210142/Lithium-Battery-1-960x640.jpg

Yes, I believe there is a Toyota fuel cell car that you can buy now with 300 mile range.

http://www.caranddriver.com/toyota/mirai

Nov 28, 2016*
alexzn
alexzn

Dpreview should be weary of publishing posts based on press releases. As correctly mentioned here there is no energy density data in the article. It's a nice with but not as revolutionary as it sounds.

Nov 24, 2016
heartdisease

Not to mention weeks worth of battery in seconds would need a whole lot more than a tiny usb connection and wireless Qi pads. It would take a substantial connection with possibly some clamping force. Unless they mean a few hundred seconds then maybe just a nice beefy connection.

Nov 24, 2016
Summi Luchs

Indeed charging a 1300mAh Battery (like Nikon EL-N-15) in 10 seconds would require a charging current of 468 Amperes (from a constant current source). Such currents are used in electrowelding and can turn all computer and household cables into vapor. It's vaporware, literally.

Nov 24, 2016*
Everlast66

And imagine you happen to plug in your phone for charge, while one or more people in your house plug their devices to charge as well. This would certainly fry your home cabling.

I understand charging is supposed to be for several seconds only, but it's not impossible with families often going out/coming back together and so many devices to charge - phones, cameras, tablets, etc.

Also this will cause insane problems for energy suppliers, since tens of people on each street will happen to plug in devices for charging simultaneously every morning when people get up for work/school.

I understand, that the "inventor" is exaggerating a bit to make it sound revolutionary, but such ridiculous claims undermine their entire announcement and makes me wonder if they are exaggerating some other parameters as well.

Nov 25, 2016
Henrik Herranen

Everlast66 & Summi: charging such a battery would not need to pose a problem to home cabling / fuses. Below is the math:

A full 7 Volt 1300 mAh battery contains about 9 Wh of power. A charger that would work at 1 kW (and thus draw 4.3 amps from 230 V mains) and do the necessary voltage conversions with an efficient DC-DC converter (as they all do), would fill that battery in a little over 30 seconds. Drawing 1 kW for 30 seconds, even if there were several devices from time to time, would be absolutely no problem with the power grid or the house internal power lines.

To scale the 1 kW I used in my charging example:
- A vacuum cleaner draws 2 kW from mains when at full power
- A hairdryer draws 1-1.5 kW
- Each heater element in an electrical stove draws 1-2 kW
- A small electrical sauna (available in almost every Finnish household) draws 6-10 kW
- An electrical heater can easily draw 2 kW
- A (tea) water heater draws 1-2 kW

2 kW would also work, but after that things get more hairy.

Nov 25, 2016*
Dr_Jon

Henrik Herranen - you can take 3kW from a 13A 240V socket, but pushing that into a small device is tricky, as if you reduce the voltage the current goes through the roof and the heating effect will melt/cook stuff. The only way to move that much power around is at high voltage (less current = lot less losses), which is tricky to handle as it does like jumping across gaps and the safety regulations get much stricter. (heat = I squared x Resistance; power delivered = volts x amps; air breaks down at about 20kV per cm; you need to be below 50 V for alternating current or 75 V for direct current to avoid regulatory/safety hurdles).
So if you could get 5A at 42V into a device and charge at 90% efficiency (you'd have to reduce the voltage, which is lossier from higher starting voltages and the cell won't absorb 100%) you could get about 525mAh into a capacitor in 10 seconds. However if it was 3.6V that would mean pumping in 52.5A which is very tricky (2.7W heat per milli-ohm of connection).

Nov 25, 2016
Everlast66

Henrik is missing the actual claim.
Firstly, it's not a normal phone battery, but large capacity one that will last "for over a week" so people assume 8x capacity, because a modern smartphone lasts for a day, so his calculated

- 1kW for 30 sec for a normal phone battery, now looks more like
- 8kW for 30 sec and is becoming a bit worrying

But then it is also claimed that the device would charge "in a few seconds" which is more like 3 sec and not 30 sec. So we end up with

- 80 kW for 3 sec (347 amps at 230 volts !!!)

And this is the ridiculous claim that the inventor made, and that's why people that have a clue flagged him straight away.

Someone will say that we shouldn't look at that claim literally, but I don't agree as the inventor deliberately overstates it to gain publicity and creates a false impression - people not familiar with the maths around it would envision plugging their phone, counting to three, and then having it charged for a week.

Nov 25, 2016*
Henrik Herranen

Evarlast66: I quite agree with you. The claims are over the top, and the technology almost certainly doesn't exist. For the last three decades, good rechargeable battery news never really have been quite true. How I don't wish for some better neergy packing technology than petrol/gas/benzine to exist! Oh well, apart from uranium and plutonium which haven't been too popular in hand-held devices as of late.

All in all, the only thing I was trying to say is that charging a current-capacity battery with new space alien technology wouldn't necessarily be impossible. But, again, I agree with you with the reality of the matter.

Nov 26, 2016
xeriwthe

bizarre that a random battery/supercap tech announcement would make it to dpreview.. these things are always coming out, and the real world application is always years away.. i mean i understand this is just a website, people can choose what articles they want, but this won't even come close to affecting photography for years (if it is even a technological development that actually clears a major hurdle for commercialization)

Nov 24, 2016
EwanMC

I'm still waiting for my robot wife. 😝

Nov 24, 2016
brycesteiner
brycesteiner

Battery technology is the elusive pinnacle that has been sought for many years. Even with the massive achievements made, we still need more. Looking back it really hasn't come that far. What has come a long way is lower usage with more power per cycle.
Wireless charging 20-30 years ago was going to be the norm by now. Still we aren't there and probably never will be.

