There are a lot of arguments against buying and owning an electric car, but perhaps the strongest argument is the issue of charging and range. The fact that most electric cars take a number of hours to charge and range can be so dependent on a variety of factors makes electric cars a little impractical for most traditional car owners and commuters.
But all of that is likely to change – and sooner than you think. We’ll spare you the technical details, but graphene is a carbon-based material that is far superior to the materials we currently use in our batteries in terms of charge rate, temperature control, and charge density. The price of graphene used to be extremely expensive – around 100 to 200 USD per gram back in 2015, but that price has come down now to 0.07 to 0.20 USD per gram.
Last month finally saw small scale consumer applications for lithium-graphene in batteries, and the results are incredible. It’s starting small with just power banks for charging phones and other devices, but even with these regular batteries we are seeing charge times drop from three hours to just 18 minutes for a 6,000 mAh power bank, with 10 times the number of life cycles and 3.7 times the potential discharge rate as well.
Now you may not care about power banks, but let’s remember that the same base technology is what powers electric cars. When we eventually see lithium-graphene being introduced in electric cars, we are going to get the same kind of radical improvements in performance – longer range, longer battery life span, more power, and most important of all is faster charging times. Get a strong enough charging power outlet like a Supercharger and you could charge your electric car to 400 kilometres of range in under 20 minutes – just a little more than the average time spent at a petrol station.
There are other benefits as well – lithium-graphene runs a little cooler than a full lithium battery setup and therefore needs less cooling, and they’re a little safer as well. For the time being batteries need to be a hybrid of the two materials, but the eventual goal is full graphene batteries which will have even more extreme performance attributes and be a lot safer as well. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s entirely possible.
If you’re one to save the environment, graphene production is also extremely clean and good for the planet. It doesn’t exploit child labour the way lithium and other rare earth metals currently does for production, and it can be made even from trash and biochar waste material. Graphene requirements are only going to ramp up from here as they’re usable in a huge variety of industries – from construction to agriculture to vehicle manufacturing.
How soon can we see lithium-graphene and full graphene batteries in electric cars? We’d wager in under five years we will see the first of these hitting the market, and depending on how fast we uprate our charging infrastructure it could very well spell a realistic end to the internal combustion engine in the mass market car. It’s not something we particularly welcome, but it is an inevitable future – one that’s now sustainable and doesn’t destroy the environment in the process.