Researchers find way to turn wood into supercapacitors

Researchers in the department of chemistry at Oregon State University say they have found a low-cost, fast and easy way to use cellulose from trees to construct supercapacitors. Cellulose, a key component in plants and trees, is heated in a furnace with ammonia present. The result is nitrogen-doped nanoporous carbon membranes, which form the electrodes of the supercapacitor, and a byproduct of methane.

The carbon membranes are extremely thin, with a very large surface area. According to the researchers, the N-doped nanoporous carbon has more than double the unit area capacitance of conventional activated carbon.

Supercapacitors perform a function similar to batteries in that they are energy storage devices. Although a supercapacitor holds less energy than a battery, according to researcher David Ji at Oregon State University, they deliver higher power. A key difference is that unlike batteries, supercapacitors can be charged and discharged more frequently, with little or no degradation.

Some of the applications for supercapacitors include hybrid gas-electric cars, electronics, and wind and solar power generation and storage.

A big advantage of the cellulose-based supercapacitor would be the relatively green mode of production. More common carbon-based supercapacitors are traditionally made using coal or oil, which are highly polluting.

“The ease, speed and potential of this process is really exciting,” said Ji, an assistant professor of chemistry at OSU College of Science, and lead author on the study in Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society. “For the first time we’ve proven that you can react cellulose with ammonia and create these N-doped nanoporous carbon membranes. . . Not only are there industrial applications, but this opens a whole new scientific area, studying reducing gas agents for carbon activation.”

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • SNC-Lavalin-China agreement could expand market for CANDUs
  • Invest $50 billion in infrastructure over five years or fall further behind: Report
  • Scientists Improve Behavior of Quantum Dots
  • Bombardier takes orders for CSeries at Farnborough
  • Researchers claim breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis
  • Davie shipyard delivers "most complex" vessel ever built in NA
  • Space X Mars plans become feasible: Elon Musk's multi-planet species goal may yet launch
  • Richard Browning invents super human 450 km per hour “Iron Man” flight suit (video)
  • CFB Goose Bay awards $100 million service contract to Serco
  • Ottawa medical device company receives government support to expand production
  • Canada's exports soared in June while imports fell
  • World's building industry told to decarbonize, cut emissions drastically
  • Oil production should grow 33 per cent in Canada by 2030, despite lower oilsands spending
  • SpaceX launches Immarsat 5 F4: continuing the Elon Musk tradition of innovation with commercial payback
  • SNC's Candu Energy signs international agreements
  • Cars with “Nerves”? Self diagnostics and magnetostrictive material may deliver cars with feeling.
  • Lobby groups working hard to convince Obama on Keystone
  • Ontario's food producers missing local growth opportunities: study
  • Ford reveals C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car
  • Andritz to manufacture stator coils for NA hydropower market in Peterborough
Scroll to Top