A UK start-up led by veterans of the hydrogen sector has launched what it claims is a breakthrough energy storage technology that it hopes can take on industry-leading lithium-ion batteries.

Superdielectrics this week launched its “hybrid energy storage technology,” which it calls Faraday 1.

The Cambridge-based start-up said it has combined “electric fields (physics) and conventional chemical storage (chemistry)” to create a new aqueous polymer-based supercapacitor.

The start-up developed the tech with researchers at the University of Bristol, who “identified and validated the key mechanisms involved.”

Superdielectrics is commercialising technology arising from fundamental scientific research carried out at Bristol and the University of Surrey into aqueous polymers with what are described as “exceptional electrochemical properties”.

According to the start-up, this allows its technology to overcome the disadvantages that have hampered supercapacitors – which store energy in magnetic fields – in comparison to conventional batteries, while also offering positive advantages.

Energy storage is crucial to helping bring more intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar onto grids, helping to smooth out their natural fluctuations in output.

Pumped hydro storage and lithium-ion batteries dominate the energy storage sector currently but both have issues. Hydropower is limited to very specific mountainous geographies, while lithium-ion batteries rely on expensive critical minerals and have a habit of occasionally bursting into flames.

The technology behind the Faraday 1 has completed over 1 million hours of testing, said Superdielectrics.

This has created a system that it claims can already “significantly outperform” lead-acid batteries – a commonly used type of battery that has relatively low power density.

Superdielectrics claimed its technology also “has the potential, with further development, to match or exceed existing lithium-ion batteries.”

The technology charges over ten times faster than lead-acid batteries and has a high cycle life, said Superdielectrics. It also has a “negligible fire risk”.

The new technology is also low cost as it uses “readily available abundant raw materials,” said Superdielectrics.

Jim Heathcote, CEO of Superdielectrics, claimed: “The properties that our technology possess enables it to compete with and exceed current solutions in the energy storage arena across a number of key metrics whilst leading the way in sustainability, recyclability and affordability.”

Heathcote and Superdielectrics finance chief Marcus Scott in its early years led ITM Power, the hydrogen fuel cell and electrolyser specialist that was one of the first movers in the H2 sector.

Professor David Fermin, head of the University of Bristol Electrochemistry and Solar Team, said that these “state-of-the-art supercapacitors have the potential to become a game-changer in energy storage.”