A car powered by its own body panels could soon be driving on our roads after a breakthrough in nanotechnology research by a team from the Queensland Institute of Technology (QUT) in Australia. Researchers have developed lightweight and cheap “supercapacitors” that can be combined with regular batteries to dramatically boost the power of an electric car.
The discovery was made by Dr Jinzhang Liu, Professor Nunzio Motta and PhD researcher Marco Notarianni, from QUT, and fellows from Rice University in Houston, in the United States.
The supercapacitors – a “sandwich” of electrolyte between two all-carbon electrodes – were made into a thin and extremely strong film with a high power density.
The film could be embedded in a car’s body panels, roof, doors, bonnet and floor – storing enough energy to turbocharge an electric car’s battery in just a few minutes.
“After one full charge this car should be able to run up to 500km (310 miles) – similar to a petrol-powered car and more than double the current limit of an electric car“
“Supercapacitors offer a high power output in a short time, meaning a faster acceleration rate of the car and a charging time of just a few minutes, compared to several hours for a standard electric car battery.”
“In the future, it is hoped the supercapacitor will be developed to store more energy than a Li-Ion battery while retaining the ability to release its energy up to 10 times faster – meaning the car could be entirely powered by the supercapacitors in its body panels, Mr Notarianni said.
The findings, published in the Journal of Power Sources and the Nanotechnology journal, mean a car partly powered by its own body panels could be a reality within five years, Mr Notarianni said.