Battery-free electric cars possible with graphene-based supercapacitors, according to research

Tesla Model S-05

A study conducted by researchers at Rice University and the Queensland University of Technology have resulted in the creation of a graphene-based supercapacitor film that could possibly replace the need for a conventional battery in electric cars.

Construction for the supercapacitor consists of two layers of graphene with an electrolyte layer sandwiched in the middle – creating a thin and durable film that is able to disperse large amounts of energy in a short amount of time. Being made from graphene allows for the layer of carbon to measure in at one atom thick.

Naturally, this would help with the packaging of the vehicle as the film can be incorporated into different parts of the car – from the body panels to the roof and even the doors. Another added benefit is the fact that carbon is more easily sourced compared to lithium, allowing for lower entry costs in terms of manufacturing.

B Class Electric Drive-11

Another immediate benefit of the supercapacitor film technology is apparent in charging time. According to the researchers, the system is able to achieve a full charge within minutes rather than the required few hours of a more conventional battery.

With the inclusion of the film, researchers are aiming for a future where electric cars will no longer require a batter. Instead developing a system capable of a maximum range of 500 kilometres – more or less the same as a petrol-powered car.

“In the future, it is hoped the supercapacitor will be developed to store more energy than a Li-Ion battery while retaining the ability to release its energy up to 10 times faster,” adds Jinzhang Liu, one of lead researchers.

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Gregory Sze

An “actor” by training, Gregory Sze realised that he has had enough of drama in his life. Following his number one passion (acting was actually number two), he decided to make the jump into the realm of automotive journalism. He appreciates the simple things in life – a simple car with nothing but back-to-basics mechanical engineering and minimal electronics on board.



  • interesting development..start investing in TNB’s share instead of Petronas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
    • Heng Lee on Nov 15, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Petronas would still have the distribution network. And crude oil cannot be replaced in the chemical industry yet.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • Roy Kim Wei on Nov 15, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    It’s still battery (but better) isn’t? Just not the conventional battery as we familiar with…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6
  • Sam's Best Friend on Nov 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Will not be put to production… unless the manufactured super capacitors requires hydrocarbons, crude oil to manufacture, ensuring profits of big oils. plus the supercaps need to be replaced every year. if it is low maintenance, last forever, requires less fossil fuel in its production and usage….magical things dont happen because of profits and profit driven companies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9
  • MecEng on Nov 15, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Yup, they are called Capacitor Banks. Used to store and discharge electrical power

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  • Alex (Member) on Nov 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Caps is good as what they say. but freakin grant despo trolls never say that caps can output half of the input due to inherent property of caps. another grant despo ‘research’ who cheats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6
  • zeebee on Nov 15, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    battery free car?
    please make battery free smartphones first

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2
    • trollolol on Nov 15, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      don’t jump too quick into smartphone, battery-free my air-con remote control first. damnnit !

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
  • Rinnegan on Nov 15, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    No doubt this a promising breakthrough. However the only worries are the oil company will never let this technology become available publicly. Who knows, they might just bought this technology and keep it from ever seeing daylight….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 2
  • if accident battery life can be significantly reduced.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Jimmy on Nov 15, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Does Mr Liu Jin Zhang work in University of Malaya and he is the head of this scientific research?
    Hey, who made him a lead researcher? Shouldn’t the head be Mr John Smith?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4
    • Jimmy on Nov 15, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      The easiet way not to provide an explaination (because nil) but don’t want most people to try to think about the meaning or issue is to divert the topics: hey, you are drunk, hey nobody understand your malglish, and talk about small things seemingly defective in the statement to make it the point of arguement, etc etc.
      Attack that person first so that most people will not think too much and disbelieve whatever that the guy said; the few cleverer ones who understand him will need great effort to clarify the situations and most likely only can influence a minority of the misled majority.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6
  • Keith on Nov 16, 2014 at 4:22 am

    Sounds very good but how would these capacitors function in the winter below zero

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • Supercapacitors work better than batteries in extreme cold because there is no chemical reaction involved

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
      • KangKungKing on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:00 am

        SUPA capacitor discharge and deplete fast..
        Energy not stay longer than battery.
        BUt the physical electorn charge and discharge moment are surprisingly fast!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • Mazdapro on Nov 16, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I think Mazda already has it for the current M6 & M3 sold in Malaysia which uses the capacitor to charge/discharge during the I-Eloop activity. Meaning Mazda is the first?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
    • Mozdo on Nov 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Supercapacitors are already in use in cars, mostly to support engine stop/start systems and in Mazda the I-Eloop systems to store kinetic energy recovery.

      None of the supercaps in use today can take take the place of Li-ion batteries because they just cannot store near as much energy. This article story proposes that this Graphene technology may change this soon.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  • honest on Nov 16, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Now this is another breakthrough in science
    We can expect a flying car in the future if this is realised

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • honest on Nov 16, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Pair it with solar technology…in the end free charging

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  • Hope this will be a reality.

    But wait…our current Gov will tax 1000% of these type of cars so how to afford one?
    Toyota Prius C – RM153K
    Battery Free Electrice Car – RM1.5Million lol

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
  • armandd on Nov 16, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Big batteries are always scary when they are shorted. I can’t imagine what damage this supercap can do when they accidentally shorted out (during service or accident). Hope the inventor do something about this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
    • well supercap are not chemical batteries. They don’t produce heat like batteries so where Li-ion batts may burst into flames when shorted, supercaps remain intact and are serviceable when shorted. Of course whatever material causing the short will be seriously damaged.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
    • KangKungKing on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:03 am

      both batteries n supa capacitor could be exploded in high temp..

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
      • Anything can explode with high temp. The issue is batteries generate this high temp, gases, combustion etc internally when shorted. Batteries have high internal resistance.

        Supercaps have miniscule internal resistance, hence it can charge/discharge very quickly without problem and with little heat generated. This is why supercaps are typically used as Power devices, not Energy storage devices like batteries.

        You can short a supercap and probably you will be hurt from the electrical shock but the supercap itself will be fine and re-usable. You short a Li-ion battery and it will be damaged and cause surrounding damage including you.

        With this Graphene technology it seems now supercaps can have much higher energy density (Wh/kg) that it can possibly be used as an Energy storage device like batteries.

        Li-ion cell energy density can reach 300Wh/kg these days yet the best Supercaps can only do 5Wh/kg. Far cry. But when it comes to Power (how fast charge/discharge) Supercaps are ‘Super’ while Li-ion batts are poor

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
    • zaizaizai on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Did you mean reverse-polarized?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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