Will Thin, Flexible Glass Power the Electric Vehicles of the Future?
Probably not, but researchers at Penn State University have developed would could be the energy storage technology of the future.
Penn State says this:
“Thin and flexible glass for displays is already a widely commercialized technology. But even thinner glass, about one tenth the thickness of display glass, can be customized to store energy at high temperatures and for high power applications, such as electric vehicle power electronics, wind turbine generators, grid-tied photovoltaics, aerospace, and geothermal exploration and drilling.”
So, in a way, this glass could power some electric vehicle components, but it’s not likely to replace the battery pack as the motive energy source.
TreeHugger discusses some of the specifics:
“The researchers tested various alkali-free glass compositions and thicknesses and compared their energy density to current commercial polymer capacitors used in electric vehicles that convert energy from the battery to the electric motor. These capacitors require a separate cooling system, which makes them large and bulky. The Penn State researchers discovered a 10-micron think glass that kept a high charge-discharge efficiency at temperatures up to 180 degrees Celsius.”
“In partnership with Strategic Polymer Sciences the researchers have been able to produce this glass in a roll-to-roll process in thin sheets, which is inexpensive. They then coat the glass with high temperature polymers which increase energy density by 2.25 times and make it more capable of self-healing.”
Again, we don’t see this breakthrough glass actually powering electric vehicles in the future, but it could serve as a lightweight and cheap energy storage system to supplement the lithium-ion (solid-state, lithium-air or lithium-sulfur in the future) battery pack that powers electric vehicles.