In recent years, wood has emerged as a new source of innovation for several research areas, including energy storage. One example are the new lignin-derived carbon supercapacitors produced by Imperial College London and University College London.
The research group has made new electrodes for electricity storage from waste from the paper industry. As explained in the article in Advanced Science, by using lignin in place of expensive graphene, researchers have created a structure lighter and more compact than current models, without decreasing efficiency.
The technique developed employs electrospun lignin-derived carbon nanofiber mats, compressed together into a dense and compact structure that, however, retains the porosity of the individual fibres that store the electrical charge. It is an alternative based on a sustainable, low-cost biological material able to store more energy per unit volume than many other expensive alternatives. These features make this technology particularly advantageous for the automotive sector, where space and cost optimisation is crucial. The researchers say that this could be a turning point for existing supercapacitor technology, providing a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to current models.