Edison’s Electric Car Battery Gets Graphene Conductor

One of Thomas Edison’s inventions was rolled out last week and given a sprinkling of modern fairy dust in the form of graphene.

StanfordUniversity researchers have added graphene to a rechargeable nickel-iron battery design invented by Thomas Edison over 100 years ago and used to power 19th century electric cars.

The Stanford researchers used graphene as the conductive element growing nanocrystals of iron oxide onto graphene, and nanocrystals of nickel hydroxide onto carbon nanotubes.

The charging rate of the battery went up 1000 times reducing the time it took to recharge it from hours to minutes.

The Stanford team think that their modification to the Edison battery could see it, once again, used in electric cars.

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21 Comments

  1. Fabio007
    July 17, 2012 11:59

    @Scunnerous: Hello again. May I respond to your points.
    1. “I don’t think this is really a suitable forum…”. I was merely pointing out that, although “fast-charging” batteries is often promoted as a way to overcome concerns about the length of time it may take to re-charge an EV, there are other very simple options that avoid the resultant problems of “fast charging” such as high peak power demand and massive conductors, as you rightfully point out.
    2. I do agree that including EVs in the mix of our transport options will require some issues in infrastructure to be addressed. But “spikes” in electricity demand are in fact an important issue, one that EVs will actually help with. Certainly in Australia, the ratio of peak to average demand within one day is typically 2:1. For example:
    http://www.nathers.gov.au/about/pubs/NATHERS-Peak-Load-Performance-Module-Research-FINAL-REPORT_UniSA_September-2009.pdf
    It is exactly this high ratio of peak-to-average electricity demand that has resulted in billions of dollars of new transmission infrastructure being installed in Australia (along with some high-cost generation capacity for peak loads), while there has been almost no increase in base-load power generation. This spending has been driven by the extremely “peaky nature” of our load, and has resulted in domestic electricity bills here in Australia increasing by as much as 55% over the last 5 years…!! The batteries associated with EVs could have an important role to play in providing much needed energy storage to provide some “load levelling”, which allows more effective utilisation of existing transmission and generation assets, which could delay necessary infrastructure spending by several years.
    3. As to whether “we’d need a much bigger “base load” if EVs are widely adopted: that may apply to electrical markets where the peak-to-average demand is much lower than Australia, but in Australia there is significant scope for simply using our existing electricity generation and transmission capacity more effectively by using the energy storage offered by a well-devised EV integration solution.
    Furthermore, energy storage is the key to more cost-effective integration of renewable energy sources into the electrical supply system, sources that by their nature cannot be relied upon to be available when the demand is present. This will lead to renewables becoming more cost effective, increase the adoption of renewables, and so will reduce the reliance upon base-load power generation.

  2. David Manners
    July 13, 2012 00:30

    Because Mike, it was raining so there were no taxis and the Gaylord (where you wanted to go to) is miles away and you wouldn’t go to the Bombay Brasserie on the grounds it was too expensive (even though you weren’t paying) which was about 50 yards away from the conference hotel.

  3. Mike Bryant
    July 13, 2012 00:07

    @Chris : Adrian is top of my list !!!
    @Scunnerous : Mannerisms is the forum to discuss everything that matters to humanity :-) Including why we ended up at a crap Indian restaurant this evening rather than going to the Gaylord in Soho !!

  4. Chris
    July 12, 2012 12:15

    What about Adrian Newey (Racing cars – Williams. McLaren, Red Bull.

  5. Scunnerous
    July 12, 2012 10:15

    Fabio007: Sorry but I don’t think there’s anything at the likes of abcnews or wired.com which I don’t already know about, including several suggestions for battery replacement, regeneration and storage. I don’t think this is really a suitable forum for detailed discussion of the logistics involved in PEVs, or their potential evolution and adoption.
    There are many complex issues in the infrastructure but I would point out that this is not a about “spikes” in electricity demand and we’d need a much bigger “base load”, which is currently made up from coal and nuclear in most countries. All I wanted to point out here is that the fast-charge battery only shifts the problem to a different part of the supposed solution.
    My personal opinion is that we will continue to have liquid fuels for a long time, even if it eventually means chemical conversion starting from gases. Liquids are just so easy to handle and store.

  6. AnotherAnonymous
    July 12, 2012 08:58

    A very fast charging battery would be perfect for a vehicle that uses ‘regen’, a system where the motor doubles as a brake and the energy is fed back to the battery.

  7. Frank Mercado
    July 11, 2012 20:59

    I would add Rory Byrne to the F1 list him and Adrian are the best aerodynamicists out there (Although Rory is retired).
    About the actual thread. With the WHO officially considering diesel as a carcinogen and with the rise of oil prices, I predict that electric cars will be ready available for city use within the next two decades.
    I agree though that the future is in Hydrogen. Just need to get more efficient ways to produce it. We will get there I’m sure.

