Coming Soon? Hybrid Solar Power Devices that also Store Energy

Supercapacitors have been compared to the flash from an old camera. They give an immediate burst of energy, which is then gone. A number of companies have combined supercapacitors with batteries for applications that require immediate response and sustained capacity. Startup SunVault Energy has developed a graphene hybrid device that is both a supercapacitor and battery storage. It is modular in design, meaning it can be shaped to power.

There are some recognizable names connected to this company. CEO Gary Monaghan is a former marketing Director for both Shaw and Rogers Communications. Director William Richardson is a former Governor of New Mexico and was Secretary of Energy under President Clinton. British researcher Robert Murray Smith recently joined the board.

“Our technology uses more of the graphene’s surface area, which creates a more densely created product. This increases the conductivity and storage within the device. We’ve taken it from one farad, to a thousand farads, to ten thousands farads and now we’re looking at a megafarad,” said Monaghan.

Smith said that a megafarad is the capacity you need to run a home.

This is the first step in what was intended to be a totally independent solar panel. SunVault was originally developing a 3-dimensional solar appliance that collected energy on three sides and articulated to the sun while generating and storing power, “with zero to minimal reliance on additional power from the grid.”

After encountering lifespan issues with the biocel technology storing the energy, SunVault decided to focus on the storage side first.

The company quickly realized there were a number of applications besides storing solar energy. As one might expect from a technology that combines the speed of a supercapacitor with energy storage, it is ideal for grid stabilization. SunVault’s technology could also be used in a smartphone or to power an electric vehicle.

Tesla currently uses a 450-pound lithium battery that delivers a ten kWh charge. Though SunVault’s storage device delivers one kWh, ten of them only weigh 44 pounds. Further, Monaghan believes the system could be manufactured for a third of the cost.

“There are a lot of Northern, or distant communities, that need more energy. It would be nice to ship in battery packs,” speculated Monaghan.

SunVault is a two-year-old Kelowna firm that claims it was exhibiting a substantial revenue stream last September. Monaghan said the company is presently at, or near, profitability as the result of a number of revenue producing projects including working with many First Nations Groups, a Tire Recycling facility and “a healthy project list for this upcoming year.” Smith added that SunVault’s next annual filing will come out shortly.

Monaghan said the company is waiting for third-party verification before its energy storage device goes into the certification and production process.

Lead image: Graphene Sheet. Credit: Shutterstock.

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Roy L Hales is a Canadian author living in the West Coast of British Columbia. He has been freelancing since 1982, originally writing features in in the print news media, and been the editor of two websites and a quarterly magazine. He was the editor of the Vine Press (1992 & 1993), editor of San Diego Loves Green in 2013 and founded the ECOreport (www.theecoreport.com) in 2014. Some of his recent work can be found on websites like Clean Technica, East County Magazine, PVSolarReport and the Watershed Sentinel. He is currently editor/owner of the blog the ECOreport and has a radio program, also called the ECOreport, which is broadcast on three British Columbian stations as well as the internet.

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