Engineers at South Korea's Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology are researching the concept of graphene supercapacitors and how they can be applied to plug-in vehicle technology, Technology Review says. A simplified explanation is that the engineers have created an extremely porous version of graphene, turned it into a powder (which makes its surface area larger) and packed the powder into a cell.
The fun part is that the new graphene electrode was tested to provide almost as much charge as a fully recharged lithium-ion battery, with the amazing benefit of only needing about 16 seconds to recharge, raising interesting possibilities for applying the technology to a regenerative braking system. And the electrode was tested 10,000 times and didn't suffer capacity reduction. Cornell University published a version of the study here.
The idea of using graphene, a crystalline form of carbon, for automotive technology, is continuously being researched. Earlier this year, researchers from South Korea, Case Western University and University of North Texas said they discovered that a graphene-coated cathode may generate a greater battery current than a cathode covered with the more expensive but more traditional platinum. And in 2011, University of Technology Sydney researchers created a type of graphene "paper" that is stronger, lighter and less dense than steel. Such widespread use would enable automakers to cut vehicle weight and boost fuel efficiency as a result.