Ask Hackaday: Graphene Capacitors On Kickstarter

Last week, we heard of an interesting Kickstarter that puts a capacitor and charging circuit in the same space as a AA battery. This is usually a very simple endeavour, but this capacitor has the same energy density as an alkaline cell. The chemistry inside this capacitor was initially attributed to lithium ion, and a few people in the comments section were wondering how this was possible. The math just didn’t seem to add up.

The guy behind this Kickstarter, [Shawn West], recently spilled the beans on these… interesting capacitors. Apparently, they’re not lithium ion capacitors at all, but graphene capacitors. Graphene capacitors you can buy. On Kickstarter. Graphene capacitors, also known as the thing that will change everything from smartphones to electric vehicles, and everything in between. I will admit I am skeptical of this Kickstarter.

Apparently, these graphene supercaps are in part designed and manufactured by [Shawn] himself. He fabricates the graphene by putting graphite powder in a ball mill for a day, adding a bit of water and surfactant, then running the ball mill for another few days. The graphene then floats to the top where it is skimmed off and applied to a nonconductive film.

There’s absolutely nothing that flies in the face of the laws of physics when it comes to graphene capacitors – we’ve seen a few researchers at UCLA figure out how to make a graphene supercap. The general consensus when it comes to graphene supercaps is something along the lines of, ‘yeah, it’ll be awesome, in 10 years or so.’ I don’t think anyone thought the first graphene capacitors would be available through Kickstarter, though.

I’m a little torn on this one. On one hand, graphene supercaps, now. On the other hand, graphene supercaps on Kickstarter. I’m not calling this a scam, but if [Shawn]‘s caps are legit, you would think huge companies and governments would be breaking down his door to sign licensing agreements.

Post your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Scam. Just so much doesn’t add up. Paying a factory to make it for him with his own special mix he made himself? Why wasn’t that in the original kickstarter, where he said he was buying the caps and soldering them into cans himself.

    • Anonymous says:

      If they existed wouldn’t there be a bigger market for the caps themselves rather than caps soldered into AA battery cans? Seems like an odd extra step.

    • Anonymous says:

      The “charger” is curious too. How is a TO220 package supplying hundreds of watts to charge the cap in 20 seconds?

      • tekkieneet says:

        I built a 30A switch mode current source for Charging supercap (work stuff).

        The prototype was about 4″ x 2″ for the power train and may be another 2″ x 1″ for the control circuits. Everything was already in SMT. The power train could easily shrink by 1/2 in the final product because I used fancy chip scale packaging instead of TO263. So surface area is about 6 sq in which works out to be 1.5″ x 2″ if both side of the PCB are used. (That does not even include the 200W DC power supply to run it.)

        So highly doubtful someone with no soldering skill could have pulled that off with a TO220 part. My FAE would have sold me on that mystical part and I could have gone off a vacation instead of doing LTSpice simulation for weeks.

    • Ryan Mitchell says:

      Put up 2 kickstarters, see which people trust more:
      “I’m buying these from a factory, they’re pretty hard to get”
      vs
      “I’m mixing this shit up from stuff I bought from home depo and bribing a cap manufacturer to use my shit, but trust me, I know what I’m doing!”

      • hpux735 says:

        Exactly. This update is what made me retract my support. When it was “I’m buying caps from maxwell,” which is a legit Li-ion super cap manufacturer, and I could see their specs, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but I thought it was worth a shot. Now, it’s painfully obvious that he’s full of shit. Boo.

  2. sve says:

    100% scam

  3. Ryan Mitchell says:

    For $20 I think it doesn’t matter if it’s fake. $20 for a slim chance to be one of the first people to own commercial graphene supercaps? To, in 40 years, tell your grandkids, “I remember when these things first hit the market, people where going on about how graphene would be great, but not for 10 years, then some dude on what we called the “Internet” silently announced he’d be making them for $20. I didn’t really believe it at first, but for $20 who cares?”

    • Greenaum says:

      Send me $20 and I -just might- have a machine that fuses hydrogen in a cup of cold water. Free energy, convert your car to run on tap water! Admittedly it’s impossible and doesn’t exist, but for $20, a slim chance to own the first working cold-fusion machine. Imagine yelling about it to your uncaring grandkids, as they bundle you into a home and ask the nurse to double your sedatives. $20, who cares? At least if you wiped your arse on $20 it’d be something you could say you’ve done.

      • twdarkflame says:

        Bad comparison. Unlike cold fusion, this has been shown to work in principle elsewhere.

        Theres nothing impossible here at all.
        Its merely a question of if it can be done on a small scale for the asking price.

        • Greenaum says:

          It’s not physically impossible to make the caps, but it’s not possible for one bloke in his garage who suddenly changed his mind from buying capacitors to having his own manufactured. So… he grinds up some carbon, posts it off to China somewhere, and they pour it into their half-made caps with a funnel? That’s impossible. Or any other method whereby he makes state-of-the-art still-in-the-lab technology in his shed.

          And don’t they have their own ball mills in this cap factory he’s befriended?

