Carbon additives for electrical double layer capacitor electrodes

Electrochemical double layer capacitors (EDLCs) are inherently high power devices when compared to rechargeable batteries. While capacitance and energy storage ability are mainly increased by optimizing the electrode active material or the electrolyte, the power capability could be improved by including conductive additives in the electrode formulations. This publication deals with the use of four different carbon additives – two carbon blacks and two graphites – in standard activated carbon based EDLC electrodes. The investigations include: (i) physical characterization of carbon powder mixtures such as surface area, press density, and electrical resistivity measurements, and (ii), electrochemical characterization via impedance spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry of full cells made with electrodes containing 5 wt.% of carbon additive and compared to cells made with pure activated carbon electrodes in organic electrolyte. Improved cell performance was observed in both impedance and cyclic voltammetry responses. The results are discussed considering the main characteristics of the different carbon additives, and important considerations about electrode structure and processability are drawn.