Graphene - not just for pencils
Graphene has been touted as the material of the future. A single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice that is the strongest material ever tested, lighter than paper and with a lower electrical resistance than silver.
What could we use it for in the energy industry?
Being one of the lightest and the strongest materials ever tested, Graphene could be used as wind turbine blades to reduce the weight and improve the efficiency of the turbines in turn increasing output. The same could be said for solar panels, reducing the weight would allow better placement of panels on older buildings and more remote areas. Graphene is also being talked about as a replacement for current solar panels themselves with some scientists testing the ability to convert rainwater (through a chemical reaction between graphene and positive ions in rainwater) to electricity with graphene solar panels.
Energy storage is also going through the graphene innovation with traditional batteries being replaced with longer lasting, cheaper and more efficient models and graphene fits into this. Graphene can be turned into carbon nanotubes that could be used as super-capacitors as the electrical resistance is the lowest ever observed. This could be groundbreaking as there is no degradation of materials like a lithium-ion battery and a battery could be charged in seconds rather than hours. These batteries are already being trialled in bikes, laptops and buses!
More research is needed but the future for graphene looks bright and if some studies are to be believed then graphene could eventually give us limitless clean power forever.
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