Carbon Nanotube Based Textiles for Energy Storage Applications

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

Addressing energy storage system economics, technical performance, and design issues requires advanced materials research and development. Material selection will play an essential role in making storage technologies affordable, efficient, and reliable options for tackling the increasing demand for energy and its generation via renewables-based sources.

Current battery technology cannot compete with energy densities associated with existing sources such as petrol. In order to compete in the market with petrol-based vehicles, the energy density of batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) will have to greatly improve to enable long-range distance EVs widely affordable. Moreover, despite portable electronic devices becoming increasingly small and flexible, the energy management components tend to lag behind the other components when it comes to performance at small size and high flexibility. Another application area that requires innovative energy storage technologies is for military applications. Batteries integrated into textiles could turn military uniforms into "smart fabrics" providing uniforms with a single power source to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of military operations.

Thus, the research outlined in the proposal will be focused on advancing the science and technology for multifunctional carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles for energy storage applications. Particular focus will be placed on the optimization of the cathode structure of Lithium-air (Li-air) batteries and the development of all-textile flexible electrochemical double layer supercapacitor (SC). The novel two- and three-dimensional (2D and 3D) textiles developed during this project will be based on CNT fibers and yarns made by a wet-spinning process and a dry-spinning process respectively. Fibers will be plied, twisted and textured to form several geometries with a wide range of mechanical outcomes. Twisting fibers into yarns and then knitting or weaving the yarns into a fabric will facilitate the formation of well defined porous structures with versatile porosity and ultra-high specific surface area providing a highly conductive, low density scaffold for energy storage. The gained understanding and resulting improvements in device performance could facilitate diverse applications of CNTs: electronic textiles that store energy and fibres having unrivalled toughness. When coupled with an inexpensive process for CNT synthesis, a practical process for making continuous, high performance CNT fibres is likely to result in important new products for an aging fibre industry.

Before Li-air batteries can be realized as high-performance, commercially viable products there are still numerous scientific and technical challenges that must be overcome. Considerable difficulties are faced in preparing structures for the precipitation of lithium peroxide at the cathode in the discharge process. If the cathode air electrode is fully blocked, the O2 from the atmosphere cannot be reduced which will prevent battery operation. One milestone for this proposal is to develop and fabricate new nanostructured air cathodes consisting of hierarchical arrangement of CNT fibers in a textile form so as to optimize transport of all reactants to the active catalyst surfaces and provide appropriate space for solid lithium oxide products.

It is also anticipated that the project will substantially enhance the energy/power densities of SCs. Although SCs are already used in many fields, more lightweight, compact and mechanically flexible energy storage devices with greater energy densities are required for a significant number of applications from wearable energy that could be incorporated into garments to space applications.

Planned Impact

As fuel prices continue to rise, electrification of transportation is increasingly important. This importance highlights the need for improved energy storage solutions with high performance in order to meet consumer and manufacturer demands. One answer is found in Li-air batteries and supercapacitors (SCs). It is expected that such new innovations will help overcome manufacturer and consumer concerns regarding reliability and seamless supply and further accelerate the adoption of storage based systems such as electric vehicles (EV). However, as IBM says (leader in the development of Lithium-air batteries): "You'll have to be patient if you want to get your hands on a long-range EV powered with lithium-air batteries. We won't see these being sold in a showroom this decade, but if the science and engineering hurdles are cleared, they could be on the streets between 2020 and 2030".

The main beneficiary of knowledge arising from energy storage research is anticipated to be society. Energy storage in the form of batteries is currently only used on a small scale for propulsion of EVs. For many, energy storage technology is associated with lead acid batteries and regarded as a mature science, and has been so since the start of the 20th Century with little major development since. Major societal benefits could result from the development of advanced energy storage devices which meet the power source criteria for larger populations of practical EVs. The shift from a petroleum fuel base for urban vehicles to electric power generated centrally from coal and/or nuclear fuel, and the higher efficiency of EVs in urban driving, offer potential for the displacement of petroleum resources and consequentially the decrease of urban air and noise pollution.

