A limited range has been the main obstacle in electric vehicle widespread adoption, however this may change for the better with the recent experimental success of some South Korean scientists.
These scientists have developed a new technology using a supercapacitor which could solve the range limitation of electric cars.
Most of the conventional lithium-ion batteries used in today’s electric vehicles have certain drawbacks.
They have limited power for the daily requirements of most drivers, are also very expensive and require frequent recharging.
The charging time for these lithium-ion batteries usually takes about an hour or so, with some even needing to be plugged in overnight.
However, a technological breakthrough has been developed by South Korean scientists that could very well put this problem to rest.
The Graphene discovery
In the process of discovering the solution, Dr. Lu Wu and his team of scientists at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology came upon an innovative use of graphene, a miracle substance.
In the strictest sense, this new technology for battery making uses a supercapacitor, instead of a battery, although both the battery and this capacitor store electricity.
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The advantage of this capacitor is that it is able to store energy using the surfaces of materials. The stored energy is actually static electricity.
Graphene is in carbon form which is about one atom thick. With that kind of thinness, it is a very suitable material for making supercapacitors.
Even with its small size, the material can cover a tremendous amount of surface area. One gram of graphene can cover an area of about 2,675 square meters.
As such, graphene supercapacitors can be used to store more energy for every kilogram compared to lithium-ion batteries.
Dr. Lu was able to produce enough amount of this material in a form which can be integrated into a supercapacitor.
He first started producing graphite oxide, and then heated this material so that the graphite will split into several graphite sheets.
Next Dr. Wu took out the excess oxygen and finally he integrated the graphene sheets inside a supercapacitor.
The final product was successful. It was able to store energy per given weight just like a lithium-ion battery.
The material can also be charged up in less than just four minutes, which is significantly less than other batteries.
Dr. Wu projects that a more refined version of his discovery will eventually surpass the storage capacities of Lithium-ion batteries.
Now, the next logical step for its development is the scaling up of the graphene technology and eventually commercializing the material.
More about miracle material graphene
The material was first discovered by two Russian scientists, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov in 2013.
Graphene is actually made of carbon atoms, bonded together and arranged in a kind of honeycomb lattice.
Many have claimed that graphene is a wonder material because of its excellent properties and a wide range of applications.
It can be used in extremely delicate products such as artificial retinas and smartphone screens.
Its strength is 200 times that of steel, more flexible than rubber, and more conductive than copper.
Graphena CEO Jesus de La Fuente, states that
“Carbon is the second most abundant mass within the human body and the fourth most abundant element in the universe (by mass), after hydrogen, helium and oxygen. This makes carbon the chemical basis for all known life on earth, so therefore graphene could well be an ecologically friendly, sustainable solution for a limitless number of applications,”.
Photo courtesy of Samsung Tomorrow