The interest in developing multifunctional materials has greatly increased in the last decade. Power storage composites are just one class of multifunctional materials that has the potential to lead to significant size and weight reduction. Many electronic devices (i.e. laptops, cellphones, iPods, etc.) and mechanical systems that require or generate electrical power during operation (i.e., hybrid or fully electric cars, wind turbines, airplanes, etc.) could benefit substantially from these materials. While several types of power storage structural composites have been developed to date, i.e. composite batteries and fuel cells, structural load bearing super- and ultra-capacitors appear to be the most promising ones. To date, two classes of structural capacitors have been explored: dielectric and solid electrolyte capacitors; the former are suitable for applications where very high voltage bursts of electrical energy are needed, while the latter are suitable for applications where lower voltage levels are required (i.e. more general power storage/delivery applications). This paper describes the efforts made to develop and characterize electro-mechanically structural supercapacitors. The load-bearing supercapacitors discussed here have been made with carbon fiber weave electrodes and separators of various materials, glued together with a solid polymer electrolyte (SPE) matrix. Electrochemical characterization reported specific capacitances as high as 2.9μF/mm3 and energy densities as high as 4.9 kJ/g.

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