Dispersed energy storage in utility systems would defer or eliminate the need for the existing power supply infrastructure. In much the same way that mobile phones have obviated the need for developing countries to rely on a 1G infrastructure, energy storage as part of a distributed power network has the same potential. Modern industrial societies depend vitally on storage of very large amounts of energy, primarily in the form of fossil fuels. The multiplicity and complexity of energy dependent functions and services in this type of society open up broad opportunities and potential benefits from storage of energy in new forms.
The military will hugely benefit from the proposed research. Batteries integrated into textiles used in clothing (as part of the battery-less soldier concept) to materials integrated into vehicles would replace heavier conventional batteries improvine the efficiency and effectiveness of military operations.

The UK strives toward a knowledge-based economy. The success of this proposal will accomplish extremely important goals, extending the current state of knowledge in the area where the UK has the potential to be at the forefront. The topics proposed constitute one of the most exciting and promising challenges of the nanotechnology scene at the moment which is to provide dramatic increases in energy storage capacity. Success of this proposal would give the possibility for the creation of next-generation materials possessing defined features to tailor energy storage devices to suit the required industrial and societal applications. Therefore, if successful, this project would help position the UK as a leader in researchable battery manufacturing and SCs. Currently, the UK manufactures only a small percentage of all researchable batteries and SCs, with China and the US being at the forefront of the supply chain.

The research will strive towards producing 'proof-of-concept' demonstrators on new higher-risk concepts, as well as prototyping new technology concepts particularly as the project is closely aligned to the needs of my industrial collaborators.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Two types of conducting fibers were successfully fabricated and thoroughly characterised as described in the objective 1 of the proposal. The fibres made, especially the ones containing polymer, have been significantly advanced. Their properties including conductivity, strength, and porosity have been significantly improved which is a key to the high performance of batteries and supercapacitors. The fibers were then successfully incorporated into 2D textiles using weaving and knitting technology. So far 3 types of textile patterns were used to fabricate the materials (plain weave, satin weave and a knitted pattern) and a 3D knitted textile has also been constructed. The textiles constructed can be as small as 0.5 cm2 , and as large as 20cm2, and can be incorporated woven into existing fabrics or made free standing.
In this work, a new type of apparatus has been designed and built in-house to continuously fabricate tens of meters of fibers and combine them into higher-order yarn structures and then into textiles. This type of apparatus can be successfully transferred to industry in the future, in order to produce textile electrodes on an industrial scale.
To my knowledge, such textiles for electronic applications, made only from carbon nanotube (CNT) fibers and yarns without the need for supporting cellulose or cotton fabric, have not been previously reported in the literature. As expected, the textiles constructed, possess well defined structures with versatile porosity and ultra-high specific surface area.
All textile-based flexible supercapacitors were successfully fabricated as described in the proposal, and as anticipated, these devices provide significantly higher power densities compared to existing supercapacitors made using other textile based approaches. This work will soon be disseminated via scientific publications and press releases.
The work conducted on lithium air batteries is still ongoing as the electrodes structures as well as electrode/electrolyte constructs require further advancements to achieve energy storage capabilities close to the theoretical predictions. We are preparing a proposal to obtain more funding for this ongoing work. Although we have not been able to achieve a working proof-of-concept lithium air battery yet, but the fundamental understanding gained though this work will enable to enhance the batteries performance in near future.
Exploitation Route The research so far facilitated the development of a network of international collaborators with expertise in materials science and energy storage. All collaborators significantly benefited from the outcomes of the research project by gaining additional knowledge. The developed technology to fabricate textile electrodes can be easily commercialised, and we are working with an industrial partner to further advance the technology. Because the work is still on-going (although additional funding is not in place yet), other researchers from the university significantly benefited, and are continuing to benefit from the research findings. They are extending their knowledge regarding the appropriate requirements for electrode structures. PhD students from the University of Surrey have also benefitted and will further benefit from the research outcomes. They are participating in regular seminars on energy storage that gives them the opportunity to acquire a broad range of skills that are of great value in their future careers.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Transport