I would think though that would be a better future. It would mean trickle charging and smaller batteries because you could charge your vehicle/watches/computer/etc all while using them.

Nov 24, 2016
melgross
melgross

Let's remember that today's smartphones wouldn't have been possible even in 2007 when Apple came out with the first "modern" cellphone. That progress in SoC technology has allowed cells to become so powerful that the new iPhone 7 (just using it as an example because it's got the most powerful SoC) is about as powerful as a low end notebook from 3 years ago.

And look at the size of the batteries they had, and still have!

Nov 24, 2016
brycesteiner
brycesteiner

I do agree with you much progress has been made recently and things like this will probably drive it more than ever before. 30 years ago we thought we would be so much further than we are.

Nov 24, 2016
melgross
melgross

"Not yet ready for commercialization" means that these are essentially hand made devices which may, or may not, be able to be made using a production line methodology.

Just as the numerous battery technologies we've been reading about in the past few years, this may never come to light.

Nov 24, 2016
Music Hands

Leave articles like this to Popular Science ... where we read about it 30 years ago, and still no commercially viable application for cameras. This article shouldn't take space on DPReview.com.

Nov 25, 2016
Everlast66

So they claim they've solved the biggest problem in electronics industry right now, but fail to mention what energy density they managed to achieve - the key parameter when it comes to battery technology - how much electric charge can be stored in a unit of volume.

Existing super/ultra capacitors have always been an alternative to Li-polymer / Li-ion to use as batteries but they can only pack 1/10th of the energy, so for example a mirror-less camera battery would allow only 30 shots instead of 300.

So they are basically claiming that they increased capacitor energy density close to 100 times compared to current technologies, 10 times to match Li-po batteries and 10 times to last more than a week as they say. That's not impossible with nano technologies, but at least they should have given a number for energy density.

Nov 24, 2016
Lexxie

the new thing here is the two dimensional layer, so theoretical there is an unlimited bigger number of electrons available in the same three dimensional space

Nov 24, 2016
Everlast66

Lexxie, sorry, but I don't buy this. You're basically suggesting that they invented a technology for unlimited battery.

So is this capacitor some sort of black hole, that you can throw in an unlimited number of electrons?

This is ridiculous. Even if these are some sort of 2D layers, they have their thickness and capacity. And you can only fit a certain number of layers in a battery of certain size.

Nov 24, 2016*
melgross
melgross

Well the increase in capacity requires greater surface area. So if this claim is true, and there is no reason to believe otherwise, the extremely thin material allows much more surface area in a given space, allowing more capacity.

Nov 24, 2016
CliffC

If it's a thin material then the withstand voltage will be low. Capacitors don't store energy, they store charge. As you put more electrons in the voltage increases. Eventually the potential exceeds the withstand voltage and the device explodes.

Nov 24, 2016
Everlast66

Cliff, a battery/capacitor actually does store energy.

Energy is the potential/capacity of a system to perform work. Energy can be in many forms, electric, chemical, kinetic, etc and be converted from one form to another.

In our specific case we store electric energy in the form of electric charge differential because we want to power an electric circuit, but this is energy because it has the potential to do work and power our cameras.

Batteries or capacitors are sometimes even rated in Joules. For example Sony's standard mirror-less camera battery the NP-FW50 was about 27 kilo Joules.

Nov 24, 2016
otto k

FWIW, all super capacitors operate at under 2.8V - that's the biggest issue. If they were ~300+V it would be excellent, but no such luck, yet.

Nov 24, 2016
CliffC

The point I was trying to make is that the voltage in a capacitor is not constant. Yes, it stores energy in a sense but it does so in the form of charge: Q = CV. The more charge, the higher the voltage. A battery is not the same as a capacitor. It stores energy chemically and has a near constant voltage. This has significant ramifications since the voltage of a capacitor increases as it is charged and decreases as it is discharged. And, fwiw, capacitors are never rated in Joules because, as I said, they don't store energy, they store charge. They are rated in Farads. Batteries are rated in units of energy, typically amp-hours or Joules (= kg * m^2/s^2).

Nov 24, 2016
Everlast66

Cliff, all that you're saying is correct. I just don't agree with "it stores energy in a sense". Should be FUNDAMENTALLY capacitors store energy.

Especially, when we are talking about capacitors as a replacement for batteries.

Of course, you have their capacitance in Farads written on the side, but you also have the rated voltage as well, and neither of them gives the complete picture on its own.

And the two give you the energy stored, you just don't calculate it explicitly and have not looked at capacitors from this wider perspective.

Energy = 1/2 * Capacitance * V * V

I also had a narrower view of capacitors before, but a rail-gun project I was planning opened my eyes and then some more interesting applications as well. People even replaced their car batteries with capacitor banks like this one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPJao1xLe7w

Nov 25, 2016
Lexxie

1. you should not call it a capacitor or capacity.
2. even 10'000 layers of 2 atoms thick is thinner than 1 (metal) layer used in a standard capacitor

Nov 25, 2016
Everlast66

@Lexxie
1. Who are you talking to?
2. The title of the article is "New supercapacitor technology could bring an end to our battery charging woes" so yes I am totally going to talk about capacitors.
3. Thinner or not, the actual capacitor/battery requires structural integrity, which takes space even if the technology is very efficient and there are still no energy density figures stated, so No, I still don't accept the theory that these capacitors will have unlimited capacity to store energy!

Nov 25, 2016
lesnapanda

to charge a phone for full week in a couple seconds would require a charging current from a std 230V AC socket of around 185 amperes.

