Search This Blog

Friday, April 24, 2015

Making Batteries Obsolete: Why Tesla's Gigafactory is Doomed To Fail

The future is in capacitors, not batteries. By the time the Tesla Gigafactory is up and running, it will be obsolete.

The future will see capacitors replace batteries everywhere. A hint of what's coming is given by the fact that researchers at UCSD have tripled the capacity of graphene in Charged holes in graphene increase energy storage capacity:

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have discovered a method to increase the amount of electric charge that can be stored in graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, which could increase battery storage capacity.

The research, published in the journal Nano Letters, may provide a better understanding of how to improve the energy storage ability (energy density) of capacitors for potential uses in cars, wind turbines, and solar power. Capacitors charge and discharge very fast (have high power density), so they are useful for quick large bursts of energy, such as in camera flashes, but they store less energy than batteries.

Punching holes in graphene

The industrially viable solution to increasing charge capacity, found in the lab of mechanical engineering professor Prabhakar Bandaru at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD, was to take advantage of defects — holes corresponding to missing carbon atoms — in graphene material.

To do that, the team used argon-ion based plasma processing to bombard graphene samples with positively charged argon ions. That knocked out carbon atoms, leaving behind “holes” containing positive charges, which increased the capacitance of the materials three-fold. These “armchair” and “zigzag” defects are named based on the configurations of the missing carbon atoms.