      • Ryan Mitchell says:

        I’m an Australian, I can wipe my ass with money without damaging it in the least. You have inspired me to wipe my ass on a $20 note, write on it “I used this to wipe my ass”, then send it back into the general populous. THAT’S a story to tell my grandkids.

    • Peter says:

      More than likely you will be telling your grandkids that you were bilked $20 in a “internet” scam. You can also tell them about the Nigerian prince guy. How much money? Who cares how much money? It was a real prince!

    • tekkieneet says:

      Anything technology related, I wouldn’t pay for the first few revs. until all the bugs are worked out. Hell Apple did a recall/replace my 2nd Gen Nano. Thanks for screwing up guys. :)
      Eventually this if it is not a scam would turn into a commodity part just like those blue LED. There is no collector’s value in it either. If it were a stock for IPO, that would be a different matter.
      As for $20, there are tons of knock off electronics I can buy from China that is more real than an vapor at best and most likely a scam prduct that I have have wait for.
      You can’t make a Supercap at home into a product these days. It is fine to experiment, but watch out for patents that you don’t know exists when it come to making a product as there are already other companies making Supercaps. You are bounded to hit a few of them that these companies filled ages ago and the sharks would come circulating in.

    • jlbrian7 says:

      I think that this would be a better use of your $20, and it would probably be more fun.

      • jlbrian7 says:

        Additionally, as the write up says, what they are using at UCLA is graphite oxide. This can be made at home but probably isn’t the best idea. If what I read is accurate you are essentially mixing powdered graphite (pencil lead shavings) with solid rocket fuel, sulfuric acid and a strong oxidizer and trying to keep it all cool. Add water, and watch the show.

        The paper they cited in the article is from ’58 so hopefully better processes have been found, but if not I can understand why this is not commercially available yet.

        • jlbrian7 says:

          Hack idea. Possibly a modified dehumidifier to keep a fresh water bath and surrounding air cool, a hand held grass spreader controlled with servo’s to sprinkle in the “rocket fuel”, a magnetic stirrer, and a way to slowly introduce water. All of this housed in a box with hinged sides so that they lay down in event of the sudden release of pressure and the top pops off but fixed to one of the sides or the floor with wire rope. All of it could be controlled from a safe distance (if I ever make it back to Texas with enough time and money to set it up. There are no neighbors for miles). For now this will have to be shelved along with my idea to electrically separate oxygen and hydrogen and pipe it into the oil burning furnace to see if it increases efficiency.

          Practicality is always getting in the way of my best ideas.

          • jlbrian7 says:

            There is a newer process that is much safer and and capable of being scaled up for mass production. I think that what is happening with the caps in the kickstarter is the guy is just using a thin layer of graphite, which is totally safe, cheap, and anyone can do it. However, if I am understanding correctly graphite has a 3d lattice structure, and graphene is a 2d lattice, hence the need for the strong oxidizers with graphite.

            I believe that the youtube video above and the kickstarter are misusing the word graphene. The caps work, but are not effecient.

      • rue_mohr says:

        thats not a capacitor, thats some sort of electrochemical reaction…

      • Jeramy says:

        I wonder if coating the lamination’s in a motor stator with the fluid in the video and using it to glue them together would make for a smoother start-stop and improved performance.

  4. Seth Just says:

    This would be a breakthrough if he had created an efficient technique that could be scaled up commercially. However, I think Kickstarter scale is much closer to research scale than worldwide mass production.

  5. sneakypoo says:

    I like this comment in particular:
    “If, for some reason you don’t believe these claims, well, I invite you to pledge enough to get a battery and run it through your own rigorous tests.”

    Which in my mind translates to:
    “I wont give you any evidence but I’ll gladly take your money so you can see first hand that it was indeed fake, just like you suspected.”

  6. Peter says:

    I think he’s trying to raise money to get that awful thing next to his nose checked out :|

  7. twdarkflame says:

    No need to go to extremes. A scam is a deliberate lie to get your money.
    Things can go wrong, or be overly optimistic while not being a scam.

    • Greenaum says:

      They can, but I think this one is a scam anyway. The sudden change from the credible put-caps-into-batteries, which made sense except the numbers didn’t add up, to him all of a sudden, for a few grand, manufacturing capacitors. And then wasting such an amazingly profitable product that would sell in the millions instantly, on a silly scheme for obsolescent batteries. The first bit you could say was over-optimistic and not-quite-understanding what he was doing. The second is flat-out bullshit.

      An honest man, upon being shown plan A didn’t work, would apologise and give the money back. A dishonest man, who was peddling a lie to start with, would just make up a better lie. Except he knows less about manufacturing caps than he does about using them. So his lie comes out ridiculous.

      Of course an honest man wouldn’t have claimed to have successfully tested Plan A “in his daughter’s toys”. Don’t suppose they were ANSI Standard Battery-Testing Daughter-Toys?

      If it’s real I’ll eat a hat full of wireless power-harvesting Bluetooth locator tags.

