Turbocharging collaborations

16 August 2016

Three grants provided under the Queensland-Chinese Academy of Sciences Collaborative Research Fund have been announced.

The projects will each receive up to $250,000 over three years for collaborative research in the areas of agricultural biotechnology and food research, human health, immunology and neuroscience, and energy.

Among the recipients is Professor Nunzio Motta from Queensland University of Technology. Together with Professor Yeugang Zhang from China's Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics, he aims to produce a low cost supercapacitor electric car battery that could overcome current drawbacks with traditional lithium batteries, such as long recharge times and short running distances.

Super capacitors are electric double layer capacitators that typically store the energy at the electrode/electrolyte interface. Akin to a 'sandwich' of electrolyte between two all-carbon electrodes, they are often used in applications requiring many rapid charge/discharge cycles rather than long term compact energy storage.

Their great advantage over conventional batteries: they are charged much faster and frequent recharging does not effect their performance.

However, at present the energy density of supercapacitors are still lower than that of standard lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries.

Professor Motta and collaborators have recently developed a graphene based supercapacitor in form of a thin and extremely strong film with a high power density. According to the researchers, a potential application of the material is to embed it in a car's body panels, roof, doors, bonnet and floor. This could store enough energy to turbocharge an electric car's battery in just a few minutes, and provide a substantial weight reduction and increases in performance.

The now funded project will investigate an optimal method for the scalable production of the graphene capacitors.

The two other funded projects include:

More information: http://statements.qld.gov.au