Monday, 6 August 2012

Graphene gives Thomas Edison's battery a new lease of life

A rechargeable battery technology used to power early electric vehicles developed by Thomas Edison more than a century ago has been upgraded by Stanford University researchers.

The original nickel-iron battery was made at the beginning of the 20th Century to power electric cars.
The original battery consists of a cathode made of nickel and an anode made of iron, bathed in an alkaline solution.

Carbon is usually used as the conductive element - but to improve its performance, the Stanford team used graphene, a sheet of carbon just one atom thick.

The original Edison battery takes hours to charge, but the improved version charges in minutes.

The prototype battery is only powerful enough to operate an electric torch, but the team hopes that one day it will be used to power modern electric vehicles - or at least as a "power boost" source.

The battery could complement the lithium-ion batteries currently used in many electric vehicles, giving them "a real power boost for faster acceleration and regenerative braking".

It could also be used in emergency situations, when something needs to be charged very quickly.

The research appears in the journal Nature Communications.

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