In a surprise twist, applying thin, nanoscale layers of water to existing material may be the latest solution to efficient storage and distribution of energy, according to leading researchers at the North Carolina State University. This ground-breaking discovery has exciting implications for future development into improving products that rely on sustainable energy.

the layered material charged more efficiently during shorter charging periods

Pseudocapacitance has been around for decades, but recent comparisons between the charging capabilities of crystalline tungsten oxide and crystalline tungsten oxide hydrate have revealed exciting findings. The regular material (crystalline tungsten oxide) performed better when charged for 10 minutes, whereas the layered material performed better when charged for a mere 12 seconds. In other words, the layered material charged more efficiently during shorter charging periods.

The lead author of the paper and Ph.D. student at NCSU, James Mitchell, explains that “the goal for many energy storage researchers is to create technologies that have the high energy density of batteries and the high power of capacitors.” Mitchell believes that their findings could help develop technologies to make this possible.

How Water Can Change Energy Efficiency

A graphic showing water and renewable energy for efficiency.

This exciting new discovery has gained a lot of attention – and for good reason. Society has become increasingly focused on the development of sustainable clean energy and efficient energy use. Yet, an inability to adequately compete with our current energy systems have prevented these attempts from becoming popular amongst the public. Though their work is at experimental stages, this has huge implications for future development of our personal electronics.

Optimizing Clean Energy

Faster storage creates an opportunity for flexible and reliable grid systems for sustainable energy, as well as better batteries and upgraded electronic devices. These are all important steps for improving current methods and products promoted by clean-energy users.

The importance of this discovery is evident in the amount of competition arising amongst the sustainable energy field. The findings of Mitchell and his colleagues provides a bold glance at an energy-efficient method that could encourage the optimization of cleaner energy sources.