A Step Towards Electricity as the Future of Transportation
There have been many modes of transportation using electricity as power source. From simple electric bikes to huge vehicles capable of matching the power from conventional engines. Furthermore, electric vehicles will benefit the environment by reducing the demand for fossil fuels and greatly reducing the harmful emission from transportation. However, with all these advantages, there are drawbacks as well. The most common problem researchers face in developing electric vehicles is the energy capacity. Battery can store huge amount of energy but takes a long time to charge. Capacitors charge and discharge rapidly but store very little energy. Therefore, researchers focus on supercapacitors which combine the strength of both materials.
Researchers from Texas A&M University College of Engineering approached the problem by optimizing the current structure of electric vehicles which is the combination of battery and supercapacitors. The team led by Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus, professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, focuses on improving the type of material used for the design. This is done by creating a new electrode material based on dopamine-functionalized graphene, Calcium ions, and Kevlar nanofibers which demonstrated an improved performance of supercapacitors. Although some electrode materials have a higher mechanical or electrochemical performance, the material in the study holds the highest efficiency if both mechanical and electromechanical performance are considered for graphene-based electrodes. In the future, the researchers hope to apply this technology to batteries.
This study opens many possibilities for the future of electric transportation. Higher energy capacity on lighter vehicles will help with the transition from conventional engine to a more sustainable mode of transportation which will benefit not only the consumers, but also the environment as well.
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