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Graphene-based supercapacitor a step closer to commerical reality


August 4, 2013

Monash University researchers have created a compact electrode that uses a liquid electrolyte to maintain space between graphene sheets (Image: Shutterstock)

Monash University researchers have created a compact electrode that uses a liquid electrolyte to maintain space between graphene sheets (Image: Shutterstock)

Graphene-based supercapacitors have already proven the equal of conventional supercapacitors – in the lab. But now researchers at Melbourne’s Monash University claim to have developed of a new scalable and cost-effective technique to engineer graphene-based supercapacitors that brings them a step closer to commercial development.

With their almost indefinite lifespan and ability to recharge in seconds, supercapacitors have tremendous energy-storage potential for everything from portable electronics, to electric vehicles and even large-scale renewable energy plants. But the drawback of existing supercapacitors has been their low energy density of around 5 to 8 Wh/liter, which means they either have to be exceedingly large or recharged frequently.

Professor Dan Li and his team at Monash University’s Department of Materials Engineering has created a graphene-based supercapacitor with an energy density of 60 Wh/liter, which is around 12 times higher than that of commercially available supercapacitors and in the same league as lead-acid batteries. The device also lasts as long as a conventional battery.

To maximize the energy density, the team created a compact electrode from an adaptive graphene gel film they had previously developed. To control the spacing between graphene sheets on the sub-nanometer scale, the team used liquid electrolytes, which are generally used as the conductor in conventional supercapacitors.

Unlike conventional supercapacitors that are generally made of highly porous carbon with unnecessarily large pores and rely on a liquid electrolyte to transport the electrical charge, the liquid electrolyte in Li’s team’s supercapacitor plays a dual role of conducting electricity and also maintaining the minute space between the graphene sheets. This maximizes the density without compromising the supercapcitor’s porosity, they claim.

To create their compact electrode, the researchers used a technique similar to one used in traditional paper making, which they say makes the process cost-effective and easily scalable for industrial applications.

"We have created a macroscopic graphene material that is a step beyond what has been achieved previously. It is almost at the stage of moving from the lab to commercial development," Professor Li said.

The team’s research appears in the journal Science.

Source: Monash University

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Any information about how heavy these will be and how these compare with lithium batteries?


if the device has the same energy density and lifespan as that of Lead-Acid Battery. Then what is so special about this supercapacitor device?

Majed Hosneddine

Close to instant charge and discharge meaning they could buffer a cheaper low C rated battery pack to run say a car. Have a phone or laptop with a few second charge. The energy density is related to size not weight in the article, they would most likely be considerably lighter as there is no lead.

Gary Bonney

Yes, this is the way forward, no question. Capacitors with sufficient energy density are, far and away, the most logical energy storage/release devices for the coming electric world. 5-second recharge times combined with relative safety, low weight and compact form factors is exactly what the real world is looking for.

Much rather have low cost Capacitors than expensive, heavy and volatile L-ion or Lipo batteries.


It charges in seconds not hours.

Brian Maxwell

These capacitors are extremely dangerous as anyone who has short circuited an ordinary electrolytic capacitor.

All the energy released in about a millisecond would cause a massive explosion.

People seem to forget the exponential discharge curve of capacitors making them useless as normal batteries.


This is not for a car or motorbike. But the industrial implication for energy generation efficiency are tremendous.

Gildas Dubois

What decays in a capacitor that would make it only last as long as a regular battery?


If these were used in an all-electric vehicle, could there be multiple alternators installed that would keep these constently charged when driving? Never need to refuel. That would be awesome.


I need this development for my rc airplanes.


Electrical storage medium energy dense enough to be practical for cars is better used as artillery shell filler.

re; Capt'nCrunch Study the second law of thermal dynamics: You can't win, You can't breakeven, and You can't get out of the game.


This would be great for use in Electric Bicycles. Great for third world countries.

I suppose the danger of a quick discharge could be prevented with appropriate fuses/breakers.


re; cucotx

Tiny bio gas engines would be more practical.

re; Majed Hosneddine

No lead no acid.


Graphene super capacitors are starting to look like the real deal. Multiple labs, multiple people using the material in different ways are getting amazing results. Unlike the ESTOR fiasco. Take a look, at another lab:


This is the stuff that changes reality in the same way cars, personal computers, the Internet and the IPhone did. We live In amazing times....


Graphine Super Capacitors could revolutionise battery technology. Having the same or better Energy density of a lead acid battery with a weight similar to or better than a Lithium ion battery and a power density of a Capacitor yet still be biodegradable is an incredible step to solving the worlds Energy problems, imagine being able to charge your phone or laptop in minutes or less. The possibilities are endless.

Anton Cordell

This is really good news but, I'm not holding my breath. Might be a good decade before we actually see practical applications for this. One technology I've been waiting for is the atomic battery.

Jedrick Parejo
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