Bigger cars rule the roads, but this will change when the latest breed of graphene sheets goes into mass production. Researchers at the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) has developed a method of producing graphene sheet as thin as paper yet stronger than steel. This graphene sheet is six times lighter but two times harder and 10 times stronger than steel. It has also 5-6 times lower density and 13 times higher bending rigidity than steel. The breakthrough discovery can revolutionize automobile production and design and make the cars of the future more efficient and environmentally-friendly.
On average, it is estimated that steel comprises 80% of the weight of a car. This explains why bigger vehicles like SUVs have above-the-average scores in crashworthiness tests. However, the new graphene production method holds promise for smaller but heavier and more crashworthy vehicles.
Professor Guoxiu Wang’s team created nanostructured samples of graphene paper using a synthesized method and heat treatment. This material can be manufactured, reformed and reshaped to make it distinct from its raw form – graphite. The team milled graphite through chemical purification and filtration. They then reshaped and reformed it to develop nanostructure materials that can be processed into paper-like sheets. The resulting stacks have monolayer hexagonal carbon lattices. The perfect arrangement of the laminar structures results into extraordinary electrical, thermal and mechanical properties.
According to lead researcher Ali Reza Ranjbartoreh, the graphene paper is the first of its kind and that no one has ever used a similar method. Ranjbartoreh eyes various industrial applications for the graphene sheet due to its incredible mechanical properties. The outlook for graphene cars and aircraft is very promising, said Ranjbartoreh. With this technology, car makers can develop models that use less gasoline. The industry can also improve its environmental impact by shifting to recyclable graphene materials.