Nov 24, 2016
falconeyes
falconeyes

That's not that much, considering the currents in e-cars.
Just have a dedicated battery-powered charger ready which charges slowly over 230V AC and decharges into the smart device when conncected.

Nov 24, 2016
fireplace33
fireplace33

Ha!
Try putting that sort of current through a typical phone usb cable connector without frying it. :-)

Nov 24, 2016
lesnapanda

@falconeyes - while the comparison is interesting, I find it a little flawed. I'm not saying 185 amperes (or double that in the US) is not possible. It's simply not possible at home, with normal diameter electrical cabling. Also - it's not possible to have that charge move into the capacitor without generating heat that would fry your charger/phone/etc. (you might have a problem using superconducting materials in a phone). Why are cars not fried because of such currents? Well, it is becuase they are big and you can use thick conductors in them. Nothing you can even try to think of in a mobile phone.
Not to mention the size and cost of the charging unit. And a hundred other reasons why this "charge in seconds, use for a week" BS is just that... BS.

Now battery technology is the major bottleneck in a lot of computer science areas (IoT especially). So any progress in getting more dense energy sources, better charging, etc. is more than welcome. But this is just PR done in a wrong way.

Nov 24, 2016*
melgross
melgross

We would have to know the internal resistance of the capacitor to know what the heating would be. The main reason batteries heat up as they do is high internal resistance. But remember that the multi farad capacitors used in the after market auto enthusiast industry can be charged very rapidly, because capacitors do have a very low internal resistance.

Nov 24, 2016
tony brown

You don't require the 185 Amps at 230V but just at the battery (Capacitor) volts for which you use a drop down transformer. E.g. at 9V out you need 7A in - entirely feasible.
185 A at 230 V would be 42 KW which would charge a typical car battery in 1 minute !!!!!!!!! A cell phone battery is NOT expected to equal a car battery in capacity. Unless that's what you envisage, is it?

Nov 24, 2016*
phill104

We also find that in normal batteries the low efficiency has a lot to do with the rate of chemical reaction. That effect is not present in capacitor technology so they are far more efficient. This makes your high voltage and current assumptions off base by a long way

Nov 24, 2016
lesnapanda

@Tony - check your math. Take the capacity of your current smartphone battery. Multiply by 5 (full week operation from a single charge). Now see how much power you have to apply in order to charge that in say 5 seconds. That's exactly why this claim is so ridiculous.

Nov 24, 2016
lesnapanda

@Melgros, Phil- I'm not "worried" about the internal resistance of the capacitor as much as about the resistance of the cables and connections in the PCB.

Nov 24, 2016
phill104

It is about efficiency, how quickly you can store energy and in what form. We are not having to lose huge amounts of energy creating a chemical reaction, which is what we do when we charge lithium cells. The idea behind this tech is to simply lay a charge on a suitable surface. Using capacitors this way is nothing new, in fact we already see it in numerous devices. So it really is a tech that should in theory work and with nothing like the energy required to create that chemical reaction in current cells. I do however agree that this tech could be very dangerous in the wrong hands.

Nov 24, 2016
Turbguy1
Turbguy1

That 185 amps would easily exceed the main service breaker on most residences (although some have 200+ Amp service). What can you get from a standard US household 110 outlet before tripping breakers? 20 amps at most. So charging must take place in several minutes rather than seconds for the way the world is wired.

UNLESS you step down the charging voltage...then it might be possible...but it's still gonna take a huge conductor to handle the current. Think something like a set of good automotive battery jumper cables.

Nov 25, 2016
falconeyes
falconeyes

@lesnapanda
my comment was more along the lines NOT to focus on this charge time detail.

The article contains much more interesting elements to comment or criticize about. Yet nobody does so. Everybody just comments on the little detail elementary school physics suffices to understand. And that's ridiculous.

Nov 25, 2016
Zdman

Very exciting stuff but there always seem to be a a few things articles like this don't mention. Yield, when they try to manufactue Its going to be low but I suppose it will improve over time. Non linear power delivery. A lithium battery has a pretty flat discharge curve while this will be a diagonal line so its going to need some serious regulating electronics. Fragility. Your screen isn't going to be the only thing you worry about when you drop your phone. Electrocution hazard. This thing will probably kill you if you touch the terminals so don't expect it to be removable and if it fails expect your phone to melt in your pocket.

Nov 24, 2016*
PhotoUniverse

Sony uses will pass on this. They prefer to carry 10 batteries!

Nov 24, 2016
S Yu

You know using an MF lens , EFC and manually switching between screen and EVF, I could get ~500 shots out of that small battery on the a7RII...but since Olympus could decide that their flagship suddenly needs a bigger battery than the rest of the lineup, there's no reason for Sony not to switch to a bigger battery for their FF lineup, which is what they should have done from the original a7.

Nov 24, 2016
Carl Mucks

If the wiring on this super capacitor can pass thousands of Amps without noticeable voltage drop required for several secs charging then it's the best bomb material ever created -- just short the terminals and that small thing will release some 50 kJ in a few millisec (some 10MW) explosion.

Nov 24, 2016
melgross
melgross

Nobody is talking about thousands of amps. A few thousand milliamperes is what's being discussed.

Nov 24, 2016
MasterWayne

Melgross, not if you're talking about serious energy storage (which is necessary for a week running phone). Since voltage is limited by insulation, current must be enormously high, in order to realise said power.

Nov 24, 2016
Johannes Zander

"...two-dimensional metal materials."
Is that even possible in reality or only mathematicaly possible?

