By Fiona MacDonald
Electric cars are often touted as the future of sustainable transport, but they’re held back by the fact that they require really heavy, slow-releasing batteries to power them – even the top-end Lithium-ion batteries on the market charge extremely slowly and weigh a lot.
A far better option would be to use supercapacitors – devices that can release energy in large bursts – but they’re unable to store as much energy as batteries, and so it would take a lot of them in order to power something as big as a car.
Scientists have instead been working on ways to combine batteries and supercapacitors in order to make batteries more powerful and lighter in the short-term. But the ultimate goal is to develop a supercapacitor that could also store large amounts of energy.
Now nanotechnologists from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia have developed an ultra lightweight supercapacitor that can easily be combined with regular batteries to dramatically boost their power while decreasing their weight – and within five years could eliminate the need for batteries altogether.
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