Motor companies Hyundai and Kia have filed a patent application for graphene as part of fuel cells. The invention is intended for use in electric vehicles.
US patent application number 20130065154 describes a design of an advanced electric fuel cell which uses graphene for strengthening the electrolyte membrane component of the cell. An electrolyte membrane fuel cell has the highest power density among the various types of fuel cells. In addition, such cells have fast start-up times and fast reaction times.
The electrolyte membrane separates the electrodes from the rest of the battery. In modern cells, such membranes are very expensive, due to their fluorine component. Ongoing research has explored hydrocarbon membranes as an economic alternative. Hydrocarbon membranes have, however, shown poor performance due to the damage they suffer during regular operation.
During battery operation, a hydrocarbon membrane repeatedly expands and contracts. Such expansion and contraction typically induces damage in the membrane, leading to short lifetimes. The invention from Hyundai and Kia solves the damage problem by impregnating the membrane with graphene nanoparticles. The graphene provides its excellent mechanical strength, while retaining the flexibility and electrical conductivity needed in the membrane.
This is the first graphene patent application we have seen from Hyundai and Kia, although other automotive companies have been using graphene to improve various parts of their cars. Late last year, Honda patented graphene for gas sensors in cars.
The present application selects graphene oxide nanoparticles as the shape of choice of