 
Description The development of functional textiles and related materials carried out during the fellowship, have immediately led to the significant impact in various research, industrial and public areas. For example, the research published between 2014-2018 in five high impact factor journals (including Advanced Functional Materials, Scientific reports and Nanoscale) related to the development of transparent electrodes for touch screen applications was featured on the front cover and in over 20 science-related websites internationally (e.g. forbes.com) and in newspapers (e.g. the Daily Mail and Daily Express).The technological advancements include first time fabrication of a fully operating five inch multi-touch highly-pixelated silver nanowire (AgNW) sensor with comparable performance to one based on ITO typically used in smart phone technology. The publication related to graphene-based bodily motion sensors in a collaboration with an international partner has already been cited over 200 times and was featured widely in news outlets, including the BBC radio, The Irish Times, The Daily Mail. Therefore disseminating the information through press release and mass media, enabled to efficiently reach scientific audience as well as general public. Although huge progress has been made on the development of textiles for energy storage applications, the findings have not made a significant economic and societal impact yet. However the information was widely disseminated via local methods by presenting the research at local schools, seminars and public events organised locally by the university and larger events organised externally with the aim to reach general public. The developed innovative carbon nanotube based textiles for batteries and supercapacitors have also immediately found applications in tissue engineering. This work was possible via additional funding obtained though EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) scheme. The work was disseminated through local press release and a scientific publication. This research is ongoing but have already impacted medical and veterinary practitioners, as this technology could be used for both human and animal rehabilitation, for bone repair post tumour resection, and re-establishing tissue and bone growth following amputation of limbs. This emerging approach can help to reduce and perhaps replace animal testing in near future. It is anticipated that the research findings related to the wearable textiles for advanced energy storage devices will bring large economical and societal impact in near future since one of the key nanotechnology companies has already expressed interest in the commercial development of textile based electrodes for energy storage and will facilitate efforts to commercialize project advances. Patent application is being prepared and will be submitted in the next couple of months. From the academic point of view, the research conducted has already significantly contributed to advancing fundamental understanding of structural features of electrodes to enhance energy storage capabilities of such devices, and led to the submission of grant proposal for additional funding.
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Experimental Methods for Condensed Matter Workshop
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact It provided the training on modern analytical techniques for 16 PhD students and post-docs from the universities associated with the South East Physics Network
 
Description ITN Network workshop - grant writing
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The "Enabling Excellence" Training Workshop was provided to PhD students involved with the European Training Network (ETN) Enabling Excellence scheme. I provided the training to students on writing fellowship applications based on my own experience with the EPSRC postdoctoral fellowship application process. It enabled students to improve their writing skills, and helped them understand how to successfully write a fellowship application.
URL https://eetraining.wordpress.com/the-student-training/training-workshop-2018/
 
Description SEPnet GRADnet Physics Lecture Programme
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact As part of the SEPnet GRADnet Physics Lecture Programme a "Soft Matter Tools" lecture via video-conference was given to PhD students from the University of Surrey, Queen Mary University and the University of Southampton. It provided a coordinated and bespoke skills training for PhD students from participating universities. Since the lecture has also been recorded, it enables other students to participate in such skills training in the future.
URL http://www.sepnet.ac.uk/study/GRADnet_Videoconference_Schedule.html
 
Description EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account 2014
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2014 
End 04/2015
 
Description EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account 2016
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 07/2016
 
Description CSIC 
Organisation Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
Department Institute of Carboquímica
Country Spain 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution My contribution to this collaboration is my expertise in energy storage, as well as electro-chemical testing of materials. I also characterized the materials (carbon nanotube based fibers and graphene oxide sensors) provided by the collaborator using atomic force microscope.
Collaborator Contribution The collaborator from ICB-CSIC, Spain is a leading expert in wet-spinning of carbon nanotube fibers. His extensive expertise in this area will help me to achieve the goal of successfully fabricating ultra strong fibers to be integrated into textiles. Fabricating such fibers is one of the main objectives of the fellowship.
Impact doi:10.1016/j.talanta.2015.10.069
Start Year 2014
 