  8. I think his best option for validating his battery would be to ship a prototype to HaD so it can be verified by a source that the community trusts. It seems that a lot of “shady” kickstarter projects would benefit greatly from doing something along those lines.

    • We’ve thought about starting our own crowdfunding site where we would do just that. Proof of concept required for a campaign. Of course, that would be a huge investment to get it up and running, but I might have an idea where we could raise the money.

      • Bogdan says:

        Why not start a crowd funding campaign to get money to start your crowd funding site?

      • Please do this

      • Greenaum says:

        As a serious idea it’d be terrible. You’d be inviting every unstable nutcase and huckster, who, just because he doesn’t understand science, assumes nobody else does either, to badger the shit out of you til the end of time. Then blame you for his lack of success, with suing, bad-mouthing, and dogshit-in-the-mail.

        Even national and international govt organisations have trouble keeping scammers under control. To put yourself right bang in the middle is asking Hell to descend upon you.

        Just being a trusted voice of reason, as well as a place for smartarses, well-informed and clever smartarses, to gather and pick faults is good enough. If HaD can’t find a problem with something it’s probably perfect, and we’re motivated by something much stronger than money or public duty. The Olympian honor of being right on the Internet!

      • I don’t even think you need to bother with your own crowd funding site. Just doing a category of proof-of-concept posts so a kickstarter campaign could mail you one to test and have HaD confirm that “yes, these are in fact a real working thing” would be an invaluable service to the community.

        • Pedro says:

          instead of a crowdfunding website I propose an ANTI CROWDSCAM TASKFORCE :D a forum and/or a website that would allow users to review all the crowdfunding projects in order to find if it’s a scam or not.

          this is definitely a scam. just think a bit about it.

  9. Jedi says:

    so, theoretically: how would one use these in a product that requires several AA’s in series?

    • Greenaum says:

      Good point, can you do that with switch-modes? I suppose each one is operating from a separate power source, so that would help a certain amount. And switchers offer a certain amount of isolation from their input source. In general, putting them in series, I’d like to know what happens just out of interest.

      A better idea might be to sell 3V batteries that look like a pair of AAs facing opposite directions, the way most AAs end up anyway.

      If this wasn’t just a big scam, that is.

      • arachnidster says:

        No isolation is necessary – there’s nothing to isolate _from_. With only negative and positive, a battery (or supercap) powered switchmode regulator neither knows nor cares what its reference voltage from ground (or from the start of the stack of batteries) is.

        • Greenaum says:

          That’s what I thought, why I mentioned the separate power sources.

          What about in other cases though? Will 2 x 5V switchmode PSUs, running off the same mains supply, work OK in series to give 10V? Or in parallel for more current? Or other combinations of switchers operating off common supplies? Just curious about how it works.

          I can see that the coil, the main power-carrying element, is only connected to one side of the circuit, input or output, at once, but then there’s other bits, it isn’t obvious to me.

          Nothing to do with miracle batteries, just curious.

          • Tom says:

            It does depend very much on the specifics of your SMPS. I use a high-end, [230VA -> 12V @ 7.5A] SMPS in a work product, which has a “floating” output, in that it does not internally connect to A/C Earth through the SMPS unit. This supply could be stacked in series with another of the same, to give 24V @ 7.5A, or in parallel for 12V @ 15A.

            The 2 x [230VA -> 5V DC] SMPS I am using for a fairly large WS2812B project can source 5V @ 64A (each!), but 0V DC is connected internally to A/C Earth. I would *not* want to connect these in series!

            It is worth noting that two of the 5V supplies cost together what a single “high-end” supply costs, so I wonder if it is a feature that makes certain design choices easier, perhaps?

    • tekkieneet says:

      I used a dead NiMH AA battery short it with a copper foil as a dummy battery. I use it with a LiFePO4 (3.3V recharable battery). Works great for my old camera.

      If I ever need to walk pass airport security, I would put regular NiMH in. I don’t needlessly want their attention.

      If you need to put these “batteries” in series, you would want to make sure that there is a reverse bias schottky diode connected in parallel to the output for protection. Who know when one of these “batteries” shuts down before the others and you’ll get a reverse current connected to the switch mode circuits inside. You don’t want the body diodes of MOSFET drivers start conducting etc.

  10. “…you would think huge companies and governments would be breaking down his door to sign licensing agreements…”
    What the way they did with the automotive Gas turbine engine?
    Call me a sceptic but the big companies would be doing everything in their power to stop it!
    Was it not hackaday that did an article about carbon film and its strength and electrical storage capacities?

    • Nubie says:

      Gas turbin is not efficient across a ln RPM range great enough to pair with standard automot8ve transmissions, and since it runs at high rpm it has great inertia so it can’t change speed(accelerate) like a piston engine. Chrysler had loaner turbine cars, and I imagine somewhere out there is a radio show or book entitled “Who Killed the Turbine Car”

      They also can’t idle and continuously burn copious amounts of fuel when running. (Although that is perfect for airplane and high speed ring racing where good non-rpm-variable fuel consumption is fine)

      Only recently CVT and hybrid tech became mass consumption ready (YMMV), and a turbine’s single rpm and lack of idle can be mitigated by using it as a charger, and/or giving it stop/start capability.

