From cameras, laptops, power tools and essentially everything else that runs off of portable power, the batteries being used by gadgets worldwide are becoming smaller, lighter, and more flexible than ever before. Now, with a recent development and a new project beginning out of Imperial College London, automobile batteries may also be on their way to receiving a very dramatic makeover.
The project being undertaken at Imperial College aims to develop a prototype material that can store and discharge electrical energy and is also strong and lightweight enough to be used for car parts. 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. However it’s expected that this technology could spill over and be used for the casings of devices such as mobile phones and computers.
“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,” said project coordinator, Dr Emile Greenhalgh from the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London. “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.”
The composite material is made of carbon fibres and a polymer resin, and should store and discharge large amounts of energy much more quickly than conventional batteries. In addition, it doesn’t use chemical processes, making it quicker to recharge than conventional batteries. The material could be charged by plugging a hybrid car into household power supply. The researchers are also exploring other alternatives for charging it such as recycling energy created when a car brakes.
Category: Battery News