Nov 24, 2016
badi

it's a technical term... you know as the "computer mouse" is a device you click on with a wire tail (probably future generations will not understand why it was called a mouse in the first place) and not a real rodent :)

The "2D materials" refers to a structure printed on a surface... like ink on a paper. It's a flat base, where you build a structure with "only a few atoms thick" as quoted in the article.

Nov 24, 2016
Ademeion

"it's a technical term... you know as the "computer mouse" is a device you click on with a wire tail (probably future generations will not understand why it was called a mouse in the first place) and not a real rodent :)"

Sorry, but that's a very bad analogy.

"Two-dimensional" in this context must come from a marketing person. No self respecting scientist or researcher would use that. Researchers behind this technology probably did a face palm when they heard it.

Nov 24, 2016
badi

The analogy might be bad, if you don't like it, that's ok :)

But the term is correct, and technical :). Probably the marketing would come up with something more funny. The full name is "2D topological materials" or "single layer materials", but the very common name is just "2D materials".
Search google/wikipedia for more information :)

Nov 24, 2016
falconeyes
falconeyes

I think the better known approach (and mentioned in the article) is graphene. Graphene is made from 1 atom thick layers of carbon where layers are relatively strong but forces between layers are very weak. The very idea has been abstracted into the term 2D materials.

Nov 24, 2016
Ademeion

@ Badi

"The analogy might be bad, if you don't like it, that's ok :)"

It's not about me liking it or not; it just isn't a good analogy (and I don't mean to be unfriendly when I say that).

According to the article the material isn't a single layer one, so from which point of view you do you think the term 2D material is correct?

Nov 24, 2016
melgross
melgross

Yes, graphemes is a material that, in the scientific literature, is referred to as a 2 dimensional material, as it's only one atom thick. Technically, it's not, but that's the way these materials are referred to as being. The reason is that materials that are several atoms thick are referred to as being "bulk" materials, thus, 3D.

Nov 24, 2016
badi

Ademeion, they are 2D as in order to be classified as 3D material (still talking about topological structures, ok?) it is required to have a 3D structure: a mesh of some sort, different layers interlaced, etc. so it doesn't classify. Ok, it is "a material that uses a thickens of several atoms, but with the principles of a 2D material".... sounds pretty lengthy, and not so catchy, but in my opinion you are just over pedantic about it.

Nov 24, 2016
Ademeion

The error (or bad writing) seems to be in the original article. The original research linked there seems to be about putting several layers of 2D materials (not many atoms thick) on 1D wires. The source article twists that into this:

- "The team at UCF has experimented with applying newly discovered two-dimensional materials only a few atoms thick to supercapacitors"

That's of course wrong, and that's what you have been defending. The 2D materials used are not "only a few atoms thick", they are one atom thick.

Nov 25, 2016
Cheema

I have been hearing similar claims from different parties for more than 10 years. Have any come to pass? No.

People have been making similar claims about breakthroughs in data storage for ages as well. In real life. No real breakthrough. But incremental improvements over time? Yes.

Battery storage has been slowly getting better. But don't hold your breadth for a huge jump in capacity. If history is any guide, its going to be baby steps.

Nov 24, 2016
Garug

Yes I agree, but that depends of perspective. Looking back 100 years and the time before that, it is giant leaps we are taking now and all too fast...

Nov 24, 2016
badi

Cheema, yes, but from time to time a new tech can be applied in some field, and that revolutionize it in a whole new level.
Talking about history - what was the "computer industry" before the transistor ... it could have developed a few more generations using relays, maybe the relays could have been miniaturized a bit but never achieve the today's status with billions of transistors per chip.
For reference: the transistor was invented in 1947, in 1958 was developed the first integrated circuit (that's 11 years) and in 1971 was available the first commercial micro-processor (that's 24 years later).
You could also think of a lot of other fields where new techs provided a whole new universe impossible to reach with previous technologies, no matter how many improvements and small steps would have been done: internal combustion engine, using steel in buildings, etc.

Nov 24, 2016
badi

Oh, and one more thing... the study of graphene and other 2D materials started in about 2004 (according to wikipedia). That's only 12 years ago. And the first references i could find to super-capacitors based on single layer materials are from 2013. That't only 3 years back :).

Nov 24, 2016
falconeyes
falconeyes

What revolutionized the computer industry wasn't the invention of the transistor.

It was the progress in solid state physics, esp. for semiconducting materials. The transistor then was an imminent idea somebody was lucky enough to have first.

I am always puzzled how stealth the real progress in physics appears to the rest of the society.

My problem with that article is that it doesn't describe a break-thru progress in any of the leading edge research frontiers. It is more like proposing the transistor rather than fundamental progress in semiconductors. Except that this isn't the transistor.

Nov 24, 2016*
badi

falconeyes, yes, that is correct... but studying semiconductor materials is pretty generic, pointing out "the invention of the transistor" as the cornering point is just easier, and it was just for pointing out that "historically" massive improvements in one area require a real break through and not only incremental improvements.

Nov 24, 2016
Garug

It is great if there is improvement for current battery technologies, but I would advice not to over hype it, this is just ridiculous.

"If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds "

Typical phone battery is 3.7V 3000 mAh so around 10 Wh to charge that in "few seconds", lets say in 3.6 seconds, would mean 10 000 W charger :)

well there could be a solution to that, a charger with a super capacitor... but what small connector or other power transfer method that would fit on phone would but trough that kind of power? None.

Nov 24, 2016*
Garug

Ps. even if there would be such connector, it would not be possible for that size battery or supercapasitor to handle almost 3000 A power transfer, so it is simply just overhyped without any reality check.