Description Deakin University - Joe Razal 
Organisation Deakin University
Department Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN)
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution expertise in novel nanomaterials
Collaborator Contribution Provided me with the expertise of novel methods of wet-spinning of fibres containing graphene as well as fibre samples for research purposes
Impact 10.1039/C6NR09482A
Start Year 2016
 
Description NPL 
Organisation National Physical Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My contribution to this collaboration is my expertise in fabrication of textile electrodes for energy storage.
Collaborator Contribution The Collaborator from National Physical Laboratory is an electrochemist/material scientist with research interests in fuel cells, corrosion and electrochemical testing providing me with his expertise as well as giving me access to the equipment required for the electrochemical characterisation and evaluation of batteries and supercapacitors fabricated at Surrey.
Impact - Extensive electrochemical expertise of this collaborator enabled huge progress in the design of textile electrodes for energy storage
Start Year 2013
 
Description Rice University 
Organisation Rice University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My contribution to this collaboration is my expertise in energy storage, as well as electrochemical testing of materials provided by the collaborator. The main objective of this collaboration is to investigate if the materials given by the collaborator could find applications in energy storage.
Collaborator Contribution Rice University provided me with highly conducting acid spun carbon nanotube fibres that has been used to construct porous textile electrodes for batteries and supercapacitors - which is the main objective of the fellowship.
Impact New type of fibres to construct textiles has been provided by this collaborator. As a result additional options for the design of new textile electrodes for energy storage became possible.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Trinity College Dublin 
Organisation Trinity College Dublin
Department School of Physics
Country Ireland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I characterized the material provided by the collaborator using Kelvin Force Probe Microscopy.
Collaborator Contribution The collaboration resulted in the article being published in high impact factor journal.
Impact DOI: 10.1021/nn503454h
Start Year 2014
 
Description UTD Dallas 
Organisation University of Texas at Dallas
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My contribution to this collaboration is my expertise in energy storage, as well as electrochemical testing of materials that has been sent by the collaborator. The main objective of this collaboration is to investigate if the materials provided by the collaborator can find applications in energy storage.
Collaborator Contribution This is the key collaborator on this project. They are continuously supplying me with multi-wall carbon nanotube forests that are used to dry-spin carbon nanotube yarns. Such yarns are then incorporated into textile structures for electrodes for batteries and supercapacitors.
Impact APS Meeting 2015
Start Year 2013
 
Description Universidad de Zaragoza 
Organisation University of Zaragoza
Department Department of Physical Chemistry
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I characterized bio-materials (peptides and liposomes) using Atomic force microscopy, Kelvin Force probe microscopy, Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Dynamic Mechanical Analysis that were fabricated and provided by the collaborator
Collaborator Contribution This collaboration resulted in the article being published in a highly regarded scientific journal with two more manuscript being prepared for publication. Two Spanish patent applications were also submitted .
Impact DOI: 10.1021/acsami.5b10077, 10.1039/C6NR09482A
Start Year 2015
 
Title Material Comprising Oligoglycine Tectomers And Nanowires 
Description Conducting electrodes comprised of silver nanowires and biological peptides called "tectomers" for applications ranging from transparent electrodes for touch screen applications to pH sensors 
IP Reference WO2017103317 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2016
Licensed No
Impact We are in a progress of forming a spin out company to commercialize this technology
 
Title 3D textile scaffold for cancer research 
Description Biocompatible Graphene oxide based fibres functionalised with 2D peptide assemblies as two- and three-dimensional scaffolds to tissue engineer tumour models for studying ex vivo the tumour development and response to treatment. 
Type Therapeutic Intervention - Radiotherapy
Current Stage Of Development Initial development
Year Development Stage Completed 2017
Development Status Actively seeking support
Impact it is still under the development 
 
Title Drug delivery paper 
Description Novel biocompatible delivery system for hydrophobic therapeutic anticancer drugs Two-dimensional oligoglycine assemblies act as efficient, pH responsive nanocarriers. The pH-controlled rapid and reversible assembly and disassembly of oligoglycine has been used for the controlled loading and release of the anticancer drug and fluorescent probe coralyne. 
Type Therapeutic Intervention - Drug
Current Stage Of Development Initial development
Year Development Stage Completed 2016
Development Status Actively seeking support
Impact This drug delivery system is still under the development therefore no impact yet, but we are actively seeking funding for the development of this product that can b used in clinical trials. 
 