      • Drake says:

        Turbine -> generator -> e-drive

        • Ben says:

          Turbines have appalling specific output – the amount of fuel they consume to create a given amount of power is extremely high. That’s not their niche at all.

          The big benefits to turbines are reliability (one moving part), low vibration, high power-to-weight ratio, and high total power (they can be scaled to nearly any size and output). They’re used in airplanes, tanks, and stationary power applications because weight and total power matters more than economy in those applications.

          They’re specifically not used in trains and ships because those are situations where better economy is well worth a bit more physical space and weight. Cars are similar in that, even if you use a hybrid driveline to get around their slow throttle response, a hundred pounds or so difference between a turbine and a piston engine doesn’t really matter. You’re better off using an Atkinson-cycle engine like every other hybrid out there.

          Plus, the typical parallel hybrid arrangement used in road cars is much more efficient than a series hybrid like a diesel-electric locomotive, because at steady cruise speeds you don’t have to convert energy twice, mechanical -> electrical -> mechanical. Such a system is mainly useful in huge equipment where it means you don’t have to design a clutch and transmission for half a million pound-feet of torque.

          I don’t know where everyone gets the idea that turbines are some amazing power source to cure all problems. Like everything else, they have advantages and disadvantages. Companies spend a lot of time and money picking the best technology for each application. Even if they botch the execution from time to time, they still generally use the proper technology.

    • John says:

      Google “Chrysler Turbine Car”. They tried to make them, they were awful in pretty much every way.

    • Galane says:

      Look up what didn’t happen to the stainless steel cased, wet cell Nickel Cadmium battery. During WW2 they were extensively used in military aircraft and were nearly indestructible, often salvaged from crashes and used again.

      The biggest American battery manufacturer licensed the rights to produce them here, said they were going to make them in sizes for automotive use… then proceeded to do absolutely nothing with the technology because they wanted to continue selling their limited life lead acid batteries.

      I had an old car magazine from the 1960’s with an article on the history of the batteries and how the big battery manufacturers worked to ensure they’d never be used in motor vehicles.

      Wet cell NiCd batteries are still used in some aircraft and industrial applications and for some large backup power supplies. They have more capacity than lead acid and deep and fast discharge doesn’t harm them. They also tolerate fast charging. In short, the ideal battery to use with an internal combustion engine, but unless you can find an appropriate sized aircraft or industrial model, you can’t have one in your car and the lead acid battery manufacturers are exceedingly happy about that.

      • Tony says:

        So what’s stopping the Chinese from making them?

      • Ben says:

        Everybody loves a conspiracy theory. Everything I can find about wet-cell NiCd says they’re ten times as expensive as lead and suffer from the same high self-discharge as other NiCd cells. It’s no good as a car battery if you have to trickle charge it when you park the car for a week. And there’s no point having a 20-year battery when a car’s typical lifespan is less than that; if a lead-acid battery lasts more than two years, you’re money ahead.

    • Janus Sunaj says:

      # “you would think huge companies and governments would be smart enough to sign licensing agreements”
      FTFY
      Yeah, no.

    • Lwatcdr says:

      “What the way they did with the automotive Gas turbine engine?
      Call me a sceptic but the big companies would be doing everything in their power to stop it!”
      Why if any one company could make them and have an advantage they would. Why are they not common in Russia or China? Do you really think GM and Ford had the influence to keep the USSR and China from building them?

  11. ejonesss says:

    i think i will wait until they hit the market and price driven down by the chinese wanting to feed their egos.

  12. SuperDave says:

    I am highly sceptical. He was describing different characteristics when talking about the discharge curve. He said the input to the buck converter was from 3.8 to 2.2v which matches the discharge limits of the LIoN supercaps. A carbon nanotube capacitor would not have such a lower discharge limit.

    Plus, if you look at his capacitor picture, it clearly says Lithium Ion Capacitor.

  13. wethecom says:

    i knew right from the start this guys kick starter was BS. i might be confused but is this article implying that supercapacitors dont exist yet? …graphen super caps are cheap and F%^&ing awesome and have been on the market a long time

    • David says:

      Yes, you are confused. Carbon supercaps have been available for a long time, but are not awesome enough to come close to replacing batteries. Graphene is a different form of carbon that hasn’t been used in capacitors yet. It might be better, or not, who knows.

  14. John Kocurek says:

    There is no reason in principle that he has what he claims. As time goes on, simpler and simpler methods to create graphene are being found. His described method is similar to the one where they spray graphene particles at high velocity onto a surface and it sort of splats out to a thin film.

    Having said that, Kickstarter? If he has a company manufacture them, why isn’t the company falling all over themselves to license them for the market? Anybody with any brains would realize they are looking at a multi-billion dollar market in a very short period of time.

