The hike in the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) and planes presents the possibility of shifting from fossil fuels toward a better future. While vital technological advancements have dramatically increased the effectivity of these automobiles, there are nonetheless several issues standing in the best way of widespread adoption.
One of the most vital of these challenges has to do with mass, as even the most present EV batteries and supercapacitors are incredibly heavy. A research group from the Texas A&M University College of Engineering is approaching the mass concern from a unique angle.
Most of the research geared toward decreasing the mass of EVs has focused on increasing the power density, thus reducing the burden of the battery or supercapacitor itself. However, a group led by Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus, a professor in the Artie McFerrin Division of Chemical Engineering, believes that lighter EVs and planes may be achieved by storing energy inside the structural body panels. This method presents a set of technical challenges because it requires the development of batteries and supercapacitors with the same form of mechanical properties as the structural body panels.
In an article published in Matter, the analysis staff described the method of making new supercapacitor electrodes, which have drastically enhanced mechanical properties. In this work, the analysis team was in a position to create robust and stiff electrodes based on dopamine functionalized graphene. Dopamine, which can be a neurotransmitter, is a highly adherent molecule that imitates the proteins that allow mussels to stick to almost any surface. The usage of dopamine and calcium ions results in a significant improvement in mechanical efficiency.
This analysis results in an entirely new household of structural electrodes, which opens the door to the development of lighter EVs and planes.