Scientists have revealed news that could change the way we enjoy life in the future. A newly discovered form of carbon graphite – the material found in pencil lead – has turned out to have a completely unanticipated property which could completely modernise the development of green energy and electric cars.
Here’s the technical bit- researchers have found that graphene permits positively charged hydrogen atoms or protons to pass through it despite being completely resistant to all other gases, notably including hydrogen itself.
The repercussions of the remarkable discovery are vast as this could dramatically escalate the efficiency of fuel cells, which produce electricity directly from hydrogen, the scientists said.
The breakthrough promotes the vision that extracting hydrogen fuel from air and burning it as a carbon-free source of energy in a fuel cell to produce electricity and water with no damaging waste products is on the horizon.
Graphene was only discovered a decade ago but it has been nothing short of an astonishment to scientists. It’s the thinnest known material, and just to put it into perspective, it is a million times thinner than human hair, but is more than 200 times stronger than steel. Not only can it boast these elements but it is also the world’s best conductor of electricity too.
It wasn’t thought as a possibility that being permeable to protons could happen in a practical fashion up until now. That was until an international team of scientists led by none other than Sir Andre has shown that the one-atom thick crystal acts like a chemical filter. Sir Andre shares the 2010 Nobel Prize for his work on graphene so he knows its capabilities. Graphene allows the free passage of protons but forms an impenetrable barrier to other atoms and molecules, great news I hear you say!
Not only is graphene 200 times stronger than steel, it is also exceptionally light. It is thought to be the first two-dimensional material due to the fact that it forms sheets of crystal that are a mere one atom thick.
It seems that the limits of capabilities are endless for graphene. It is also being developed as a new material for membranes involved in separating liquids. There’s a possibility that it could be used to purify water in the developing world and or create more competent purification plants.
Scientists are confident that graphene’s extraordinary strength and low weight can be tied in to the making of new composite materials and polymers for the transport industry which would make travel safer and as well as being more fuel efficient.
And now, it seems, graphene may additionally be used to create new ways of generating clean electricity using hydrogen fuel cells, and even as a technology for harvesting hydrogen fuel from air.
We’re just dazzled by these new revelations coming from the world of scientific development. Can you image making your way to you Isle of Wight luxury camping destination on a fraction of the fuel, or going on Yorkshire yurt holidays without worrying about the damage to the environment on the way?
Let’s hope we see these new advancements making a change soon!