Carbon based double layer capacitors with aprotic electrolyte solutions: the possible role of intercalation/insertion processes
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The extraordinary stability and cycle life performance of today’s electrochemical double-layer capacitors (EDLCs) are generally ascribed to the fact that charge storage in activated carbon (AC) is based on pure double-layer charging. In contrast, Faradaic charge-transfer reactions like those occurring in batteries are often connected with dimensional changes, which can affect the cycle life of these storage devices. Here we report the charge-induced height change of an AC electrode in an aprotic electrolyte solution, 1 mol/l (C2H5)4NBF4 (TEABF4) in acetonitrile. The results are compared with those obtained for a graphite electrode in the same electrolyte. For both electrodes, we observe an expansion/contraction of several percent for a potential window of ±2 V vs. the immersion potential (ip). For the EDLC electrode, significant expansion starts at about 1 V remote from the ip and hence is well within the normal EDLC operation range. For the graphite electrode, the height changes are unambiguously caused by intercalation/deintercalation of both anions and cations. The close analogies between the graphite and the EDLC electrode suggest that ion intercalation or insertion processes might play a major role for charge storage, self discharge, cyclability, and the voltage limitation of EDLCs.
KeywordsGraphite Electrode Dimensional Change EPDM Height Change Double Layer Capacitor
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