Recent news from Stanford and RICE Universities have focused on results of advanced research being undertaken to improve battery performance. Both projects have made use of carbon fibre nanomaterials in the form of nanotubes and Graphene sheets to achieve the results.
The paintable battery project from RICE University allows the possibility of turning any surface into a battery. They employ carbon nanotubes in the paint along side lithium. Examples of use include painting the exterior surface of the house and then covering with solar panels or the same could be done for a car by covering the entire surface interior and exterior that has the potential for greatly increasing the travel range of a single charge. When combined with Spray on solar it seems likely that future vehicles will become self charging with a constant supply of energy from the sun to keep them topped up throughout the day.
The results from the Stanford research focus on using Graphene sheets to increase by 1000x the efficiency of nickel-iron batteries. As the components are abundant, cheap and long lasting this approach should enable very powerful batteries for industrial purposes.
Clearly this technology has been kept under wraps for a while and the US is allowing it to be brought to market. The question remaining is will they make it to manufactured stage before we run out of the energy to manufacture them?
In related news it seems that nanomaterial research is going to take it’s spot this year for the solar industry too in the shape of two improvements to thin film technology that utilise nanomesh and dielectric nanostructures to greatly reduce the thickness of the thin film panels and even to go so far as to allow for completely transparent surfaces that are able to absorb technically perfectly across the specific spectrum of light that they are designed to absorb.