Clark School Home UMD

ISR News Story

A peek under a hybrid’s hood reveals wood?


Sometimes it seems like it takes forever to charge your phone. That’s because a chemical reaction inside your battery needs time to happen. A supercapacitor doesn't use a chemical reaction, instead it just attracts energy to one of its ends. This means it charges and discharges quickly. Supercapacitors don't hold enough charge to alone power a phone, but are often used in regenerative brakes for hybrid cars, where a brief surge of energy is all that’s needed. An even more environmentally-friendly supercapacitor has been invented by engineers at the University of Maryland: It's all made of wood.

When alive, the tree grew channels to draw water from the ground. Now Liangbing Hu, of the department of materials science, and his team have used those channels to transmit the electrical charge, made even straighter by heating them and exposing them to carbon dioxide. The other end of the supercapacitor is also baked at a high temperature and then filled with electricity attracting material. In the middle, a piece of unbaked wood is filled with a gel that conducts ions. The wood sandwich works as well as traditional metal-oxide supercapacitors, and can stand up to ten thousand charge and discharge cycles without losing capacity.

“Our all-wood supercapacitor is cheap, safe, environmentally friendly and biocompatible,” said Chaoji Chen, first author of the article. “Also, the cycling life is longer and power density is higher than comparable batteries already used in similar applications.”

The work was published last month in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, and was funded by the Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage, a Department of Energy-funded Energy Frontier Research Center, headquartered at the University of Maryland.

All-wood, low tortuosity, aqueous, biodegradable supercapacitors with ultra-high capacitance

dx.doi.org/10.1039/C6EE03716J

Energy Environ. Sci., 2017

Related Articles:
Wood filter removes toxic dye from water
Transparent Wood: Clark School Research in the News
A View Through Wood Shows Futuristic Applications
A Battery Made of Wood?

February 16, 2017


Prev   Next

 

 

Current Headlines

Can Cascading Pools Help Restore the Chesapeake Bay?

Maryland students place third in autonomous drone race

Bhattacharyya awarded NIH Grant to Explore Real-time Neural Decoding for Calcium Imaging

UMD Transportation Experts Awarded $1 Million DOE Grant to Reduce Transportation Energy Use and Emissions

With Engineering Projects, UMD Students Seek to Boost Education Access, Public Health, and Sustainability

Maryland Robotics Center students participate in FAA STEM outreach event

Shoukry, Krishnaprasad receive NSF grant for resilient-by-cognition cyber-physical systems

Maryland Robotics Center sponsors grad student project on robotics in farming

UMD researchers awarded $1M NSF grant to develop new methods to generate single photons for quantum research

NSF funds Shamma, Espy-Wilson for neuromorphic and data-driven speech segregation research

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar