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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Ranjan Dash, 32

Nanoporous carbon could help power hybrid cars

Y-Carbon

Problem: Ultracapacitors, which last longer than conventional batteries and can deliver stronger bursts of power, hold great promise as energy-storage devices for applications such as hybrid electric vehicles. But ultra­capacitors typically can't store as much energy as batteries, so they need to be recharged frequently. That drawback has limited their use.

Solution: As a graduate student in materials science at Drexel University, Ranjan Dash used a novel chemical recipe to engineer nanoscopic pores into the carbon materials used in ultracapacitors. The tiny pores, whose size can be tuned with subnanometer precision, provide more surface area for charged particles to stick to, doubling the amount of energy the ultracapacitors can hold. Dash cofounded Y-Carbon, a startup based in King of Prussia, PA, to commercialize the technique, and he now serves as its chief technology officer. He says that his company has already developed a prototype ultracapacitor. The plan is to partner with other companies to develop this and other applications for the porous material, which Y-Carbon will manufacture. The first ultracapacitor products could be on sale in about two and a half years, Dash says. --Neil Savage

2009 TR35 Winners

Ranjan Dash

Nanoporous carbon could help power hybrid cars

Cody Friesen (video)

Making cheaper, higher-energy batteries to store renewable energy

Kurt Zenz House

Capturing carbon dioxide through cement production

Andrew Perlman (video)

Slashing carbon emissions by converting coal into natural gas

Cyrus Wadia

Identifying materials that could be unexpectedly useful in solar cells

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