Comparison of carbon onions and carbon blacks as conductive additives for carbon supercapacitors in organic electrolytes

This study investigates carbons onions (∼400 m2g-1)as a conductive additive for supercapacitor electrodes of activated carbon and compares their performance with carbon black with high or low internal surface area. We provide a study of the electrical conductivity and electrochemical behavior between 2.5 and 20 mass% addition of each of these three additives to activated carbon. Structural characterization shows that the density of the resulting film electrodes depends on the degree of agglomeration and the amount of additive. Additions of low surface area carbon black (∼80 m2g-1) enhances the power handling of carbon electrodes but significantly lowers the specific capacitance even when adding small amounts of carbon black. A much lower decrease in specific capacitance is observed for carbon onions and the best values are seen for carbon black with a high surface area (∼1390 m2·g-1). The overall performance benefits from the addition of any of the studied additives only at either high scan rates and/or electrolytes with high ion mobility. Normalization to the volume shows a severe decrease in volumetric capacitance and only at high current densities nearing 10 A g-1we can see an improvement of the electrode capacitance.