This technology could replace batteries in phones, laptops and cars

Super-capacitors to the rescue

Fed up with your smartphone battery’s lack of longevity? Or any other piece of hardware's, for that matter? The good news is that the humble battery as we know it could be replaced by high-energy density super-capacitors, following a technological leap with the latter.

In what is described as ground-breaking research, the University of Surrey and Augmented Optics, in conjunction with Bristol University, have made a breakthrough and discovered fresh materials that could lead to the production of super-capacitors a thousand times more powerful (and potentially up to 10,000 times) than to existing tech.

And the use of these, rather than conventional batteries in phones, tablets, laptops and so forth could mean these devices can be charged up in a matter of seconds.

This isn’t merely about gadgets – it could have ramifications across the entire energy industry, and in the sphere of transport in terms of electric aircraft and cars.

Electric cars could be ‘refuelled’ almost as quickly as their petrol counterparts, or at least in a matter of minutes, as opposed to six to eight hours or so – and with greater capacity as well their range would be considerably extended.

Praise the polymers 

Super-capacitors are capable of rapid charging, but currently aren’t a viable alternative due to the fact that they have a very poor energy density compared to batteries. But the discovery of these new polymers changes all that.

Jim Heathcote, Chief Executive of Augmented Optics and its subsidiary Supercapacitor Materials, commented: “The test results from the new polymers suggest that extremely high-energy density supercapacitors could be constructed in the very near future.

“We are now actively seeking commercial partners in order to supply our polymers and offer assistance to build these ultra high-energy density storage devices.”

Not only is this a big breakthrough, but the use of the phrase ‘very near future’ is also exciting in itself, as usually the scientists and researchers behind these sorts of projects are talking about much longer-term developments.

Of course, the initial prototype being built is one thing, and widespread commercial availability another, but these are promising-sounding noises.