    If he actually had something, he should be out stalking Elon Musk and not playing around with Kickstarter…

    • wethecom says:

      what he is trying to build is seems simple minus the building the caps from scratch…they are so cheap why would you bother…and why hasn’t someone just done this yet. all the research i did shows that super caps would work better that standard batteries

      • Ben says:

        The big trick to using capacitors instead of batteries is the voltage curve. Batteries hold a pretty constant voltage for most of their discharge, while a capacitor’s voltage drops linearly to zero. You can use a voltage regulator (like this guy claims to) to get around the issue, but that takes up more space in the casing. And you still have to fit enough capacitance in there to make sense, which requires pretty awesome capacitors.

        So the reason nobody has done this yet is that nobody has capacitors good enough. Probably also including some guy making them in his garage.

    • James says:

      > he should be out stalking Elon Musk

      If he actually had something Elon Musk should be out stalking HIM.

  15. Bogdan says:

    There is one thing I don’t buy about super caps: the fast charging time. Everyone thinks yeah: capacitors can charge fast, surely supercaps will too. But what they forget is that as they increase the surface of the electrodes to increase capacitance they don’t also increase the cross section, thus the current capability is still low.

    You know why the 15 minute charge ni-mh batteries have lower capacity? because they had to increase the electrodes size to carry the current. Assuming the same energy density in you supercap you will get to a charging current around 200A for 30s charging. I mean, can you make a contact good enough on the tip of the AA to carry that current?

    • tekkieneet says:

      The battery will be spot welded to the contacts at 200A. Apple would love that. :)

      It takes about 25 or so seconds to charge up 3 Maxwell BoostCap 350F 2.5V in series with a 30A current limit. (the current drops below 30A after the voltage rises to a certain point.)

  16. How many things we take for granted today started out in a garage or a shed, I can think of oh computers, automobiles, electric grids.

    • Silicon Skum says:

      “computers, automobiles, electric grids”

      Computers – meh, sort of – ish, I’ll let that one slide.
      Automobiles, yes granted that actually did happen.
      Electric grids……??? As in ‘nation wide electricity supply lines’? Errr, no….. Just – NO!

      However you still have a somewhat valid point.

      • kaidenshi says:

        Computers: He may have been thinking of the Apple I.
        Automobiles: The automobile was invented in a garage? Did someone divide by zero again??
        Electric grids: The concept was first put into practice by an existing electric company, so I’m with you on the “nope”.

        • Silicon Skum says:

          Computers: Apple or HP – that’s why I let that one slide. ;) But no, strictly speaking not actually “invented” in a garage. Although some may have actually been built in a garage, and opereated in a converted shed (for example Colossus)…

          Automobiles – Well it was not so much a ‘garage’ as workshop \ horse stables. Although several others were working on the problem at about the same time, Karl Friedrich Benz is generally acknowledged as the inventor of the modern automobile. He built what he called the “Motorwagen”, which was built in 1885 at his home in Mannheim, Germany. As it was the first to have a “motor car” in it, then said workshop could be considered to have changed purpose to a garage… ;)

          Now if we are letting ‘computers in garages’ have a free pass, then same example as above applies, plenty of cars were created and built in garages and sheds (TVR sports cars for example).

          Hey, I’m trying to be generous to the OP here. :D

          • Janus Sunaj says:

            # “I’m trying to be generous”
            … which in this case is a total waste of time and generosity.

  17. Pixel Pirate says:

    It sounds like this kickstarter is BS, but that you can indeed build a gaphene supercap in your garage, although it wouldn’t be cost effective.

  18. replic8tor says:

    Get picture of Taiyo Yuden 40F capacitor. Compare to posted pictures of this guys ~1250mAh AA capacitor. Realize he is showing that capacitor in the photos claiming to be the working battery module. Do the math and realize with 3A and 40F you can charge the cell in 26s.

    You can see the logo on the battery. You can see the voltage below that, and the 40F marking. Look in the picture showing the capacitor next to the other cylinder, there are two where you can see this. In the close up of the cap you can see the words on the left side of the cap.

    The whole thing is shady as hell, and this just ices the cake.

  19. lel says:

    He already pulled a 180 in order to make his campaign seem more attractive. I mean how the hell does he go from “I’m buying lithium caps from digikey by the piece.” which were HIS WORDS to “I’m making cutting edge advanced technology like the world has never seen”…….

    LOOK AT HIS FUCKING SOLDERING SKILLZ ON THOSE “CIRCUIT BOARDS”

    Does that scream technical genius to you?

    ALSO, he lied about the capacity of the things in the first version anyway. He stated one figure, then changed it to something else that was about one tenth as much. He hasn’t been able to show a prototype for this either.

    The fact that he lied about the specs in order to get backers, changed his entire product to something different in order to try to get more backers, and DOESN’T HAVE A PROTOTYPE and refuses to demonstrate this items actual capacity, which would be simple and quick to do— nevermind fucking groundbreaking — means that this kickstarter is a scam. Shame on hackaday for even asking the question.

    It’s not that there’s a problem with someone doing something amazing in their garage either, we all know of plenty examples of amazing technical developments that were incubated in some pretty primitive conditions.

    This guy has already proven that he’s a liar and a scammer, and now you’re asking the question of: “Well he already lied and scammed us about this kickstarter, but what if ITS REAL!?!??!?”

