In microbial fuell cells, the anode material as the medium of electron transfer and as the support for biofilm formation is a key component that determines the effectiveness and efficiency of power generation. Generally, the anode will perform better if the anode material has a greater specific surface area and higher affinity for living bacterial cells. The direct carbonization of low-cost and naturally available materials provides a potential alternative to commercial anodes with high specific surface area. In new work, scientists demonstrate a new procedure to generate novel macroporous carbon prepared from a fibrous loofah sponge.
Researchers in Canada have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve graphite-like charge/discharge behavior in a sodium ion battery anodes through a controlled dilation of the intergraphene spacing in a tailored carbon. They utilized common peat moss as the carbon precursor, tuning the synthesis process to create macroscopically open nanoscale pseudographitic structures that also offers a unique high rate capability and superb charge-discharge cycling stability.
As researchers continue to develop the use of graphene in energy storage devices, other two-dimensional (2D) inorganic materials like 2D transition metal disulfides have attracted extensive scientific attention. Vanadium disulfide few-layered nanosheets have been recently achieved experimentally, and in new work, scientists systematically investigated the adsorption and diffusion of lithium on the recently synthesized vanadium disulfide monolayer in comparison with MoS2 monolayer and graphite.
There is an almost infinite number of mechanical energy sources all around us - basically, anything that moves can be harvested for energy. These environmental energy sources can the very large, like wave power in the oceans, or very small, like rain drops or biomechanical energy from heart beat, breathing, and blood flow. With the increasing use of nanotechnology materials and applications in energy research, scientists are finding more and more ways to tap into these pretty much limitless sources of energy. Self-powered nanotechnology based on piezoelectric nanogenerators aims at powering nanodevices and nanosystems using the energy harvested from the environment in which these systems are suppose to operate.
Going hand in hand with the development of wearable electronic textiles, researchers are also pushing the development of wearable and flexible energy storage to power those e-textiles. Researchers have now developed wearable textile batteries that can be integrated with flexible solar cells and thus be recharged by solar energy. The team found unconventional materials for all of the key battery components and integrated them into a fully wearable battery.
Researchers are working hard to find inexpensive alternatives to platinum catalysts for use in hydrogen fuel cells. Doped carbons were discovered to be a possible alternative to platinum-based materials about five years ago. Researchers have now developed a really simple route to carbon materials that perform almost as well as a commercial platinum/carbon in a key fuel cell reaction. To make these materials, they use gelatin - the same gelatin you'd use to make jelly/jello.
Over the past few years, we have seen an explosion of interest in electronic devices based on paper or textile components. These substrates are attractive because they can impart flexibility and low- cost manufacturing to devices such as transistors, circuits, light-emitting diodes, and batteries. They also can be folded. Researchers now have have shown that paper-folding concepts can be applied to Li-ion batteries in order to realize a device with higher areal energy densities.
Oxygen is an advantageous battery storage material as it is freely available from the air and does not need to be carried with the other battery components. Unlike the lithium-ion batteries used today, lithium-oxygen batteries do not require metal oxide cathodes to produce electrochemical power, instead generating power from reactions with oxygen in the atmosphere. A new class of rechargeable batteries - 'molten air' batteries - suses highly conductive molten electrolytes and very high capacity multiple electron compounds such as carbon and vanadium diboride. Unlike prior rechargeable molten batteries, the molten air battery is not burdened by the weight of the active chargeable cathode material.