Nov 24, 2016
Guenter from Austria

It's like filling a bathtub in 0.5 seconds.

Nov 24, 2016
Garug

Ps2. if they would have invented such practical super conductor technology that would handle the fast power transfers, that would be the big news, not the improvement in battery technology :)

Nov 24, 2016
Garug

Ok, reading down, it looks I am not the first one that thinks this claim is ridiculous. :)

Nov 24, 2016*
badi

Actually I've heard about this (not sure if it was the same team, but a similar approach) a long time back... probably more than a year. Now it appears again in the news but in almost the same form... so the tech is indeed interesting, but the progress looks very slow.

Garug, yes you are 100% right, however if the tech itself really works, the charging time does not really matter. If, let's say, in half the space of a current battery you could pack one 10 times higher capacity, that does not overheat badly when charging... it's still a great deal, even if it does not charge at much faster rate.

Nov 24, 2016
badi

also (if claim are... honest), applied to car batteries, it could benefit from connectors able to transfer some high power. Of course the "few seconds" term is just hype, you don't even fill a fuel tank with petrol in a few seconds. It takes you 10 seconds till you decide witch petrol pump to pick from the fill station :)

Nov 24, 2016*
Jaythomasni

That must be choudary apparently indian 'smart' scientist going overboard boasting his skills to the American media...don't take it literally...he just said he invented a super fast charging device......just fun speculating..

Nov 24, 2016*
Garug

Yes, the technology is interesting and super capacitors are already used to start car motors etc. if they have improved that technology, great.

I am just saying they should not over hype it like "you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds "

Nov 24, 2016
zodiacfml

Not news....just to attract investors. Moving on.

Nov 24, 2016
maxnimo

So let me get this straight - they invented a fantastic new super-capacitor that appears to hold orders of magnitude more charge than existing super-capacitors but they really don't have anything to show, not even a small working prototype? Hmmm.....

Nov 24, 2016
Joseph S Wisniewski

Oh good grief, not the "charge in seconds" inanity again.

“you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,”

My S7 has an 11.1 watt-hour battery that gets it through a day. To get through a week would, therefore, be 77.7W-h. That's 280kW-s.

How many seconds is "a few seconds"? Let's be generous and say 60. You charge the phone at 4.7kW to hit 60 seconds. A bit much for a single domestic circuit, even in 220V countries. Let's make it 1kW, to make sure we can charge the phone on a single domestic circuit in a 110v country, with some lighting or a computer or TV sharing the circuit. That's 280 seconds, not really "a few", but about 5 minutes. We can live with that.

How much does a 1kW charger weigh? About 5 pounds and it's around 6in square, 4 in tall. Costs about $500. And you sure can't run 1kW through a USB-C connector.

Which brings us back to a practical charger, 5-20W, affordable, packable. In short, status quo.

Nov 24, 2016
Joseph S Wisniewski

Oops.

Looks like Lee Jay beat me to this by about four hours. ;)

Nov 24, 2016
Alex Permit
Alex Permit

It's worth repeating. You also added the point that running 1kw through a port in a phone would be an "interesting" excersize.

Nov 24, 2016
Jaythomasni

That must be choudary apparently indian 'smart' scientist going overboard boasting his skills to the American media...don't take it literally...he just said he invented a super fast charging device......just fun speculating..

Nov 24, 2016*
mgblack74

This is good news for Sony users. 1-2 batteries instead of 10 for a full day shoot. X-D

Nov 24, 2016
EthanP99

Heres how I would use it.

Imagine your home having its own battery that it slow charges and tops off while youre not at home. When you do come home, you can plug your car or any other device into that battery and get a very rapid charge without stressing the power grid.

Nov 24, 2016
Photoreader

This seems to be one if the few - or the only - constructive replies here. Though you'll still need a solid 10 kW ++ connection to the grid. But it really would solve some problems. Also for owners of solar- ans wind-power generators. Now it it only would work on large scale production and application.

Nov 24, 2016
Turbguy1
Turbguy1

Yes. THis is a realistic reply. The Electric Utility Industry would be HIGHLY interested in this type of evegy storage. Central, or even home based systems could be used to storage.

But...I would keep them far from the house...

Nov 25, 2016
GodSpeaks
GodSpeaks

Anything that gets us away from LiIon or other batteries is a positive step forward, especially if it is durable and extends capacity.

Electronics with non removable batteries should be outlawed. Why consumers have accepted this I have no idea. Another brilliant idea from Apple.

Nov 24, 2016
Joseph S Wisniewski

> Why consumers have accepted this I have no idea.

Weatherproofing, waterproofing, styling, etc.

Now, why consumers accepted it from Apple, who brought it to us without weatherproofing or styling that required it, that's another story.

Nov 24, 2016
idahodoc

The latest Apples have distributed custom molded batteries throughout all the open space in the Laptop and phone. Eccentric batteries are not easily removed. A removable battery would have less capacity by physical definition.

Nov 24, 2016
JF69

Also better design, as well as (more importantly) increased battery life through eccentric shape, all thanks to Apple it seems.

Nov 24, 2016
Jose Ernesto Passos

I hope that this new technology use abundant materials, so that it can be applied to fulfil the needs of all. Looks like it could be the way out of fossil fuels and resulting in a cleaner world. Great news!!!

Nov 24, 2016
HB1969

The original scientific paper is behind a paywall so I wasn't going to spend 40bucks for 48hr access. What I could read was that it's a tungsten oxide (WO3) core with tungsten disulfide (WS2) "shells"...the elements that make these compounds are more abundant than Lithium.
NB its a proof of concept so we don't know whether we'll see something commercial in 5 years or 50+years.

