Since the invention of the lead-acid battery more than 150 years ago, there have been bold claims about new battery technologies. Now some researchers claim that their latest discovery about the graphene it could be the most revolutionary advancement in battery technology to date.
According to him study, published in the journal Nature by researchers from the University of Manchester, UK, Graphene membranes, also known as the new "wonder material", could be used to sift hydrogen gas from the atmosphere; a breakthrough that could pave the way to air-powered electric generators.
At the heart of the technology are graphene's remarkable physical properties:
- It is the most thin, light and resistant ever obtained: it is harder than diamond and 200 times stronger than steel.
- It is flexible and transparent
- Conduct electricity better than copper
- Only has an atom thick, that is, it is more than a million times thinner than a human hair.
According to experts, this cutting-edge substance will revolutionize everything, from smartphones and wearable technologies to green technologies and medicine.
This latest discovery makes graphene attractive for potential uses in the proton conducting membranes that are at the core of modern fuel cell technology.
Fuel cells use oxygen and hydrogen as fuel, transforming the chemical energy produced by their input directly into electricity.
However, current membranes that separate the protons needed for this process are relatively inefficient and allow contamination in the fuel mixture. The use of graphene membranes could boost their efficiency and durability.
The team found that protons passed through ultra-fine crystals with relative ease, especially at elevated temperatures and using a platinum catalyst coating on the membrane film.
However, the most surprising thing about the research has been the discovery that membranes could be used to extract hydrogen from the atmosphere. According to the scientists, this harvesting could be combined with fuel cells to create a portable electric generator powered simply by hydrogen in the air.
“Its configuration is very simple: a gas containing hydrogen is put on one side, a small electric current is applied and pure hydrogen is collected on the other side. This hydrogen can then be burned in a fuel cell, ”the researchers explain.
Currently, hydrogen is almost entirely obtained from fossil fuels.
Researchers have worked with small membranes and the hydrogen flux obtained so far is obviously small, but the research is still in the early stages of discovery.
The main goal of the article is to bring experts up to speed on existing prospects. Building and testing hydrogen harvesters will require a lot of extra effort.
The graphene revolution
Scientists are still discovering new ways to process this invisible substance and new applications for it. Since it is flexible and extensible, it looks like a ideal candidate for solar energy generation.
Although the application of graphene in solar cells has so far been only theoretical, its potential could be staggering. Solar cells made with graphene could offer an efficiency of 60%; twice the widely respected maximum efficiency of silicon cells.
In addition to its uses in the transport, where its lightness and resistance could transform the manufacture of cars and airplanes to make them more efficient in terms of fuel consumption, graphene has been studied as an anti-corrosion coating in packaging and even in condoms super fine.
In medicine, researchers say it could be used to deliver drugs to specific areas of the body; and it is already being developed as a treatment for people with brain conditions.
Its use in membrane form as a medium is also being studied. to purify the water and even to extract salt and other elements from seawater in order to convert it into drinking water.
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