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back to article New lightest-ever material: Ideal power for electric car

A light-absorbing midnight-black substance dubbed Aerographite has stolen the crown for the lightest material in the world, weighing just 0.2mg per cubic centimetre. And because of its special properties, it's a serious contender to build lithium-ion batteries small and light enough to power the electronic bikes and cars of the …

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Anonymous Coward

Absorbs light rays completely...

jpg or it didn't happen.

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Re: Absorbs light rays completely...

Here ya go:

Damn... it was there a minute ago

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JDX
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Re: Absorbs light rays completely...

Um it would just be black. Not going to make a great photo :)

What about other properties such as stress/strain/etc?

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Facepalm

Re: Absorbs light rays completely...

Thatsthejoke.jpg

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JDX
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Re: Absorbs light rays completely...

Not really. In real life it WOULD look odd because you could walk around it and it would always just be a 'hole'... whereas in photos it wouldn't look odd. e.g. the Douglas Adams references...

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Light just falls into it.....

http://www.isciencetimes.com/data/images/full/2012/07/18/2339-aerographite.jpg

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Re: Light just falls into it.....

It's like those aliens in "Attack The Block".

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Coat

Re: Light just falls into it.....

Is this the "dark matter" everybody has been looking for? Not much to look at...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Light just falls into it.....

Thanks - now we know what the makkuro kurosuke in Kiki's Delivery Service are made from

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jai
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Re: Light just falls into it.....

AARrrggghhhh it's sucking the light right out of my eyes!!!!!

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Re: Kiki's Delivery Service

And the soot balls in Spirited Away (which is where I took my username from)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kiki's Delivery Service

Not to mention Totoro - Ghibli fans unite

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Sir

Can it absorb shorter wavelengths do you think?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sir

Why, are you going to be blacking-up on the beach this summer? ;)

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Re: Sir

Summer?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sir

Or you could lightly coat black cats with it and train them to run around army barracks at night quietly at top speed, you know, as a test of character ;)

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Absorbs light...

...how is it with other wavelengths of EM radiation? I suspect that a non-reflective, radar-absorbent coating that doesn't add a lot of weight to an aircraft could be useful to some folks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absorbs light...

I'd doubt it would even make it to the publishing house before the blacker than black helicopters swooped in on that one. ;)

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WTF?

Lightnessness?

"75 times lighter" And what. pray tellis the Reg unit of lightness? The nanoPachyderm?

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Re: Lightnessness?

If lightness is the reciprocal of weight, then probably the Notwen ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lightnessness?

Really - lightness is a property of an object: "her iPad was lighter than her Bulgarian Airbags".

What we are looking for here is density. I would propose the Reg adopt the MPS as the measure of density - one MPS (Member of Parliament Skull) is the density of the cranium of an average Member of Parliament. (Us US types can use the CCS - CongressCritter Skull. (Un-)Fortunately, they seem to be identical to the MPS).

This material would therefor be approximately one nanoMPS in density.

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Re: Lightnessness?

This material would therefor be approximately one nanoMPS in density.

I believe you're significantly underestimating the MPS. I think you'll find this material would be less than 1 picoMPS in density.

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Unhappy

Re: Lightnessness?

An MPS is, like, black hold dense. That is why any sensible things that enter an MPS will end up over the event horizon and never be able to return to our universe.

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MJI
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Re: Lightnessness?

Depends how you class density.

Density in mass per volume* or dense in how thick#?

I'd say average MPS is more* or less# than CCS, seem to be similar levels for most but we have a few good MPs and they have a few thick CCs.

I think the US would agree

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Re: Lightnessness?

Is this proof that vacuum is infinitely dense.

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Re: Lightnessness?

Depends if you farted!

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Maybe...but...

...if the batteries made from this stuff, which may be used in a car, can't be FULLY recharged in under 10 minutes...and give a range of AT LEAST 650km...then who cares?

Until that is possible, electric vehicles will only be a fad.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe...but...