Nov 24, 2016
Joseph S Wisniewski

Well, there is the little detail of tungsten being about the most expensive to process non-radioactive element.

Nov 24, 2016
Leonp

Question: does 'proof of concept' mean that they have a (of course very small) working IRL prototype or does it mean it's only a theoretical one?

Nov 24, 2016
brycesteiner
brycesteiner

@Jose
>>Looks like it could be the way out of fossil fuels and resulting in a cleaner world.<<
Why? The way to stop using fossil fuels is to find a different energy source. This article is talking about batteries that store energy, not where the energy is sourced from. This could create a higher energy demand due to pushing so much power that fast. It would use a lot of power with the much resistance.

Nov 24, 2016
HB1969

@Leonp: Without reading the original paper, I would say "proof of concept" is that they've made a small device (eg a small cluster of nanowires) and they've gotten it to hold charge and discharge. It doesn't have to be able to power anything to show proof of concept. Anything else like "will charge in seconds" is likely to be press release hyperbole.

Nov 25, 2016
Lee Jay

The math doesn't work.

“If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,”

My cell phone battery holds 11Wh and lasts a day. I'd need 77Wh to last a week.

To charge a 77Wh capacity in "a few seconds" (I'll give them 5 seconds) would take 55.4kW of power, or 120V at 462 amps with 100% charge efficiency.

My main panel is 200A at 240V or 48kW so even all the power that can pass through my main breaker couldn't accomplish that charge rate.

Nov 23, 2016
D500 001
D500 001

Hello Lee Jay. It appears that you are claiming bull to these peoples research and development. What could be the reason for such a claim by them? Are you qualified to present a valid argument against their research? Of course, if we all agree that technology cannot advance any further than what we know, your post holds water.

Nov 23, 2016
Old Cameras

Exactly! Same problem trying to charge an electric car fast, you need half the output of the power plant fir five minutes!

Nov 23, 2016
Lee Jay

D500 - check the math I did. Even if their device is exactly as they stated, you couldn't charge it that fast on any conventional residential or commercial plug-in power source. Yeah, I've got 480V 100A three-phase plugs at work for industrial purposes, I'm just saying that quote was highly misleading (essentially wrong).

Nov 23, 2016
Lee Jay

Old cameras - no, that's not quite right either.

Let's say you need 300Wh/mile. To get, say, 200 miles of range you'd need 60 kWh. I claim bathroom breaks take a maximum of 8 minutes. At 90% charge efficiency, that's half a megawatt. That's a lot, but it's less than 1% of the output of an ordinary power plant, and it's easily available at the medium voltage distribution grid. That's not as common as gas stations which are typically on the low voltage distribution grid, but it's not "half the output of the power plant" either.

Nov 23, 2016
D500 001
D500 001

Lee. keep your head stuck in the "present" sand if you choose. Who woulda thunk 20 years ago a cell phone camera equal to a $3000 digital camera, communication real time over a broadband internet (instead of land line modem), instant upload and downloads, and on and on? Progress (evolution) is part of the universe whether ya want it or not.

Nov 24, 2016
D500 001
D500 001

Tell me about Tesla.

Nov 24, 2016
Jose Ernesto Passos

Lee Jay you made a good point, let's say reality strikes back! Any way I think this type of research is in the right direction to a cleaner world.

Nov 24, 2016
Lee Jay

D500 - you are missing the point.

Even if their device is every bit as good as they say it is, home power supplies couldn't possibly charge it "in a few seconds". 5 minutes would be possible, but not a few seconds.

Nov 24, 2016
panther fan

@D500 you had basic physics in shool? He just says the power you would need to charge that fast would kill the wires in your wall.
In Europe a wall socket is usually rated up to 4kW. (2.4kW US) There is no way of charging something with 50kW

Nov 24, 2016*
D500 001
D500 001

Under present conditions, five minutes is a huge advance. I do understand the math, or physics, applicable to Lee's statements. My point is, advancements in technology do not adhere to present day understanding of elements and how we apply them. Rock on with better batteries!

Nov 24, 2016
Lee Jay

Advancements in technology still have to follow conservation of energy, and my comment was about that, not about their device.

Nov 24, 2016
SmilerGrogan

As always, the future.

Nov 24, 2016*
Karroly

Lee Jay is right.
And I can hardly imagine what would happen if the wires of this supercapacitor are shorted by mistake.
An exploding Samsung Note 7 would sound like a damp squib compared to this !

Nov 24, 2016
Leonp

Digital guys and girls are used to see all digital stuff double every 1 or 2 years. Sometimes they miss that physics and chemistry just don't work that way, but laws of physics and chemisty still apply and will.

Nov 24, 2016
lesnapanda

not to mention the conductor diameter required to pass through 10kA at 5V. Unless of course you want your phone to also be a welder.

Nov 24, 2016
EskeRahn
EskeRahn

Well your math holds, BUT in principle we could imagine a new smart 'phone charger' at our desks, that collects and hold the needed power from the mains over minutes (or hours), and can flash it into the new capacitor very quickly. So the problem isn't really the mains side.

However there are other problems in transporting large amount of electrical energy in a very short time. It either need to be at very high currents, and thus require really good conductors (preferably superconductors...) or very high voltage and thus require really good separation/insulation, that is hardly compatible with the compact size of portable devices. BUT it MIGHT work with things the size of an electric car.

