New research has developed technology which could revolutionise the capabilities of appliances that have previously relied on battery power to work.

The research conducted by the UK’s University of Surrey and Augmented Optics Ltd, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, looks at the possibility of recharging a mobile phone, laptop or other mobile device in just a few seconds using very high energy density supercapacitors.

Jim Heathcote, chief executive of both Augmented Optics Ltd and Supercapacitor Materials Ltd, said: “It is a privilege to work with the teams from the University of Surrey and the University of Bristol. The test results from the new polymers suggest that extremely high energy density supercapacitors could be constructed in the very new future.”

Supercapacitors, an alternative power source to batteries, store energy using electrodes and electrolytes and both charge and deliver energy quickly, unlike conventional batteries which do so in a much slower, more sustained way.

They have the ability to charge and discharge rapidly over very large numbers of cycles. However, because of their poor energy density per kilogramme (approximately just one twentieth of existing battery technology), they have, until now, been unable to compete with conventional battery energy storage in many applications.

Apparently, the technology could have a seismic impact across a number of industries, including marine, transport, aerospace, energy generation and household applications.

The researchers are now actively seeking commercial partners in order to supply polymers and offer assistance to build these high energy density storage devices.

By Anne-Marie Causer