It sounds like it’s going to be quite a while until we can supercharge our cell phones in under 30 seconds.
Last month, we wrote about how 18-year-old Eesha Khare won a $50,000 prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her supercapacitor energy storage device. The device could supposedly fit inside a cell phone and charge them in under 30 seconds, according to Intel’s official press release.
But it turns out that’s not entirely true.
Khare did indeed develop an energy storage device, called a supercapacitor, that can be charged very quickly. During Khare’s demonstration at the science fair, she showed how the supercapacitor could power an LED device after charging the device for 20 seconds.
But for the time being, it’s just not practical to use supercapacitors to power cell phones, Dr. Yat Li told Business Insider via email. In fact, Khare never even made that claim in the first place, Dr. Li says.
Dr. Li is an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California Santa Cruz, and was Khare’s mentor and advisor last summer.
The major drawback of the supercapacitor as it stands now, Dr. Li explains, is that the energy density within it is much lower than in standard Lithium-ion batteries used in cell phones, meaning supercapacitors store less energy than standard batteries when used in the same-sized devices.
For it to work right now, the device Khare demonstrated would need to be much larger, and therefore much heavier. That’s why one of the goals in current supercapacitor research is to further improve its energy density.
In short, supercharging your cell phone with a supercapacitor may be possible in the future, but just not right now.
We have reached out to Intel and update this story if we hear back. Though, Dr. Li tells us Khare has notified Intel of the issue.
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