Nov 24, 2016*
Old Cameras

Lee Jay - are you freaking kidding me? I was making a joke. I'm making the point that rapid charge is impractical. And think about charging multiple electric cars, not just one. You'd need an enourmous transformer and an enormous feed with massive available short circuit power necessitating expensive switchgear and distribution equipment. Do the math. There's a Tesla super charge site near my house with six chargers. Guess what happens if you have more than two cars there - output drops, charging times increase, because the transformer cannot serve all stations at the maximum rate. Not even close. If everyone owned an electric car you'd need an ugly increase in distribution and power lines. Typical home has a split phase 200A service, 80% rated, that's 32kW. Don't forget to turn everything else in the house off.

Nov 25, 2016
Lee Jay

I work at the end of a long distribution line and we have 10 megawatts of service. There's a wooden pole distribution line I drive next to everyday to work that carries 32 megawatts.

Fast charging multiple cars at half a megawatt each is way more doable than providing 50kW to home users to charge their phones in 5 seconds.

Nov 25, 2016
RedFox88

Yawn. Read stuff on new processes developed but they newer come out to change things. Bought up by the big boys? Who wants to sell something great if you can't sell more of them because they never wear out?

Nov 23, 2016
Elite83

Thanks for the motivation, stuff like this is why I'm going to school for engineering. One more year.

Nov 23, 2016
evogt500

Sorry I am always skeptical about new battery technology.

Nov 23, 2016
pictureAngst

Does it make you feel flat?

Nov 23, 2016
D500 001
D500 001

Skeptical of battery technology? Where have you been for the last 50 years? I have been here on earth and know the advancements that have occurred in battery technology. I say rock on with pushing the limits.

Nov 23, 2016
Tan68
Tan68

Let's just rock !

Why do you continue to qualify your exhortation with 'pushing limits' or 'better batteries' ?

Qualifications are for nerds.

Rock on!

Nov 24, 2016*
Karroly

This is not new battery technology, but new capacitor technology that could replace batteries and push them into the grave...

Nov 24, 2016
entoman

What a pity that this sort of energy tech is not yet sufficiently developed to be put in current cameras. If it was, we might actually have mirrorless cameras that didn't run out of power twice a day (or more).

It's all very well carrying extra batteries (although some airlines refuse to let you take more than a few), but for those of us who spend several days at a time in the field, without access to electricity, maintaining a sufficient stock of fully charged batteries can be a real nightmare.

I suspect that many wildlife photographers and war photographers e.g. would like to switch to mirrorless, but simply can't do so because of the very high battery consumption.

Nov 23, 2016
BlueBomberTurbo

Just power via a USB battery. All the juice you could ever want.

Nov 24, 2016
Karroly

@BlueBomberTurbo,
Not all the cameras can be supplied through the USB connector. And I would not rely on this fragile connector to be used in the field. I would only rely on a military-class connector with retainer...

Nov 24, 2016*
paulkienitz
paulkienitz

3/3: The second approach is a simple sort of switching power supply, with no transformer. Put a silicon switch and a wide resistor between the main bank and a smaller capacitor, and switch the power to that capacitor on and off to keep it charged to a steady level. This would risk introducing interference to the rest of the circuitry so it would need shielding. And if you don't combine it with the banking idea, it would mean that the supercapacitor might be storing dangerously high voltages.

The safety would be a concern anyway. Someone opening up the device would have to tiptoe very carefully around the capacitor's output leads until he makes sure it's discharged. And in the event of a failure it could release energy a lot more abruptly than a burning lithium battery.

Nov 23, 2016*
WaltFrench

Thanks for the ideas. I imagine the HV safety concerns could be addressed by the “battery” modules having both the supercapacitors AND the switched/regulated LV circuits into a single, sealed unit, only allowing current inflows to the HV circuits.

Good sealing w protection should also lessen catastrophic release risks.

Nov 23, 2016
otto k

DC DC converters

Nov 23, 2016
Tan68
Tan68

Shouldn't be any more dangerous than repairing a microwave oven or old tube TV mid-flight. Rock on... :^(

Nov 24, 2016
Karroly

A camera is not directly powered by the battery because the various chips require many different, and sometime very low voltages, well below 2 volts. So there is a DC/DC voltage converter to do the job already. And a DC/DC voltage converter can handle a huge input voltage swing when designed to do so... It is not necessary to have a constant voltage at the input.

Nov 24, 2016*
paulkienitz
paulkienitz

Traditionally, most DC-DC voltage converters used in electronics are simple zener-type regulators which have the same current on input and output. These just convert voltage differences into waste heat. But maybe they're doing better on portable devices now that battery life is such a major engineering goal.

Nov 28, 2016
otto k

@paul No. We have moved away from that a long time ago. That's why we have tiny 2A chargers for tablets.

Nov 28, 2016
Peter G

They haven't really said anything new. Super/Ultra capacitors have been fast charging and extremely long lasting for ages.

The capacitor problem is one of energy storage capacity. At BEST they have 10% the capacity of Lithium Batteries by Mass.

So your 20 gram phone battery becomes a 200 gram battery, that weighs more than your phone.

There is continual hype around this idea, mainly to attract investors. But it would be foolish to invest a dime until they can show you a testable prototype that actually has reasonable storage capacity.

Nov 23, 2016
paulkienitz
paulkienitz

The claim is that they've beaten that 10% limit. We shall see.

Nov 23, 2016
PeaceKeeper

Awfully long comment for someone who apparently didn't bother to read the article.

Nov 23, 2016
Peter G

Where is that claim? This isn't the first time I have seen this story and I followed to it's sources and I have never seen an serious mention of energy density.

