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Brain chemical could help solve weight issues for electric vehicles

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 2 years ago
  • Author: James Kenealey

  • Biologically inspired composites are being used in electrodes batteries to help reduce weight for electric cars and within the aerospace industry

  • Performance in electric vehicles is often hampered by the weight of batteries

Biological components such as dopamine are being used in electrode batteries to help solve the weight issues prevalent in electric vehicles and in the aerospace industry.

Batteries have proven to be the stumbling block for the performance of electric vehicles and the aerospace industry due to their significant weight. The issue lies in that the conducting materials and compounds used in the construction of batteries are weighty. 

Structural energy and power is an emerging field that combines the mechanical properties of structural composites with the energy-storage properties of batteries and supercapacitors.

Batteries and super capacitors that possess the mechanical properties of structural composites are desirable for electric vehicles and within the aerospace industry because it theoretically allows for energy to be stored within structural panels and hence allow for significant mass savings. 

A Texas-based chemical engineering team claim to have made significant progress towards solving the issue through their study of the brain chemical dopamine, a sticky substance that mimics proteins found in the materials that shellfish use to fasten themselves to other materials.

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The team led by chemical engineer Jodie Lutkenhaus, chemically bonded the dopamine to graphene oxide before combining the it with the material commonly known as Kevlar. This results in a composite that is strong, tough, incredibly light and has the conductive properties that make it ideal to be used as an electrode.

The ultimate plan with this material is to use it to form a kind of super capacitor, an energy storage device which can be charged and discharged very quickly.

The material is also both strong and light enough to be used in the outer casing of a vehicle, meaning that the entire frame would act as the battery, dramatically reducing the overall weight of the vehicle.

Morson’s Canning Town branch has recently adopted its first fully electrical vehicle in order to help reduce emissions. The vehicle is undergoing rigorous testing to compare its viability to traditional vehicles in order to ascertain whether further expansion of the fleet is the best option.

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