Carbon-nanotube-based electrochemical double-layer capacitor technologies for spaceflight applications
Electrochemical double-layer capacitors, or supercapacitors, have tremendous potential as high-power energy sources for use in low-weight hybrid systems for space exploration. Electrodes based on single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) offer exceptional power and energy performance due to the high surface area, high conductivity, and the ability to functionalize the SWCNTs to optimize capacitor properties. This paper will report on the preparation of electrochemical capacitors incorporating SWCNT electrodes and their performance compared with existing commercial technology. Preliminary results indicate that substantial increases in power and energy density are possible. The effects of nanotube growth and processing methods on electrochemical capacitor performance is also presented. The compatibility of different SWCNTs and electrolytes was studied by varying the type of electrolyte ions that accumulate on the high-surface-area electrodes.