Yes, one day, you too may be able to fully recharge your plug-in vehicle's battery in the amount of time it takes to decelerate down one of those runaway truck ramps. Assuming your brakes actually work, of course.
Engineers at South Korea's Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology are researching the concept of graphene supercapacitors and how they can be applied to plug-in vehicle technology, Technology Review says. A simplified explanation is that the engineers have created an extremely porous version of graphene, turned it into a powder (which makes its surface area larger) and packed the powder into a cell.
The fun part is that the new graphene electrode was tested to provide almost as much charge as a fully recharged lithium-ion battery, with the amazing benefit of only needing about 16 seconds to recharge, raising interesting possibilities for applying the technology to a regenerative braking system. And the electrode was tested 10,000 times and didn't suffer capacity reduction. Cornell University published a version of the study here.
The idea of using graphene, a crystalline form of carbon, for automotive technology, is continuously being researched. Earlier this year, researchers from South Korea, Case Western University and University of North Texas said they discovered that a graphene-coated cathode may generate a greater battery current than a cathode covered with the more expensive but more traditional platinum. And in 2011, University of Technology Sydney researchers created a type of graphene "paper" that is stronger, lighter and less dense than steel. Such widespread use would enable automakers to cut vehicle weight and boost fuel efficiency as a result.