Could part of the solution to reducing global carbon emissions lie in carbon itself? It’s a question researchers at our School of Engineering are attempting to answer.
Formed entirely from carbon, graphene is a remarkable material. It’s infinitesimally thin. It’s capable of conducting electricity. It can suspend millions of times its own weight.
Our advanced materials and sustainable energy researchers are currently working on cutting-edge applications for graphene that could have very big implications.
In particular, they are looking at the role graphene can play in energy storage. Innovation in this field could be a big factor in helping the UK to meet its emissions targets. Manufacturers of all-electric vehicles aim to make major in-roads into the UK car market with cost-effective and sustainable alternatives to fossil-fuel cars. But they first need to develop low cost, high performance energy storage devices such as supercapacitors or Li/Na ions batteries to power them.
It might sound like something from Back to the Future, but Oscar Hui, Reader in Mechanical Engineering at UEA, is looking at a new kind of high-performance, solid-state graphene supercapacitor to store energy and power the next generation of cars.
Dr Sonia Melendi-Espina from our School of Engineering is also studying carbon nanomaterials. These include nanostructured graphene-based coatings for a variety of applications, such as water nanofiltration membranes, corrosion protection, modified electrodes for flow-redox batteries and optical fibre sensors for the monitoring of emerging pollutants.
Graphene is one of the most remarkable substances ever discovered. Our research aims to power innovative engineering breakthroughs that will make a positive impact on the future of our climate, society and environment. We’re looking at how graphene can be applied to help provide clean water, develop green energy and create a new generation of sustainable vehicles in a world where transportation is the biggest cause of greenhouse gases.