Research doubles electric car range

Researchers at the University of Wollongong have developed an electric car battery that allows vehicles to travel more than twice as far.

The battery, which charges in a couple of minutes, may also eventually be used to power remote devices like mobile phones, iPads and laptop computers more effectively.

Nano-engineer Professor Zaiping Guo said her team at the Institute for Superconducting & Electronic Materials (ISEM) had been trying to improve lithium-ion batteries for some time.

She said they recently made the breakthrough with the development of a new Germanium-based material with five times more energy storage than the batteries now used for electric vehicles.

"Currently, fully electric cars can only travel around 160 kilometres on a single charge," Prof Guo said.

"But by applying our nano-material engineering technology to lithium batteries, we have been able to develop a battery that can achieve a 400-kilometre driving range.

"The unique properties of the nano materials means there has also been a significant improvement in the charging capacity of the battery - it charges in about two minutes rather than a couple of hours."

Prof Guo said the development of this inexpensive manufacturing technique could be used to power the next generation of clean-tech electric cars.

"We are currently working with our industry partners, including the DLG Battery Corporation and Redarc Electronics, to commercialise the technology," she said.

"The major problem at the moment is price - the price of producing the batteries is very high. However the Germanium-based material we use is quite abundant in the earth's crust.

"So with mass production it would be possible to bring the price down to an affordable level."

Prof Guo will be one of the researchers to talk about their scientific breakthroughs at the UOW Big Ideas Festival tomorrow.

To register for this free, public event, visit www.uow.edu.au/research/news/bigideas.

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