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Power paper

Power paper stores energy

Thin and flexible, this new material may be used in batteries and supercapacitors

Linköping University Thin and flexible, this new material may be used in batteries and supercapacitorsLinköping University

Researchers at Linköping University’s Laboratory of Organic Electronics in Sweden have developed a sheet of paper that stores as much energy as the supercapacitors currently on the market – devices that amass and release energy almost instantaneously. This material could be employed in batteries and fuel cells, equipment that uses hydrogen to produce energy. The material resembles a thin, flexible sheet of paper about 15 centimeters wide and a few millimeters thick. It was obtained by breaking cellulose fibers into microfibers 20 nanometers in diameter. In the laboratory, the researchers placed the fibers in a solution of water and added an electrically charged polymer to coat them. Once coated with the polymer, the microfibers formed tangles that produced an electrical conductor known as an electrolyte. Unlike batteries and supercapacitors, the power paper – as it has been dubbed – is made from simple, cheap materials and does not require the use of dangerous chemicals or heavy metals. The material can be recharged hundreds of times and each charge takes only a few seconds. The study was published in the journal Advanced Science on December 2, 2015. In the future, the material may be used in equipment that stores energy for periods when the supply of wind and solar sources falls short – on calm or cloudy days, for instance – thus helping expand reliance on renewable energy.

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