Powering a sustainable future

With growing global demand for sustainability, supercapacitors could be the key to smarter, more efficient energy and water use in our everyday devices and appliances.

Researchers at the University of Waikato, led by Nihal Kularatna, are pioneering the development of new supercapacitor-based approaches for energy recovery, power protection and optimised energy and water use.

Supercapacitors have long been used in the electric vehicle and renewable energy industries to improve battery performance. But now Nihal Kularatna and his team have developed a technique for more efficient low-noise DC power regulators. This not only reduces interference but, in some cases, the extra efficiency can extend the battery life of electronic devices by up to three times. 

Another project has seen the development of a supercapacitor-based surge protection circuit to save sensitive electronic equipment from damaging power surges caused by lightning strikes and variable power quality. It offers superior protection to other current methods available and commercial production is underway.

The group's most recent development project uses supercapacitors for rapid water heating. The first application for this solution may be in New Zealand households, where there is often a 30-60 second delay for hot water – and during this time the cold water stored in the pipes is flushed down the sink. Supercapacitors will instantly heat the cold water in the pipe, and this could prevent up to 12 billion litres of water from being wasted in New Zealand every year.