August 20, 2008

Polymer Electric Storage Shows Promise

U.S. scientists say they are developing ferroelectric polymer-based capacitors that can deliver power more rapidly than do conventional batteries.

Pennsylvania State University materials scientists said the proliferation of solar, wind and tidal electric generation and the rapid emergence of hybrid electric automobiles is fueling the demand for flexible and reliable high-capacity electrical storage.

"Electrical energy storage is very important for all electrical and electronic systems," said Associate Professor Qing Wang. "Even renewable energy systems like solar cells need somewhere to store excess energy to be used at night."

Wang and his team developed power density tunable polymers and polymer ceramic nanocomposites as electrical store materials for capacitors. Although power conditioning is currently conducted by capacitors, Wang said eventually properly tuned polymer capacitors might replace batteries.

The team that included Wang, postdoctoral fellow Yingying Lu, and graduate students Jason Claude and Junjun Li reported its findings Wednesday in Philadelphia during the 236th national meeting of the American Chemical Society.