Periodic energy conversion in an electric-double-layer capacitor

Imri Atlas, Guy Z. Ramon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electrostatic conversion devices operate through periodic modulation of capacitance. Such devices have a wide range of configurations, involving either changes in permittivity, electrode-plate spacing or wetting area. The presented study examines, theoretically, a potential configuration of an electric-double-layer capacitor (EDLC)-based transducer, as it converts concentration and temperature oscillations into an electric alternating current. A constant voltage applied at the EDLC electrodes results in the formation of two opposite-sign EDLs, and an electric current is generated when ionic charges pass from one EDL to the other. In the examined configuration, this ionic charge transfer is induced by boundary modulation of temperature and/or concentration. To capture the oscillating dynamics of the ion distribution and ion flux, we solve the full set of Poisson-Nernst-Planck (PNP) equations coupled with the energy equation. We find that the transducer's optimal conditions for conversion, for which the device's frequency response is maximized, are governed by three main factors: low irreversible Joule heating, confined geometry, where the capacitor thickness is a close as possible to the EDL's characteristic screening length, and, most importantly, ‘tuning’ the system to a resonance frequency dictated by the interplay between geometry and characteristic time scales for mass and heat diffusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-685
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2018


  • Electric double layer capacitor
  • Energy harvester
  • Oscillatory excitation
  • Poisson-Nernst-Planck equations

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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