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Throughout The Car Industry

New Material May Replace The Lithium Ion Battery

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On: Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 4:33PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

New Material May Replace The Lithium Ion Battery

There was a new discovery recently made by researchers at the Imperial College of London that may change the future of the battery, including batteries used for electric cars. A patented mixture of carbon fiber and polymer was invented that can discharge and store electricity; what does that mean to the car industry?  It could enable the body of your automobile to run your engine!

This material could actually replace lithium-ion batteries as a source of energy for plug-ins, electric grid, and more. Lithium supplies are getting more expensive as they become more limited. The process of collecting the lithium is a well-known threat to the environment, as well, so the new carbon patented energy source could be the next best option, and we may be seeing it used soon.

The new technology could also help to increase the mileage range of electric cars, making them a more viable option than combustion engine-powered vehicles; the substance is so lightweight that it could be used for almost any type of electronic device including laptops, MP3 players—you name it.

So far, not that much is known about what the stuff is made of, or exactly what can be done with it. But it makes sense that if the structural bodies of cars or laptops could be made out of energy-storage materials, then a major weight reduction of electronic products in cars could be possible. The heaviest and most space-consuming part of electric cars is currently the battery pack. Lighter weight translates to even better gas mileage for electric cars and hybrids. For example, if the material completely replaced the battery pack in the Chevy Volt, 375 pounds would be shaved off its total weight.

Cost may be a major drawback because carbon fiber is much more expensive than steel and even aluminum. So when we’re talking about market adoption for the carbon material, it’s more likely that batteries won’t be entirely replaced; small panels may be made out of the substance to extend the vehicle’s battery life and range; the material may be placed in the roof or trunk panels.

The real-life application of this technology could be a long way off. No one really knows how fast the research will be integrated into battery technology, but one thing is for sure—technology for green cars continues to advance quickly. It will be interesting to see if this new carbon fiber and polymer mixture shows up in a concept car at one of the future auto shows.


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