Researcher designs next-gen capacitor

With $2.25 million from the federal government, Gerhard Welsch is getting the opportunity to turn his not-so-new ideas into reality – and he has the rise of electric vehicles to thank for it.

For a decade the professor of materials science and engineering at Case Western University has been toiling away and getting patents on designs for a vastly more powerful capacitor that is also smaller and lighter than anything going. 

Now, according to the university, ARPA-E, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which is providing Welsch his funding, “is especially interested in the capacitor for hybrids and all-electric cars.”

Capacitor-enabled power inverters are a key element in EVs and hybrids.

As Welsch put it in the Case Western press release: 

”Electric vehicles need power inverters to convert (DC) battery power into higher voltage AC power for their electric motors and to harvest braking power.”

What sets Welsch’s capacitor apart is “titanium alloy so finely textured that it absorbs almost all the light falling on it.” 

In addition, “a large surface area squeezed into a small volume enables high capacitance and a high energy density,” Case Western said.

Welsch and his team hope to be ready to bring the capacitor to market within three years.

* Pete Danko, EarthTechling