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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Influence of porosity on charging speed of Polypyrrole supercapacitors Fekri, Niloofar


In the field of energy storage, two main factors are essential for storage devices: the power density and energy density, both of which can be provided by supercapacitors. Supercapacitors offer a power to mass and cycle life greater than batteries and an energy density that is much greater than capacitors, making them appropriate for use in portable electronics, hybrid vehicles, and similar applications. Power to mass and discharge time are still not fast enough, however, for use in, for example flash cameras or cell phones or power quality applications. Charging time and power in these devices are often limited by the rate of ion transport into the electrodes. The hypothesis proposed in this thesis is that making electrodes porous increases their speed and hence power, but may reduce the capacitance at the same time. So in order to investigate the hypothesis various electrodes (e.g. pure polypyrrole (PPy) and its composites (carbon nanofiber (CNF) plus PPy) with varying porosities are made. Techniques used to investigate these samples are Cyclic Voltammetry (CV), Ionic Conductivity (IC) measurements, Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) measurements. Through these techniques, it is found that the time constant reduces significantly (by ~ 1 x10⁴ times) for very porous electrodes as expected from hypothesis, and the capacitance reduces by a small factor (by ~ 7 times) compared to that. Even for least porous samples a huge time constant reduction (by ~ 37 times) compared to pure PPy is achieved with only ~ 2 times reduction in volumetric capacitance. The plausibility of these improvements is checked by analyzing the rate-limiting factors in ion transport and it is found that ionic time constants at very high porosities are not representative of the speed of the full cell. The reason for this is due to solution resistance becoming a rate-limiting factor for porosities more than ~ 50%. In this case, any improvements in speed (power) can be achieved by reducing that resistance. Other methods for further improving the power densities are also suggested and they include reducing the separator and electrode thicknesses for instance.

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