All you get meaningless hype statements, like : "Charge in seconds and work for a week".

It's the same BS I have been hearing about Super/Ultra Capacitors for over a decade.

Nov 23, 2016
PeaceKeeper

The entire 2nd and 3rd(quoted) paragraphs.

Nov 23, 2016
PeaceKeeper

"flexible supercapacitors that can store more energy and be charged faster than current battery technology."

Nov 23, 2016
EskeRahn
EskeRahn

@PeaceKeeper

Actually the text is dubious. What they mean by "store more energy", must be /interpreted/. Assumable they mean in the same size/weight, that is : "store energy with higher density"

Nov 23, 2016*
Mark Roberts

I agree... the hype re-supercaps continues...

Nov 23, 2016
PeaceKeeper

"our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability,"

From the full article.

Read.

Nov 23, 2016
fusoexplorer

These batteries are graphene based multiple layers which are one atom thick. A little different than the older technology.

Nov 24, 2016
EskeRahn
EskeRahn

@PeaceKeeper

Oh I read it allright (though not source-paper), but did not over-interpret my hopes into the text....

What do they actually mean when comparing with "conventional ones"? This MIGHT be still mean that they are surpassed by the best of the other ones....

It COULD be a bit like when alkaline battery advertising are comparing with classic ones, and claims to last n times longer....

But let us keep our fingers crossed - any improvements in batteries are welcomed :-)

Nov 24, 2016
Peter G

@Peacekeeper. I read it. All I see is vague Hype statements.

A Rehash of the EEstor fiasco. Back in 2006 they were promising a better than battery Supercapacitor. They were were supposed to deliver a real Electric Car battery in 2007. 7 more years of empty hype followed.

In 2014 they finally released some detailed specs.

Their energy density was only about 1% of their original claim. 8 years of hype that amounted to nothing. Since then I have seen a couple more Supercaps hyped without energy density numbers (the most important number).

I want to see real energy density numbers. Not vague hype statements and not theoretical numbers.

Build a demo cell and measure it's energy capacity and weight. Better yet have a third party verify.

I bet when that happens it will be right back in the realm of Supercaps already on the market.

Supercaps have been the snake oil of the past decade. It isn't unreasonable to ask for some real numbers to back the hype.

Nov 24, 2016
Lan

Peter G: Whilst I agree with the main thrust of your OP, if everyone had your world view we would probably still be sitting around in unheated houses with no glass windows.

Somebody needs to invest in long term research. Without long term research many of the big jumps in technology we've already had probably wouldn't have occurred... Not everything is quick and easy to develop.

Nov 24, 2016*
EskeRahn
EskeRahn

@Lan I guess we all want better power sources for our devices than the current technology offers. But any claims of improvements should be more that fluffy words - and as other have posted on the claim to charge an amount of energy similar to a current phablet battery in a few seconds is far from reality, It might be possible in lab conditions, but will not be happening on your hand held device due to physical limitations - unless someone invents the holy grail: a superconductor working at room temperature...

Nov 24, 2016
paulkienitz
paulkienitz

I did read the article, and as noted the claim of storing more energy is right there.

But that doesn't mean they can prove it -- this might end up in the same file as the company that claims they're making a thorium powered cell that can power a car.

Nov 28, 2016
paulkienitz
paulkienitz

2/3: I can imagine two approaches which would not require a transformer: the first is to divide the capacitor into many banks, and put them all in parallel when the voltage is highest, then in two banks in series when the voltage drops to half, then three banks when it drops to one third, and so on until you decide that it's not worth further subdivisions to squeeze out the remaining fraction of power. That's still inefficient as the voltage regulator still wastes the difference between whatever voltage it's at now and the voltage level at which it switches banks.

Nov 23, 2016*
paulkienitz
paulkienitz

1/3: This sounds great, but there's one big catch. Batteries supply power at constant voltage with diminishing current capacity, or to put it another way, increasing resistance. Capacitors, on the other hand, produce voltage proportional to how fully they are charged. An electronic device running off of a supercapacitor will have to be able to handle a wide range of input voltages without wasting half of the power in the way that commonplace voltage regulation does.

Nov 23, 2016*
Old Cameras

Yeahhhhhh, it'll be a while.

Nov 23, 2016
Midwest Camera Guy

Imagine pulling up to the charging station in your Tesla after driving for 500 miles and having it fully charge for the next 500 miles in less time than it takes to fill your current car's take of gas. This could be amazing!

Nov 23, 2016
Old Cameras

That would be amazing indeed but think about the total magnitude of energy you need to ram into the better. The largest Tesla battery is rated 100kWh. In simple terms that's 100 amps @ 1000 volts for one hour, except the voltage isn't that high. If you want to do that in 10 or 15 minutes, something is gonna melt. Spectacularly.

Nov 23, 2016
zorgon

Tesla's supercharger already does 120kW. A supercapacitor should easily be able to handle 4 times that. In fact tesla have already stated that a 10min charging time could be possible in the future.

Nov 23, 2016
Nick Brundle - Photography
Nick Brundle - Photography

Great tech indeed!
Something to look forward to in the near future

Nov 23, 2016
Stan Wong Photography

Near future or distant future. Either way I look forward to the day energy storage devices last far longer than 1,000 cycles (capacitors are typically good for 100,000's of cycles), have higher energy density than any current batteries (A significant shortcoming of capacitors) and maintain their advantage on max charge & dis-charge rates.

I've see these types of articles over the past decade, so far they've all been puff pieces used to raise money.

Nov 23, 2016