    Get a brain, morans.

    • Hahihula says:

      just want to point out that i have seen pretty ugly soldering on boards that are made by genius. Look at boards this guy is doing. (http://danyk.cz/index_en.html) it’s terrible. But he really know what he is doing.

      Not saying your not right about this kickstarter, only the soldering skill argument seem wrong to me

      • cr0sh says:

        That guy may “know” what he’s doing, but at the same time it seems like he plays fast and loose with some dangerous stuff he’s shown.

        I didn’t look at every project, but on one of them he’s holding a wire – bare handed – striking a small HV arc – maybe not the most dangerous thing (and maybe his other hand is tucked in a pocket).

        On another project, he’s striking some very large arcs that are melting metal and glass – and doing it on wood and newspaper! It seems like for many of these HV “experiments” he’s in a tiled bathroom, which is a good precaution, but it makes me wonder why he isn’t outside? One explanation would be that he doesn’t have an “outside” – that he lives in an apartment of some sort. If so, where’s the consideration for his neighbors, should he accidentally catch his apartment on fire?

        I guess for me its that he posts these pictures looking fairly nonchalant about what he is doing, with little to no mention of any safety precautions he is taking (other than mostly “this is dangerous – do at your own risk”).

        Maybe I missed a section, but having some kind of explanation of what he has in place to prevent (or put out) a fire, as well as other HV handling safety precautions might go a long way toward helping others brave enough to replicate such experiments.

        • janostman says:

          That’s only for US people.

          In the rest of the world we know it’s bad to stick fingers or toes under the lawnmower, ha ha

        • pcf11 says:

          If you set your apartment on fire you don’t have to worry about your former neighbors too much because odds are they won’t be your neighbors in the next place you live in.

        • Blue Footed Booby says:

          @cr0sh
          You’re conflating knowing what you’re doing–ie understanding the principles, and therefore the risks–with personal level of acceptable risk. Being nonchalant about dangers that evidently give you the sweats does not reflect any ignorance or lack of skill on his part. It may reflect being a literal crazy person, but that’s a separate issue.

          Analogy: for some people, jumping out of an airplane is suicidal recklessness. Other people do it for recreation.

  20. Hahihula says:

    I am quite confused. According to my math, when I first see these it’s doable with lithium ion capacitor. The 1150mAh he says is it’s capacity is doable with 270F capacitor. He was saying that he charge it to 5.5 volts and discharge to 1.2. It’s 2496.15 J. That’s 1664.1mAh at 1.5V. I’am assuming there will be some loses …
    Only problem I see is that mouser sells the 270F capacitor for 45eur and not for 20 dolars.

  21. lel says:

    LOOK AT THE REWARDS FOR FUNDING. He has stated that he will be sending REGULAR LITHIUM CELL BATTERIES for the rewards. NOT his special magical caps. He will be sending out regular batteries, Thus he will be able to deliver what he has promised.

    This is just a way for totally retarded morons to throw their money away because they’re too stupid to read. It’s still shameful to take advantage of people that are mentally handicapped though.

  22. Although the Kickstarter angle for projects like these is suspicious, I think Kickstarter is a much easier platform than grants or Angels. Kickstarter could be an awesome way to get started for hackers with a great idea but are outside academia and normal engineering circles.

  23. Chris C. says:

    Wow, Brian. Thanks for the updated info. I haven’t laughed so hard all week.

  24. 0ldrunk says:

    Looking at Shawn West Facebook page and the Group he’s in “Unity Science”, we can safely say his project is debunked , he’s one thouse “Spirit Science” Cult of Tesla people who believe real science is fake and made up voodoo is real but being supressed by the globo conglomerate system of oil or some such bullshit.
    I think the most likely thing going on here is bad math, maybe a drug addiction, religious believe in some thing and most likely he just reselling this product here http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Lithium-li-ion-rechargeable-li-ion_1289984064.html?s=p
    He says he’s a Computer “and” Electrical Engineer in the kickstarter Bio but his facebook profile says he’s a materials handler at a Aerospace company, Materials Handler means Fortlift operator not an engineer.

  25. Blah says:

    Basically kickstarter has become one big scam site, only thing it’s missing is Nigerians (though who knows how many actually are on it). I’d be very very cautious with anything on that pile of steaming cr*p. It obviously has had it’s day, and no website taking itself seriously should link to it.

    • Krusty says:

      The King of Nigeria has recently passed away. In our work packing up his personal effects, I discovered the plans he had just completed for the amazing Gold Box! All you do it put a regular house brick in the box at night and by morning it has turned to pure gold! Pledge $20 and I will send you a real gold bar. Pledge $100 and I will send you a Gold Box kit. Send $250 and I will assemble and test your Gold Box before shipping….

    • Blue Footed Booby says:

      This seems a bit melodramatic. The entire point, literally since conception, is that you’re intended to look at the credentials of the people who made the kickstarter, along with whatever information they post, and use that to gauge where the project lies on the pipedream/scamsure thing continuum. For example, when you see a kickstarter for a computer game made by a team that has made well-regarded computer games but has historically experienced publisher trouble, that’s pretty different from a nobody claiming to have invented electronic Jesus.