Title Novel silver nanowire transparent electrodes 
Description Novel silver nanowire based transparent electrode material was developed and integrated into fully working device for the replacement of indium tin oxide electrodes 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact the electrode that have been developed can be used for novel flexible electronics it provides novel technological advances and can revolutionize the electronics industry 
URL http://www.materialstoday.com/nanomaterials/news/silver-nanowires-display-ito-replacement/
 
Description APS Meeting 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The work that was done in collaboration with UTD Dallas was presented by my collaborator at the APS March Meeting 2015 in San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR15/Content/2876
 
Description Collaborative visit at ICB-CSIC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact 4 scientists attended the collaborative meeting in ICB-CSIC in Zaragoza (2 from the University of Surrey and 2 from the ICB Institute). This was a very successful brainstorming meeting that generated number of new ideas of how to improve textile electrodes for energy storage applications.

During this collaborative meeting, a clear collaboration between both organisations has been successfully established.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description IAA project - interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I have been interviewed by a University journalist and talked about our EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account funding related to the project on Carbon nanotube based textiles for tissue regeneration in animal patients
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.surrey.ac.uk/business/services/impactaccelerationaccount/publications/helping_animals_to_...
 
Description Interview - recent publication 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I was interviewed by a University journalist. The interview was related to our recent advances in fabricating cheap and flexible transparent electrodes as a replacement for Indium Tin Oxide electrodes currently used in the electronic industry. The research was published in Advanced Functional Materials. After the press release the findings were featured on many internationally recognized scientific websites such as forbes, science daily.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.surrey.ac.uk/features/research-reveals-how-graphene-can-boost-touchscreen-flexibility
 
Description IoP talk 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 95 members of the public attended the presentation. Although the main topic of the presentation was touch screen technology, the talk also covered the most recent advances made on textiles for energy storage and tissue engineering. This presentation initiated a lot of discussions, and sparked increased interest in the subject. Another similar public engagement event - more focused on textiles for energy storage is planned for next year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.events.iop.org/e/smartphones-the-past-present-and-future-of-touch-bfba67d2b79f4466ba7e50...
 
Description NanoteC conference - Dubai 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 20 scientists attended my talk. Due to the high interest in the results presented there was a fruitful discussion and questions afterwards.

New scientific collaborations have been established
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description NanoteC14 Conference - Brussels 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact 50 scientists attended a talk that resulted in good feedback from the audience and number of discussions about potential future collaborations.

New potential future international collaborations have been recognised
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description NanoteC15 conference - Oxford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I gave a talk for 100 conference participants on graphene-based optical sensing devices. This activity resulted in potential future collaborations with the industry sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Physics Colloqium (Surrey) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 50 academics attended the presentation which was aimed to provide a broader view of my current research . This presentation enabled the scientific discussions afterwards and led to new interdisciplinary and inter faculty collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Seeing the Unseen 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This event was attended by around 100 people including general public and school pupils. We had an interactive stand where we talked about our research activities currently taking place. There was an enormous public interest, and therefore a lot of discussions have taken place.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.surrey.ac.uk/events/20171031-seeing-unseen-schools-event-0
 
Description Seminar at University of Malaga 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact I have been asked to give an invited seminar at the University of Malaga to the scientific community consisting of scientists and PhD students to share information about my current research and to assess potential future collaborations. This seminar sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

Such visit resulted in high interest in my current research providing strong basis for future collaborative research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description school talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Presentation was given in a local school to disseminate our latest findings. Over 20 students attended the presentation, the students were very engaged afterwards, and asked large number of questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017