As the electrification revolution is underway to combat climate change, one technical hurdle limits the progress, namely the ability to store large amount of electrical energy. Even though there has been a huge improvement in energy density for batteries in the last decade, it is still not enough to provide adequate power to weight-sensitive applications aerospace applications. There is significant interest in developing breakthrough technologies that can improve the energy density of a system as this is one of the key to realizing the vision of widespread commercialization of electric propulsion-based aircrafts. Structural supercapacitors based on multifunctional composite laminates can alleviate this technical hurdle by using part of the structure to store additional energy.
This SBIR Phase II project will build on the success of Phase I effort where a novel solid polymer electrolyte (SPE) was developed using an ionic polymer and a nano-scale filler. This SPE posses excellent room temperature ionic conductivity and mechanical integrity required for developing structural supercapacitors. The Phase I effort demonstrated that the developed SPE, when used as matrix material, can be utilized to fabricate carbon-fiber-composite-based structural supercapacitor. In Phase II, this structural supercapacitor design will be improved to develop a structural supercapacitor system with superior energy density and specific modulus. The research effort will be governed by the challenge of achieving a multifunctional efficiency value of greater than unity that is required for achieving a mass-saving design. If successful, this Phase II effort will provide a key enabling technology for electrified aircrafts.