This article discusses various aspects of nanoscale materials that are seen to revolutionize energy storage. Teams of researchers working around the globe are finding that as the materials in batteries and capacitors become more finely engineered, they increase their energy storage capabilities. Within a decade, nanomaterial-based batteries and capacitors could find themselves not just in power tools and cell phones, but in uninterruptible power supplies, electric vehicles, and even the electric grid, to help handle wind and solar energy. The new lithium-ion battery relies on nanoparticles in its electrolyte to provide greater energy density and longer cycle life than conventional batteries. As batteries are playing such a prominent role, researchers are working hard to improve them, eliminating such headaches as recharge memory and packing more energy into each cubic inch. Studies show that distributed electricity generation from solar panels or combined heat and power systems could be backed up with a refrigerator-size capacitor unit that could store excess energy. The promise of nanotechnology-enhanced energy storage is enough to make anyone see a limitless future. A123’s Fulop cautions that nano-based storage systems ought to be looked at with optimism tempered by caution.

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