Battery-related challenges are preventing the widespread use of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). HEVs and EVs are propelled by an electric motor that is powered by rechargeable battery packs. These battery packs have faced problems that prevent HEVs and EVs from being able to travel as far as gasoline-powered vehicles. Additionally, they also take a long time to recharge. There is a critical need to find more effective ways to power HEVs and EVs. Improvements in capacitors—electronic devices that help store electricity and move it from the battery pack to the electric motor—have the potential to significantly improve the performance of these vehicles.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a supercapacitor using graphene—a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms—to substantially store more energy than current technologies. Supercapacitors store energy in a different manner than batteries, which enables them to charge and discharge much more rapidly. The Georgia Tech team approach is to improve the internal structure of graphene sheets with ‘molecular spacers,’ in order to store more energy at lower cost. The proposed design could increase the energy density of the supercapacitor by 10–15 times over established capacitor technologies, and would serve as a cost-effective and environmentally safe alternative to traditional storage methods.
If successful, Georgia Tech’s high-performance supercapacitor would enable quick charging and massive energy storage for HEVs, EVs and portable electronics.
Increased use of HEVs and EVs would decrease U.S. reliance on foreign sources of fossil fuels.
Increased use of HEVs and EVs would decrease harmful greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline-based vehicles.
Making it cheaper and easier to charge HEVs and EVs would save consumers time and money.