650km and 10 minute recharge time, OR... 1500km and 6 hours recharge time. That would be enough range that you could drive all day, and let it recharge overnight. That would mean you'd only be recharging at about double the rate you discharged, which is much more reasonable. That way, not only could you support in-city running around, but longer driving trips as well.

1500km (900 miles or thereabouts) is about the limit of what can be driven on the US Interstates in one day (unless you are doing tag-team driving). That would allow you to drive all day, and if (h|m)otels had charging facilities, charge overnight while you slept. I'd guess the numbers would be roughly the same for Europe - you might have higher speeds on the Autobahn, but I'd guess you wouldn't want to put in a 12 hour day either.

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Re: Maybe...but...

..if the batteries made from this stuff, which may be used in a car, can't be FULLY recharged in under 10 minutes...and give a range of AT LEAST 650km...then who cares?

Until that is possible, electric vehicles will only be a fad.

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Why? Electric cars don't need to replace everyone's use of a car to be practical. Not everyone needs a car meeting your "must be as good as a gasoline car" specs, particularly multiple car households. An electric car that had a lower TCO than a gasoline car would attract a lot of buyers even if it had shortcomings like a range of only 250km or taking over an hour to recharge, because these buyers would never or almost never run into these shortcomings in their usage of that car. The thing keeping most people from buying electric cars today is as much the cost as the range.

This is the same flawed logic people used to claim that the iPad would be a failure, because it could never do everything a PC could do. It couldn't, and still can't, and never will, but for people who most surf the web, read email and watch videos it is a superior solution compared to a traditional PC. Hence sales of iPad and other tablets growing quickly, and PC sales growth flattening to zero and risking potential downturn in the near future.

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Coat

Re: Maybe...but...

"....you could drive all day, and let it recharge overnight."

Or, if you are Roy Orbison, you can let it recharge during the day.

Joking aside, the 10 minute recharge time might just be achievable in the not too distant future. Batteries with an energy density that'll produce an electric car having 1500km range and still somewhere to sit people inside it are rather less likely.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe...but...

I'll empatically concur with this comment. My son has been confined to bed for 2 years now. His Ipad has been 100% effective in meeting his computing needs throughout this period - many hours per day, every day. While it doesn't meet all my needs (and so is not an acceptable solution for me), for my son it is so good that he needs not to look anywhere else.

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How about some 10**-3 A batteries

you know the ones you take out when they're flat and put in new ones?

Could cause problems if you have a camper van and try swap your chem-loo container for one though....

I can imagine it now, mind: Is that the 10**-3 A for a 2013 renault or the 2013 ford or if its an iCar you have to go to an apple garage where exactly the same replacement battery costs twice as much....

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Re: Maybe...but...

I agree electric cars do not have to match petrol cars in range, but over time they do have to match them in cost / TCO to become mass market products.

At the moment the EV cars on the market are way too short of range and too long on cost to be useful to anyone but those well off enough to drive around in a fashion statement.

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Re: Maybe...but...

Why is it always assumed that you have to recharge car batteries? Why not drive onto a garage forecourt and your flat battery can be swapped for a fresh one? The garage charges up the old one at their leisure and somebody else inherits it.

Yes it would be difficult, but is it really so much harder than extracting black goop from deep underground, piping it for miles, refining it, transporting the refined goop to petrol stations and then pumping it into cars? Batteries are big and heavy so you'd need machinery to swap them, but seriously, why not?

If petrol had never existed and we'd only just invented electric powered cars, there'd be some serious work going on to create that infrastructure, guaranteed.

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Re: Maybe...but...

One data point. The new Ford Focus EV (price $30,000, range 76 miles) sports a 650lb / 200kilo battery pack.

One would need a fancy piece of industrial kit to extract such a thing and replace it with another. Not to mention that the design of every EV would need to be near identical to each other for this scheme to work.

Very impractical.

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Re: Maybe...but...

Impractical yes, but so is petrol.

My point was not so much that we should do it right now, as that it "could" be done. You'd definitely need a battery standard. I like 15' long AAs myself.

Seriously, as batteries get lighter and smaller it could happen. They don't need 30 second recharge times, if they're small and light enough to be swapped.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe...but...

