If we can extend the distances that cars can travel between charge points we will instantly make them more popular, said Professor Forsyth. But how will the batteries cope with the real-life strains of driving? Electric cars like all other vehicles are not driven smoothly. Dramatic peaks in power demand as drivers accelerate will stress the battery and potentially limit its lifespan.
To test whether prototype graphene batteries and supercapacitors are up to the job, Professor Forsyth will expose them to real world stresses that mimic different driving profiles. We can even test the technology for driving in extreme weather conditions, explained Prof. Forsyth. Many batteries struggle to perform in cold conditions, but our weather chamber will reveal any weaknesses.
Of course, graphene-based storage is not limited to transport. It could play a major role in the future of the National Grid as Britain becomes ever more dependent upon renewable energy. If we rely on solar and wind power to produce energy, what will happen when clouds block the sun and the wind is just a breeze? asked Professor Forsyth. If we can develop high capacity electrical storage, operators will be able to store electricity for times of low generation.
A grid-scale battery and converter system is being installed on Manchesters campus to test large scale electrical storage. Researchers will use the battery system to develop methods to control the flow of electricity and reconcile differences between power generation and local demand.
Article originally published on EE Times Europe.