Supercapacitors based on carbon nanotube fuzzy fabric structural composites

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Materials Engineering


Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Advisor: Khalid Lafdi


Supercapacitors used in conjunction with batteries offer a solution to energy storage and delivery problems in systems where high power output is required, such as in fully electric cars. This project aimed to enhance current supercapacitor technology by fabricating activated carbon on a substrate consisting of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) grown on a carbon fiber fabric (fuzzy fabric). The fuzzy surface of CNTs lowers electrical resistance and increases porosity, resulting in a flexible fabric with high specific capacitance. Experimental results confirm that the capacitance of activated carbon fabricated on the fuzzy fiber composite is significantly higher than when activated carbon is formed simply on a bare carbon fiber substrate, indicating the usefulness of CNTs in supercapacitor technology. The fabrication of the fuzzy fiber based carbon electrode was fairly complex. The processing steps included composite curing, stabilization, carbonization and activation. Ratios of the three basic ingredients for the supercapacitor (fiber, CNT and polymer matrix) were investigated through experimentation and Grey relational analysis. The aim of Grey relational analysis was to examine factors that affect the overall performance of the supercapacitor. It is based on finding relationships in both independent and interrelated data series (parameters). Using this approach, it was determined that the amount of CNTs on the fiber surface plays a major role in the capacitor properties. An increased amount of CNTs increases the surface area and electrical conductivity of the substrate, while also reducing the required time of activation. Technical advances in the field of Materials and Structures are usually focused on attaining superior performance while reducing weight and cost. To achieve such combinations, multi-functionality has become essential; namely, to reduce weight by imparting additional functions simultaneously to a single material. In this study, a structural composite with excellent capacitive energy properties was successfully prepared. Moreover, after carbon nanotube growth the fuzzy fabric gained tangible energy storage properties without any structural degradation to the carbon fiber. These results represent a state-of-the-art advancement for multifunctional structural composites and warrant further development.


Electrodes, Carbon Design and construction, Fibrous composites Electric properties, Supercapacitors Design and construction, Supercapacitors; carbon nanotube; fuzzy fabric structural composites

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Copyright © 2012, author