Technology Development Pilot Project supercapacitor findings “better than expected”

Posted on April 03, 2023

The Technology Development Pilot Project (TDPP), which Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI) launched with a call for proposals in spring 2021 has yielded promising results. Three one-year technology development projects were awarded funding by the Vice-Principal Research Portfolio in November 2021, and each commenced in early 2022.

Marianna Kontopoulou, Professor (Chemical Engineering) and Associate Dean (Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science). Photo courtesy of Marianna Kontopoulou.

Administered by QPI, the Pilot Project aimed to advance selected inventions with commercial potential, positioning them for other funding opportunities and making them attractive to potential licensees or investors.

Marianna Kontopoulou, Professor (Chemical Engineering) and Associate Dean (Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science), submitted a successful proposal to the TDPP to enhance the commercialization and licensing opportunities of a patent-pending thermomechanical exfoliation (TME) process to produce graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) comprised of a few-layers of stacked graphene.

Currently, Dr. Kontopoulou’s GNP technology is ideally suited for use in polymer composites. With TDPP funding, Dr. Kontopoulou’s team explored GNP use in concrete for structural uses, asphalt, water filtration, and for uses outside of traditional applications. “To expand the applicability of the technology, and therefore improve the potential for licensing in larger volume industrial and structural applications, there was a need to introduce surface functional groups to the GNPs,” says Dr. Kontopoulou. “This funding allowed us to explore application opportunities for our research that we didn’t have resources to explore previously.”

Jason Hendry, Partnerships and Development Officer with QPI whose portfolio includes researchers in the Engineering and Chemistry fields at Queen’s, recommended Dr. Kontopoulou’s project for the funding. “There was already a strong interest in the core exfoliation technology from industry. Dr. Kontopoulou’s proposed project would help broaden the commercial applications of the core technology and expand industry interest.”

And that is precisely what Dr. Kontopoulou’s team has done.

“We are seeing some exciting opportunities in supercapacitors, concrete reinforcement, hybrid composites and additive manufacturing,” says Dr. Kontopoulou. “In fact, as a result of this project, we found that the performance in supercapacitors was better than we expected.” Dr. Kontopoulou’s team is now pursuing further research in these areas. These findings can lead to more innovative applications in the automotive industry, heat sink applications such as for microchip cooling, transformer housings, radiators, and fins, as well as electronics components and actuators.

“With the results from the TDPP we will be able to expand our outreach to companies active in diverse fields, as well as explore new applications of polymer composites. What Dr. Kontopoulou’s team is doing, and the broad range of applications is very exciting,” adds Hendry.

Readers interested in licensing or learning more about the GNP technology should contact Jason Hendry at