Not the lens itself, but the plastic based on soft contact-lens technology could be the solution to reducing an EV’s charging time to just seconds and helping them travel long distances on a charge.
University of Surrey researchers have been developing a polymer that could greatly dramatically boost the performance of supercapacitors. These supercapacitors are lightweight electronic components that can typically store 10 to 100 times more energy per unit volume than electrolytic capacitors and it can charge and distribute high volumes of power faster than batteries. They can even handle more charge and discharge cycles.
Currently average supercapacitor energy density is around 5 watt-hours a kilogram, substantially denser than the 100 watt-hours of lithium ion batteries used in EVs. The new polymer tech could boost the energy density even more, anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times is possible. That would bring EVs closer to the 2,500 watt-hours per kg of gasoline-powered cars.
Augmented Optics CEO Jim Heathcote, told Automotive News: “If it’s 1,000 times more powerful, you can use it for buses. If it got to 50 watt-hours, it would do general transportation. Anything above that is just blue sky. If this only translates into something 10 times better, that’s still huge.”
Even Elon Musk believes that supercapacitors would deliver the breakthrough that electric cars need, he said as much back in 2011.
“We believe that this is an extremely exciting and potentially game changing development,” said Ian Hamerton, who tested the technology at Bristol University’s Department of Aerospace Engineering.