Thermogalvanic and Thermocapacitive Behavior of Superabsorbent Hydrogels for Combined Low-Temperature Thermal Energy Conversion and Harvesting

Mark A. Buckingham, Shuai Zhang, Yuqing Liu, Jun Chen, Frank Marken, Leigh Aldous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (SciVal)


Around two-thirds of the energy generated by the society is lost as waste heat. Thermogalvanic cells can continuously convert thermal energy directly into electrical energy. Conversely, thermocapacitors can convert and store thermal energy as thermocapacitance. Here, we report two superabsorbent monolithic polymer hydrogel matrices designed through vessel-templated synthesis, which act as soft host materials for extremely high concentrations of redox-active ions, namely, [Fe(CN)6]3-/4- and Fe2+/3+. These highly charged superabsorbent hydrogels were found to improve both electrocatalysis and ohmic resistance of the hosted redox couples, preventing electrolyte leakage, and enable the ability to perform both thermogalvanic conversion and thermocapacitive storage. An unoptimized maximum thermogalvanic power density was observed at ca. 95 mW m-2 (ΔT of 20 K), on par with other reported gelled systems. An optimized thermocapacitance density of ca. 220 F cm-2 was achieved, which is 15-fold higher than the highest previously reported. These novel systems therefore present new possibilities in both the harvesting and storage of low-grade waste thermal energy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11204-11214
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Energy Materials
Issue number10
Early online date13 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.A.B. acknowledges EPSRC for funding (Standard Research Studentship (DTP), EP/N509498/1). L.A. and J.C. acknowledge the Australian Research Council (ARC) for funding (DP170102320). S.J., Y.L., and J.C. acknowledge funding from The Australian Research Council (ARC) (nos. DP170102320 and CE 140100012) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC: U20A20338). a

Publisher Copyright:


  • energy harvesting
  • gelled electrolyte
  • thermocapacitance
  • thermoelectrochemistry
  • thermogalvanic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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