A pair of Stanford scientists have developed a mathematical model to improve high-power designs for electrical storage devices.
Co-authors Daniel Tartakovsky, professor of energy resources engineering, and Xuan Zhang, Tartakovsky’s former Ph.D. student, published their study in Applied Physics Letters this month. The paper describes a mathematical model to design new material for cheaper and more efficient energy storage options.
“Nanoporous” materials used for energy storage derive their special properties from microscopic holes. The traditional approach to developing new nanoporous materials involves trial and error as researchers experiment with varied silicon arrangements and sizes of molds. The process is time-intensive and marked by uncertain results.
Tartakovsky and Zhang’s research can be applied to design new materials.
“We developed a model that would allow materials chemists to know what to expect in terms of performance if the grains are arranged in a certain way, without going through these experiments,” Tartakovsky told Stanford News. “This framework also shows that if you arrange your grains like the model suggests, then you will get the maximum performance.”
Implementation of the new energy storage materials will likely lead to improved supercapacitors, a type of energy storage that could replace rechargeable batteries in cellphones and electric vehicles. The increased performance could reduce carbon emissions in the transportation and electricity sectors.
“Current batteries and other storage devices are a major bottleneck for transition to clean energy,” Tartakovsky said. “There are many people working on this, but this is a new approach to looking at the problem.”
Tartakovsky said he hopes his model is applied both inside and beyond the energy industry; fields that rely on the use of nanoporous materials include neuroscience, urban development and medicine.
Contact Kim Ngo at kimanh ‘at’ stanford.edu.