Britain: Nanoscale Energy Storage Material Under Development
By Boris Cambreleng | AFP
A nanoscale material developed in Britain could one day yield wafer-thin cellphones and light-weight, long-range electric cars powered by the roof, boot and doors, researchers have reported.
For now, the new technology -- a patented mix of carbon fibre and polymer resin that can charge and release electricity just like a regular battery -- has not gone beyond a successful laboratory experiment.
But if scaled-up, it could hold several advantages over existing energy sources for hybrid and electric cars, according to the scientists at Imperial College London who developed it.
Lithium-ion batteries used in the current generation of plug-in vehicles depend on dwindling supplies of lithium.
Lithium-ion batteries used in the current generation of plug-in vehicles are not only heavy, which adds to energy consumption, but also depend on dwindling supplies of the metal lithium, whose prices have risen steadily.
The new material -- while expensive to make -- is entirely synthetic, which means production would not be limited by availability of natural resources.
Another plus: conventional batteries need chemical reactions to generate juice, a process which causes them to degrade over time and gradually lose the capacity to hold a charge.
The carbon-polymer composite does not depend on chemistry, which not only means a longer life but a quicker charge as well.
Because the material is composed of elements measured in billionths of a metre, "you don't compromise the mechanical properties of the fibers," explained Emile Greenhalgh, an engineer at Imperial College and one of the inventors.
As hard a steel, it could in theory double as the body of the vehicle, cutting the weight by up to a third.
The Tesla Roadster, a luxury electric car made in the United States, for example, weighs about 1,200 kilos (2,650 pounds), more than a third of which is accounted for by batteries, which turn the scales at a hefty 450 kilos (990 pounds). The vehicle has a range of about 300 kilometers (185 miles) before a recharge is needed.
"With our material, we would ultimately lose that 450 kilos (990 pounds)," Greenhalgh said in an interview. "That car would be faster and travel further."
Vehicles with bodies crafted from the new material would likewise shed weight because it is four time lighter than steel, while remaining as strong and stiff.
"It is the sort of thing you find in tennis rackets or fishing rods -- a carbon fibre composite," Greenhalgh said.
"We aim to increase the surface area of the fibres as much as possible without degrading the mechanical properties. The larger the surface, the more electrical charge they can store."
The European Union (EU) announced last week that it would sink 3.4 million euros (4.6 million dollars) over three years into developing the new technology, with Imperial College coordinating a project spread over nine companies and institutes in Britain, Sweden, Germany and Greece.
Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has said it might build a demonstration panel into an existing electric car prototype.
Within three years, the researchers expect shave 15 percent off the weight of a car, and in five to six years, be able to integrate the material into the body.
But it will take a decade before the new material could fully replace existing batteries, Greenhalgh cautioned.
One of the question marks is cost.
Carbon fibre is a lot more expensive than steel, but mass production should bring down costs dramatically, he said.
Article from: AFP
Material bends, stretches and conducts electricity?
New material may be step towards 3D invisibility cloak
'Recordable' Proteins As Next-generation Memory Storage Materials
'Invisible' Material Key to DARPA Dream Display
Graphene: The Next Semiconductor Material?
Nanobattery created to power RFID tags
Prototype Nokia phone recharges without wires
Latest News from our Front Page
Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North.
The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night.
A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked.
The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough.
Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield.
Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants
Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July.
The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown.
The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent.
He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are.
London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race.
Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event.
|More News » |