Posting in Cities
How can egg shells be used to power future electronic vehicles?
Is there something else we can do with our morning breakfast discards, rather than throwing them in the bin or using the fragments to deter slugs from eating potted plants?
Electric vehicle (EV) use is facing a problem with the prospect of widespread distribution in cities. The batteries that allow such car models to run are reliant on continual charging -- the rate of which is based on the capacitors -- and how much the cars are able charge, drain, and recharge.
Without a strong infrastructure in place to accommodate electric vehicles, coupled with the distance limits based on charging capabilities, EV use is restricted to how much power batteries and capacitors are able to offer to consumers.
Due to this, developers have been searching for the best combinations of battery and capacitor, turning to alternative materials in a bid to increase the marketability and efficiency of EV models.
According to Co.Exist, a group of Canadian scientists may have found a solution -- from chicken egg shells.
When an egg shell membrane is heated to 800 degrees, it becomes an unusually strong and efficient supercapacitor. The microstructure of the membrane is full of nitrogen groups that are able to absorb and hold charge; whereas interconnected carbon fibers become a conductor -- allowing charge to flow in and out of a capacitor quickly.
David Mitlin, the leader of the research, said:
"What we were able to achieve is [a capacitor] that looks a lot more battery-esque. What we showed is our material can hold three times as much charge as activated carbon but last just as long."
In comparison to a commercial electrode, this equates to three or four times as much charge capacity -- not to mention the economic difference between expensive nanotubes and graphene instead of animal products that are usually thrown away.
Mitlin and his colleagues hope that with further development, the altered membrane may one day be used in EVs and other devices that require electronic charge, such as mobile phones or computers.
The findings are currently being taken further into commercial routes.
Image credit: Will Merydith
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Apr 5, 2012