Only a fad, eh? Like fossil fuels, maybe?

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Charge time

Is probably more dependent on the ampage of your supply than the battery. Not many houses could support the current required for a 10 minutes charge of a high capacity battery. And as for garages, get more than a couple of cars in and you need a big connection to the grid.

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jai
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Re: Maybe...but...

that'd make the film Vanishing Point a whole lot less interesting if he had to stop and sleep while he waited for the batteries to recharge.

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Re: Maybe...but...

@Neil Charles,

The main issue would be standards, Cars, Vans, Trucks etc are all different shapes and sizes.

If the batteries are not standardised then different manufacturers will have different batteries, these change over centre's will need massive warehouses and stocks of batteries to meet all the different requirements.

Manufacturers won't like the standards as they will be limited in what they can do with the cars.

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Re: Maybe...but...

The main problems with swappable batteries are the storage requirements and the size of the power feed to each station to deliver the required power. A warehouse and power station every 30 miles along each motorway isn't going to go down well with the locals.

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Re: Maybe...but...

One would need a fancy piece of industrial kit to extract such a thing and replace it with another. Not to mention that the design of every EV would need to be near identical to each other for this scheme to work.

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Obviously there would need to be some standards, but who says all the batteries have to come in one giant pack? What's wrong with a standard of say 20 kg battery packs, and cars can have however many they want, and they'd typically be discharged in a semi-serial fashion so if you go to the station before you're running on "E" you don't need them all replaced. You could even carry a couple spares in your trunk in case you get caught out in an area where there aren't recharging stations - something which could happen in the early years of such a standard.

This wouldn't require the location of the batteries to be standardized, only the form factor and the way they plug into the car. They could and would be in different locations for different cars. Having them plug in all around the bottom of the car would make a lot of sense, makes for easy removal and lowers the CoG nicely.

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Re: Maybe...but...

1500km (900 miles or thereabouts) is about the limit of what can be driven on the US Interstates in one day

I've done far too many one-day drives that came perilously close to, if not exceeded, your 1500km limit - here in the US, on Interstates - to find that an acceptable range, personally. In the past couple of months I drove from the Boston area to mid-Michigan, with a couple of detours to take care of some errands and pick up a passenger; that was very nearly 1500km according to Google Maps; and I drove from mid-Michigan to eastern Oklahoma, which came in at 1450km or so.

And those aren't the longest one-day drives in terms of hours behind the wheel that I've ever done, either, thanks to the rise in US speed limits over the past 20 years. Back when 55mph was still the rule in many states, I did one 18-hour drive, by myself, overnight; these days that would have pushed me well over 1500km.

I wouldn't take a pure-electric vehicle if its range was much under 2000km. Otherwise it's too close for comfort. And my guess is quoted ranges are generally under pretty favorable conditions; if you're loaded down with luggage, or climbing through the mountains, or plowing through snow, or stuck in traffic, that range will be significantly reduced.

Though frankly I don't see the appeal of EVs in the first place. Give me a small, efficient internal-combustion car that has a reasonable power/weight ratio, not one of the grossly overpowered monstrosities customers apparently insist on these days. I avoid driving whenever possible anyway. And I keep most of my vehicles for 10 years or more anyway, so I'm already saving in manufacturing energy a hell of a lot more than I'd save by going electric.

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Joke

So many uses...

...reminds one of string.

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Re: So many uses...

Do you mean SIMPSON'S INDIVIDUAL WATER ABSORB-A-TEX STRINGETTES!

That was the first thing I thought of when I read all the things this stuff was going to be good for.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: reminds one of string.

Is that your own theory?

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Meh

Hotblack

This is probably what Hotblack Desiato's stuntship was made of.

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Dammit! I was going to do the Douglas Adams reference

Missed it by this much - Don Adams will have to do instead.

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Re: Hotblack

Er, Hagunemnon battle-cruisers.....surely?

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Coat

At last

Desaster Areas Stuntship paint!

Mines the one with the towel in the pocket.

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