New paper published on hydrogel-based flexible energy storage in Advanced Materials Interfaces. Our study showcases a novel electrolyte system that stands out due to its flexibility, electroactivity, and improved sustainability.
We initiated our research by electropolymerizing polypyrrole (PPy) nanotubes in graphite-thread electrodes, utilizing methyl orange templates in an acidic medium. This process successfully enhanced the conductivity, while maintaining the flexibility of the electrodes, a crucial component in developing versatile energy storage systems. We built flexible devices using hydrogel as an electrolyte prepared from poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA)/sodium alginate (SA). This hydrogel was obtained through freeze-thawing and swelling with ionic solutions. The result was a homogenous and porous hydrogel matrix, demonstrating high conductivity of 3.6 mS/cm as-prepared and the ability of self-healing.
What sets this material apart is its adaptability. The material’s electrochemical and mechanical properties depend on the swollen electrolyte used, allowing its integration with the modified graphite-thread electrodes. This flexibility led us to develop a quasi-solid electrochemical energy storage device, with a specific capacitance value of 66 F/g at 0.5 A/g. The choice of less environmentally friendly acid electrolyte HNO3 yielded a higher capacitance in the range of 100 F/g. These attributes relied on the liquid phase in the hydrogel matrix produced from biodegradable polymers.
We thank our collaborators who were instrumental in this research project. Special acknowledgment to our esteemed colleagues from the Departamento de Química, Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil: Andrei Elias Deller, Izabel C. Riegel-Vidotti, and Marcio Vidotti. On our team, we are grateful for the contributions of Ph.D. student Jean Gustavo De Andrade Ruthes, our postdoc and Humboldt-Fellow Emmanuel Pameté.