London, September 18 : Electrical cars may soon have their batteries replaced by ultracapacitors that can store much higher amounts of energy, thanks to a new approach developed by Chinese researchers.
Hao Zhang at the Research Institute of Chemical Defence, and research collaborators from Peking University in Beijing say that this purpose can be served by creating nanoscale meadows of fuzzy flowers of manganese oxide (MnO), a material with a much greater capacity for ions than activated carbon.
In model created by the researchers, each flower attaches to at least two of the blades of grass that act like electron superhighways, forming strong electrical connections to the flowers.
The usually resistant MnO can be charged up to attract the ions it can store so well, and consequently the nano-meadow performs 10 times better than MnO alone.
Zhang says that it can store twice as much charge as the carbon-based electrodes in existing ultracapacitors.
The researcher says that the nanomeadow's complex structure is resistant to the mechanical degradation that reduces the performance of ultracapacitors over time.
The energy capacity of the new device drops by just three per cent after 20,000 charge and discharge cycles, better than other high-capacity designs.
The new approach has been appreciated by Mike Barnes of the University of Manchester, UK, who feels that it may help improve ultracapacitor performance.
He, however, points out that a design ready for market needs to be even more resistant to physical degradation, reports New Scientist magazine.
A research paper describing this work has been published in the journal Nano Letters.