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New Technology Could Turn Car Chassis and Walls of Your Home Into Batteries


Have you ever been caught in this unfortunate situation: your phone or other electrical device needs to be charged, but you can’t seem to find a free outlet? Or, have you ever been stuck in the middle of the winter with a dead car battery?

Well, it seems that a future in which our electrical gadgets are no longer limited by plugs and external power sources may be closer than we think.

New technology out of Vanderbilt University has the potential to store electrical energy inside a device rather than from an external plug or power source.

Imagine having a laptop in which the casing serves as the battery, an electric car powered by energy stored in the chassis, or even a home where the walls store the electricity that runs the lights and appliances! Innovations like this could drastically change how we make and use technology in today’s world.

Graduate student Andrew Westover and Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Cary Pint devised small, grey wafer-like supercapacitors that on the surface don’t look like much. But as the Economic Times reports, these devices are far more important than they appear.

“These devices demonstrate–for the first time as far as we can tell–that it is possible to create materials that can store and discharge significant amounts of electricity while they are subject to realistic static loads and dynamic forces, such as vibrations or impacts,” says Pint. The devices could be built right into the walls of a home to provide structure and stability and at the same time deliver electricity to all the surrounding appliances.

Think of it this way: a battery uses chemical reactions to store and discharge electrical energy. These supercapacitors could simply store the electricity by assembling electrically charged ions on the surface of a porous material. The result is that these devices can charge and discharge electricity in minutes, not hours, and can operate for millions of cycles instead of a battery’s thousand cycle lifetime.

Better still, these “supercaps” can still operate flawlessly went under the stress of about 44 psi and vibrational accelerations of up to 80 grams. That means that these devices could someday handle with ease the stresses of a car accelerating onto the highway and still provide ample electricity to the passengers inside. Another great improvement to the everyday home, like other devices we’ve mentioned on the blog.

“All of a sudden, the ability to design technologies at the basis of health, entertainment, travel and social communication will not be limited by plugs and external power sources,” Pint said in the Economic Times’ article.

Each and every day, new innovations like this are breaking down the walls of what technology can do and leading us ever further into the future.

photo credit: eyesore9 via photopin cc

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