Nanotech ultracapacitors from MIT

As a battery engineer’s daughter, I appreciate how hard it is to make a better battery. Now Technology Review reports that some MIT researchers are taking a different approach: make a better capacitor. Excerpts:

“The new technology, developed at MIT’s Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems, should improve ultracapacitors by swapping in carbon nanotubes, thereby greatly increasing the surface area of electrodes and the ability to store energy…

“Ultracapacitors could allow laptops and cell phones to be charged in a minute. And unlike laptop batteries, which start losing their ability to hold a charge after a year or two, they could still be going strong long after the device is obsolete. ‘Theoretically, there’s no process that would cause the [ultracapacitor] to need to be replaced,’ says professor John Kassakian, another of the researchers.”

This last point is critical from an environmental point of view. Many of today’s batteries are full of toxic materials (e.g., lead) — that’s why we have to dispose of them so carefully today. So: go, MIT! —Christine (an alumna)

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