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Effect of electrode porosity and nature of electrolyte on performance of double layer electrochemical capacitors. A study on template carbons and room temperature ionic liquids


An increasing demand for highly effective energy storage devices has stimulated extensive research on electrochemical capacitors (ECs), most of which are based on activated carbon electrodes. Such devices are advantageous in terms of high-density energy storage due to the developed surface area and pore volume of carbon materials.

Based on knowledge available today, we propose a new approach to improving both of the main constituents of ECs, an electrolyte and porous electrode. We suggest an extensive use o f a new type of electrolyte such as room temperature ionic liquids. They are organic salts, which are liquid at ambient conditions and entirely composed of ions.

A significant advantage of ionic liquids is the high capacity, comparable to that for solution s of organic salts, and also the possibility to store high energy due to a broader practical electrochemical stability window.

The solvent of common electrolytes interacts with ions and with carbon surface, and such effect on the ECs performance is mostly unclear. Ionic liquids allow one to eliminate this disadvantage, and to elucidate the effect of electrolyte ions sizes.

On the other hand, it is important to tailor the pore size distribution in the electrode material to maximize the specific capacitance. Common activated carbons have a very broad pore size distribution, and cannot be used to investigate these effects.

The window of opportunity opens in the template carbonization method whereby the replicas or carbon copies of the porous structure can be obtained. The method enables tailoring the pore sizes using various templates as well as various organic precursors.

By combining template carbons and ionic liquids, we expect to deepen understanding of pore behaviour in activated carbons and improve designing of the EC systems. Finally, using this knowledge, we will evaluate systems more oriented to applications, with commercially available carbons and organic electrolytes involved.

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