      And did you seriously self-censor “crap”?

  26. Before this goes large-scale and is used in industrial appliances, questions about combustibility will have to be answered just as were frequently posed by burning lithium batteries. While lithium is prone to react with oxygen and water, graphene being carbon is likely to burn if the energy density is set to work itself out e.g. through a short circuit. And as we know from coal heaps – larger deposits of carbon cannot be extinguished with water, like lithium batteries can’t.

  27. janostman says:

    Brian, why are you doing this?
    Are you lacking something to write about?

    No one is forcing anyone to pay $20 for anything.
    If it’s a scam it will fall apart by it self.

    No need to write about it?

    There is only about 10% of the people visiting this site that can understand or make something on there own.
    The other 90% don’t even know which way to turn the LED on a blinky or less know what a blinky is?

    If you want to say to those 90% that it’s a scam then do it straight out.
    The other 10% knows what to do anyways.

    • janostman says:

      If Elektor could make a 9v battery that lasted 3h on a 10F cap the a 240F cap should last 72h?

      And charging it is no problem.
      Any switched PSU can deliver 30-40A straight off?

      And that is still just an ordinary double-layer cap?

      Please do some reasoning and calculations for yourself and then figure if it’s a scam?

      • Sven says:

        Are you being serious, or are you joking?

        That Elektor battery lasted 3 hours for “light loads” meaning that basically the boost switch circuit would drain the battery in 3 hours with no load.

        Also that battery used a regular supercapacitor, this kickstarter seems to be using lithium supercapacitors (basically extra durable lithium ion batteries), they need protection circuits to keep them within allowed voltages.

        Any switched PSU can deliver 30-40A? Does that include 500mA 5V phone chargers?

      • macegr says:

        “Please do some reasoning and calculations for yourself and then figure if it’s a scam?”

        That is exactly what is being done here, and based on the reasoning and calculations alone, it’s a scam. With the added evidence of shady behavior, misrepresented experience, and changing the story when people ask too many questions…it’s a triple scam.

      • rasz_pl says:

        are you 12? wearing ‘I want to beliebe’ tshirt? both?

        it _is_ a scam. dude claimed to use particular caps, now he claims to invent kitchen made nano-ultra-capacitors after someone with actual clue and education pointed out math doent add up.

    • pcf11 says:

      Is blinky a technical term? I worked with a guy once that everyone called Blinky

    • Rob says:

      The HAD ip log might show whether or not [janostman] and [Shawn West] are the same people, or are in close proximity to each other… the defensiveness is odd. Brian?

  28. Jim says:

    This is sad ;( I hoped it was true but I figured it sounded too good.

  29. Doub says:

    An interesting quote from his last update: “the toy manufacturer probably has some sort of an agreement with battery manufacturers”. You can say that when joking around, when criticizing the system, not to assert the validity of your scientific tests. The guy is clearly delusioned, living in a conspiracist fantasy world. There’s a good chance he actually believes in his is stuff, but that doesn’t make it real.

    What’s likely though is that it’s the “manufacturer” that’s running a scam on him. It will end with a receipt from them saying “we made your shit according to your specs, don’t blame us if they don’t work”.

  30. I think there is a simple fix here, all this guy needs to do is provide some samples to be tested by an independent party. It doesn’t have to be as extravagant as a lab, just a site like HAD that has the tools and know how to run some basic tests. There will be people who will look at the math and say its legit and it’s a scam so lets just bypass the discussion and get to the testing and be done with it. IMO, it is plausible to make a capacitor using graphene that holds enough energy to potentially replace a AA battery in some applications. I am not so sure that it is plausible that this guy has done it in his house and created a way to have small runs manufactured. He doesn’t even mention his work or credentials for manufacturing such a product, even a line about teaching himself battery manufacturing and technology would be something. I also don’t think it is plausible for anyone to hand soldier 150+ smd boards by themselves in any reasonable amount of time, that is something that should be manufactured 100%, made into a larger through hole design, or use some sort of off the shelf part. It really sounds like he wants to kickstart his R&D, not a finished product ready for consumers. On top of that his business plan is flawed. 10k goal, 8k for battery, 2K for charger+shipping and $25 a unit leaves nothing for mistakes, packaging, etc. To take that a step further it is very irresponsible to try to bring any product to market without any testing. This guys should be showing us all sorts of testing to really sell it. If he proved his claims he could be getting 10X the amount of customers. Performance testing is pretty easy to do on a battery. What about safety testing? Are these going to over heat or leak, does it come with an MSDS?

