Paper-based Supercapacitors

University dissertation from Sundsvall : Mid Sweden University

Abstract: The growing market of mobile electronic devices, renewable off-grid energy sources and electric vehicles requires high-performance energy storage devices. Rechargeable batteries are usually the first choice due to their high energy density. However, supercapacitors have a higher power density and longer life-time compared to batteries. For some applications supercapacitors are more suitable than batteries. They can also be used to complement batteries in order to extend a battery's life-time. The use of supercapacitors is, however, still limited due to their high costs. Most commercially available supercapacitors contain expensive electrolytes and costly electrode materials.In this thesis I will present the concept of cost efficient, paper-based supercapacitors. The idea is to produce supercapacitors with low-cost, green materials and inexpensive production processes. We show that supercapacitor electrodes can be produced by coating graphite on paper. Roll-to-roll techniques known from the paper industry can be employed to facilitate an economic large-scale production. We investigated the influence of paper on the supercapacitor's performance and discussed its role as passive component. Furthermore, we used chemically reduced graphite oxide (CRGO) and a CRGO-gold nanoparticle composite to produce electrodes for supercapacitors. The highest specific capacitance was achieved with the CRGO-gold nanoparticle electrodes. However, materials produced by chemical synthesis and intercalation of nanoparticles are too costly for a large-scale production of inexpensive supercapacitor electrodes. Therefore, we introduced the idea of producing graphene and similar nano-sized materials in a high-pressure homogenizer. Layered materials like graphite can be exfoliated when subjected to high shear forces. In order to form mechanical stable electrodes, binders need to be added. Nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC) can be used as binder to improve the mechanical stability of the porous electrodes. Furthermore, NFC can be prepared in a high-pressure homogenizer and we aim to produce both NFC and graphene simultaneously to obtain a NFC-graphene composite. The addition of 10% NFC in ratio to the amount of graphite, increased the supercapacitor's capacitance, enhanced the dispersion stability of homogenized graphite and improved the mechanical stability of graphite electrodes in both dry and wet conditions. Scanning electron microscope images of the electrode's cross section revealed that NFC changed the internal structure of graphite electrodes depending on the type of graphite used. Thus, we discussed the influence of NFC and the electrode structure on the capacitance of supercapacitors.