Researchers want to improve how well a composite material consisting of carbon fibres and a polymer resin can store and discharge large amounts of energy. Could developments in semiconducting ink lead to low-cost “printable” energy storage?
At present carbon fiber would seem the material of choice and this blog proposed that printable carbon paper could be the roof of a bus instead of super capacitor modules installing on top of the roof. It seemed an inexpensive way of fabricating the material for storage as well as the power electronics for safely managing the electric power.
There also was a recent IBM announcement about semiconductor design with graphene on a silicon substrate, which suggests the possibility of electric power storage in and transfer from the car body.
And now, according to EV World News Wire, researchers have patented a material that can store and discharge electrical energy. A research team from Imperial College London and their European partners, including Volvo Car Corporation,* report that the material is strong enough and light enough for car parts.
* Editor’s note: The 3-year European Union funded project includes researchers from the Departments of Chemistry (Professor Anthony Kucernak, Professor Milo Shaffer, Dr Joachim Steinke), Aeronautics (Dr Emile Greenhalgh) and Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology (Professor Alexander Bismarck) at Imperial College London. European academic and industrial partners include Swerea SICOMP, INASCO Hella, Chalmers, Advanced Composites Group, Nanocyl, Volvo Car Corporation, Bundesanstalt Fur Material forschung undprufung, ETC Battery and Fuel Cells Sweden.
Ultimately, they expect that this material could be used in hybrid petrol/electric vehicles to make them lighter, more compact and more energy-efficient, enabling drivers to travel for longer distances before needing to recharge their cars.
In addition, the researchers believe the material, which has been patented by Imperial, could potentially be used for the casings of many everyday objects such as mobile phones and computers, so that they would not need a separate battery. This would make such devices smaller, more lightweight and more portable.
The project co-ordinator, Dr Emile Greenhalgh, from the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London, says:
“We are really excited about the potential of this new technology. We think the car of the future could be drawing power from its roof, its bonnet or even the door, thanks to our new composite material. Even the Sat Nav could be powered by its own casing. The future applications for this material don’t stop there – you might have a mobile phone that is as thin as a credit card because it no longer needs a bulky battery, or a laptop that can draw energy from its casing so it can run for a longer time without recharging. We’re at the first stage of this project and there is a long way to go, but we think our composite material shows real promise.”
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