  8. Mike Bryant
    July 11, 2012 16:57

    I’d propose
    From F1 :
    Adrian Newey (and should be the overall winner – he’s on a par with Brunel et al)
    Colin Chapman
    Gordon Murray
    John Barnard
    From Rallying :
    Jean-Claude Vaucard
    Sergio Limone
    Marcello Gandini
    From the road :
    Malcolm Sayer
    Alec Issigonis
    Henry Ford

  9. David Manners
    July 11, 2012 15:35

    OK Robertl the poll will run on Monday with just your contenders on the polling list – unless anyone else suggests a name in the meantime

  10. RobertI
    July 11, 2012 15:31

    That wasn’t intended as a full list… I would say that Bentley was a great engine designer (ditto Henry Royce) rather than car designer. Being more interested in competion cars than road cars my nominations are definitely light in the latter category!

  11. Robtronics
    July 11, 2012 14:09

    The logistics of electric car use are pretty scary. Using more or less the same distribution infrastructure we now use for oil we could convert to hydrogen.
    I know the energy density of the stuff is low and we haven’t got a super cheap, fit for purpose fuel cell yet. The great advantage of hydrogen is that it represents a way of storing and transporting electricity, however it is produced.
    There are huge geothermal resources around the world but many are very remote and the cost of cabling means that using them for any but local use is impossible. A similar problem prevails for using solar energy from the world’s sunniest places.
    The distribution network could cope with ICE as well as electric powered cars of course.
    No, hydrogen is not more dangerous than petrol or gas. Look up the Los Alfaque disaster (1978) when an LPG tanker caught fire on a Spanish campsite. In fact when hydrogen escapes it goes up, which is a lot better than coming down and chasing you as petrol and gas do.

  12. Fabio007
    July 11, 2012 10:25

    @Scunnerous: Hello. Just to address some of your concerns: to eliminate “range anxiety” it is not necessary to “fast-charge” the battery in the car; there is always the option of just swapping out the depleted battery with a fully-charged one. This is not a new idea; in fact it has been proposed for standard red-ox batteries with liquid electrolytes (such as those based on the Vanadium and Bromine chemistries), where the tank of “spent” electrolyte is simply emptied and the tank of “fresh” electrolyte is refilled. The time it would take to do this would be about the same as filling your cars fuel tank now. There are no huge spikes of electrical power required, the electrolyte can be converted from “spent” to “fresh” using minimum cost base-load power generators.
    In addition to this idea, it is possible do something like this using standard battery technology: just swap out the entire battery! A company called Better Place has already started pilot schemes for this idea in Israel and Australia. The other benefit: the buyer of the electric car does NOT buy the battery out-right: they simply “use” the battery and pay for the energy used. This reduces the initial cost of the electric car, and makes the economics more in line with our existing fossil-fuel powered cars: you pay for what you use.
    Here are some links that may be of help:-
    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/place-live-battery-switch-stations/story?id=13742428
    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/05/better-place/
    cheers.

  13. Dr Bob
    July 11, 2012 10:08

    and that’s without considering that no charger is 100% efficient. Assuming 90% (optimistic) then that leaves about 100 kW going somewhere as heat, presumably inside the vehicle (oven?)

  14. Scunnerous
    July 11, 2012 00:22

    Philip Dawson: I just explained to you why you cannot “recharge your batteries in 15 minutes”: a MW per “pump” from where exactly? Where is the infrastructure? Is every recharge station going to have a nuclear power station? Even if you halve the desired range, i.e. more frequent stops, it doesn’t change total power requirements. Do you really want to be messing with charge attachments with hundreds of volts to get the current down? The whole thing is a fraud being foisted on ignorant consumers.

  15. David Manners
    July 10, 2012 23:25

    OK RobertI those will be the choices in Monday’s poll. But not Morris, Daimler, Bentley, Ferrari, or Royce? Are you sure?

  16. RobertI
    July 10, 2012 23:20

    A few suggestions:
    Henry Ford (road cars)
    Alec Issigonis (road cars)
    John Cooper (competition cars)
    Colin Chapman (competition cars)
    Gordon Murray (both)
    Ben Bowlby (competition cars)
    Patrick Head (competition cars)

  17. Philip Dawson
    July 10, 2012 11:28

    @Scunnerous
    There are two problems preventing electric cars having widespread use. Cost and “range anxiety”. If you can pull in to your filling station and recharge your batteries in 15 minutes, similar to filling up with petrol, range would be less of a problem. You could always slow charge at night at home, you don’t have to fast charge.

  18. David Manners
    July 10, 2012 08:02

    Of course you can Stooriefit, but you’ll have to tell me the names of the contenders because I know b. all about car designers.

  19. Stooriefit
    July 10, 2012 07:51

    Oooh! Can we have a poll on the 10 greatest car designers sir, please?
    I know this is a semiconductor blog, but it is the end of term sir, after all, sir!

  20. Mike Bryant
    July 09, 2012 19:11

    Interesting program about Gordon Murray last night (3rd greatest car designer of all time) pointing out that saving 10% of weight from each car would save far more than any messing about with electric cars that nobody wants.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01f11hp/How_to_Go_Faster_and_Influence_People_The_Gordon_Murray_F1_Story/

  21. Scunnerous
    July 09, 2012 11:41

    It’s all very well to have a fast charge battery but nobody talks about where the current is going to come from and of course they talk of hooking up with cables.
    To get a similar driving experience to a gasoline car you need a 150kWh battery, which to charge in 10mins needs about a megawatt… which is going to come from where? And you need a buss bar of more than 3″ diameter for household voltages, not a cable.

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