What is perceived as the main barrier to seeing an electric vehicle (EV) in every driveway? Simple: a range that's too short and charging times that are too long. Now, what if a battery technology was developed that would allow you could drive for 500 miles straight and then recharge the battery in 10 minutes? Exactly. There would be a lot wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who just sank billions into tar sand projects and pipelines.
If that's the sort of karmic comeuppance you dream of, then you might be in luck in just a few short years. Researchers at Northwestern University have come up with a lithium-ion battery electrode they say would allow for 10 times the capacity of today's batteries and could charge ten times faster. And it could be on the market in three to five years.
The breakthrough was arrived at by layering silicon (the green spheres in the diagram above) between sheets of graphene and then creating small holes in those sheets. If you're so inclined, you can geek out on a thorough description of the process here. Of course, it's wise not to count unhatched battery-operated chickens, but if you consider that this is just one of the many recent breakthroughs in energy storage, it's hard not to be optimistic about a transportation transformation in the very near future.