  31. eccentricelectron says:

    HaD doesn’t have the expertise or knowledge to verify these kinds of projects – you only have to read their articles to see that; they are enthusiasts not engineers. The KS articles are posted as link bait IMO…

  32. Phillip says:

    i really like they way he t-bags us with a multimeter. For science! Check out the video on kickstarter:

    [video src="https://d2pq0u4uni88oo.cloudfront.net/assets/002/268/972/c0a520317d21b12bc5a74c073cccf713_h264_high.mp4" /]

  33. hacksagogo says:

    A 3500F / 3,8V graphene capacitor smaller than an AA battery. Gosh, that’s 25270 Joules or 4.68Ah @ 1.5V or 7Wh in a AA cell. And we’ll throw a 972 watt (25270 J/26 s) 255 Amperes @ 3,8V charger for free. ON SALE ! TODAY ! JUST $25 !

  34. FrankenPC says:

    I don’t know if anyone’s seen this yet. This guy even put this weak description on Instructables: http://www.instructables.com/id/Graphene-Supercapacitor-Based-Battery-Charges-In-S/

    Look. IF this was a genuine leap in capacitor technology, he’d patent it and be a millionaire. That leads me to one of two simple conclusions: 1) He’s a moron. 2) it’s a lie.

    • Janus Sunaj says:

      # “patent it and be a millionaire”
      That’s not how patents work, Genius.
      ProTip: patents work for corporations, not for people.

      • Blue Footed Booby says:

        Oh, they work just fine for people…if they have loads of money. *That’s* the issue. Small businesses, incorporated or otherwise, are only marginally less screwed than individuals.

  35. hacksagogo says:

    Let’s say the capacitor’s ESR were just 2.5 milli Ω.

    The energy dissipated in the series resistance in a 26 seconds charge cycle @ 255 Amperes would be I(A)*I(A)*R(J/(s*A*A))*t(s) = 255*255*0.0025*26 = 4226 Joules.

    It takes π*radius(cm)*radius(cm)*height(cm)*density(g/cm3)*specific heat(J/(g*K)) = π*0.7*0.7*5*1*4.2 = 32.3 Joules/K => 32.3 Joules to raise the temperature of an AA cell filled with water by 1 degree.

    Give it 4226J and its temperature will raise by 4226/32.3 = 130 degrees above room temperature (25 degrees Celsius) which we started at so that’s 155 degrees Celsius, 311 Fahrenheit.

    That is, if it were made of/filled with water. But what if it were made of solid aluminium for example, may I ask?

    The specific heat of Al is 0.91 much less than that of water, but it’s more dense at 2.7 g/cm3. Fill in the numbers 25+4226/(0.91*2.7*π*0.7*0.7*5) and it gives 248 degrees Celsius, 478 Fahrenheit.

    And graphite? specific heat is 0.71, density is 2.26 g/cm3, 25+4226/(0.71*2.26*π*0.7*0.7*5) gives 367 degrees Celsius, 692 Fahrenheit.

    What are these caps made of?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/specific-heat-metals-d_152.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/specific-heat-solids-d_154.html

  36. R says:

    Dave from EEVBlog has a writeup on this.
    tldr; it’s a scam

    http://www.eevblog.com/2014/07/28/graphene-lithium-ion-capacitor-kickstarter-bs/

  37. > “I’m not calling this a scam”

    For sure it’s not a scam. I’d say it’s a clear fraud “project”

  38. martin says:

    I know little about electronics. I’d agree though with the 160 Amp charge requirement. But if I’m not mistaken that’s if you would charge it at 1.5V. It’s charged at 3.8V, so the amps drop to about 63?
    And then I assume the 1150 mAH is the fulll theoretical capacity. But as you can only use the 3.8-2.2V range of the capacitor, then usable capacity is only 42% of 1150. And that would drop the current further down to 26 amps. Still looks scary to me, but could electronics cope with that, and would that not overheat?

  39. hacksagogo says:

    The guy has disabled comments in the kickstarter !

  40. martin says:

    That’s lame. Even I can point out the last poster on there got it at least partially wrong out. 160 amp at 12+V is not the same as 160 amp at 1.5V, or at 3.8V

    What i fail to understand is his business strategy. Clearly he can’t manufacture these in bulk, and the plant who made the few for him will have done a complete datasheet before shipping them. Given the (data) spread on 4? homemade prototypes would be enormous,I don’t know either what to expect. But at 10% life of Alkaline, 20 seconds recharge time, million times rechargeable, it would have a niche markets

  41. The Green Gentleman says:

    Shawn West has a remarkably small web footprint. I like that he’s a family man, though. I wonder how much a family costs for a photo-shoot. I suppose it’s cheaper if you just have to rent one child….

  42. Tony says:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shawnpwest/30-second-charging-rechargeable-battery/posts/935164

    Lol.

    (And he got funded, not so lol. Oh well, the backers might learn something.)

    • Tony says:

      …and now he’s promising to give everyone a charger that can do ~150A @ 5v. (After people pointed out that’s what the battery needs to charge in under 30 seconds)

      A $25 pledge gets you one battery and the charger.

      Hell, the dude can keep his fake battery, I’ll take one of those power supplies for $25!

  43. jaakko says:

    Even if the story was true, 1150mAh as he stated on KS from AA-size battery is no good these days. I have AA 2000mAh sanyo eneloops (1,2 v) and those are not even best sanyos.

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