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Croissant making inspires renewable energy solution

October 18, 2019

The art of croissant making has inspired researchers from Queen Mary University of London to find a solution to a sustainable energy problem.

Croissants are made by pressing and folding dough to create a layered pastry. The researchers applied this technique to a dielectric capacitor, which is a device that stores energy like a battery.

By pressing and folding a polymer film capacitor - a capacitor with an insulating plastic film - they were able to store 30 times more energy than the best-performing commercially available dielectric capacitor, biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP).

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, shows that this is the highest energy density ever reported in a polymer film capacitor.

Renewable and sustainable energy sources like solar and wind are intermittent by nature and to make them of wider practical use it is necessary to develop efficient, low-cost and environmentally friendly electric energy storage systems.

Dr Emiliano Bilotti, lead researcher of the study from Queen Mary University of London, said: "Storing energy can be surprisingly tricky and expensive and this is problematic with renewable energy sources which are not constant and rely on nature. With this technique we can store large amounts of renewable energy to be used when the sun is not shining and it is not windy."

Currently, there are three main energy storage options: batteries, electrochemical capacitors and dielectric capacitors.

Dielectric capacitors typically have ultrahigh power density, which makes them suitable for high power and pulse power technologies that require accumulating energy over a period of time and then releasing it very quickly. Examples of this include motor drives, mobile power systems, space?vehicle power systems and electrochemical guns.

However, dielectric capacitors are limited by the low amounts of energy they can currently store. This research study tackles this limitation.

Professor Mike Reece, another author of the study from Queen Mary University of London, said: "This finding promises to have a significant impact on the field of pulse power applications and could produce a step change in the field of dielectric capacitors, so far limited by their low energy storage density."

Expensive and complex synthesis and processing routes are normally necessary to achieve high energy density in polymer film capacitors but this newly developed processing, pressing and folding, is unique for its simplicity, record high energy density and potential to be adopted by industry.
-end-
Notes to editor:
  • Research paper: 'Ultrahigh β-phase content poly(vinylidene fluoride) with relaxor-like ferroelectricity for high energy density capacitors. Nan Meng, Xintong Ren, Giovanni Santagiuliana, Leonardo Ventura, Han Zhang, Jiyue Wu, Haixue Yan, Michael J Reece & Emiliano Bilotti. Nature Communications.
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12391-3
  • For a copy of the paper please contact below
Contact:

Rupert Marquand
PR Officer
Queen Mary University of London
r.marquand@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: 020 7882 3004

About Queen Mary

Queen Mary University of London is a research-intensive university that connects minds worldwide.

A member of the prestigious Russell Group, we work across the humanities and social sciences, medicine and dentistry, and science and engineering, with inspirational teaching directly informed by our world-leading research.

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework we were ranked 5th in the country for the proportion of research outputs that were world-leading or internationally excellent. We have over 25,000 students and offer more than 240 degree programmes. Our reputation for excellent teaching was rewarded with silver in the most recent Teaching Excellence Framework.

Queen Mary has a proud and distinctive history built on four historic institutions stretching back to 1785 and beyond. Common to each of these institutions - the London Hospital Medical College, St Bartholomew's Medical College, Westfield College and Queen Mary College - was the vision to provide hope and opportunity for the less privileged or otherwise under-represented.

Today, Queen Mary University of London remains true to that belief in opening the doors of opportunity for anyone with the potential to succeed and helping to build a future we can all be proud of.

Queen Mary University of London

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