• Madani Sahari

Graphene holds potential for automotive applications

THE discovery of graphene by two scientists at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom who have won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 has opened up new possibilities of the material being used in many engineering applications.

Thin and yet extremely strong, graphene, is able to conduct electricity very efficiently at room temperature, thus promoting its major applications in the electronics and computer industry.

Excitingly, the application of graphene is foreseen to replace the use of steel in many engineering applications, in particular the aerospace and the automotive industries.

Known to demonstrate a breaking strength of 200 times greater than steel, the material will be the best substitute for steel in weight reduction endeavours desired in the development of energy-efficient vehicles (EEV).

Using graphene as the base material in the manufacture of composite components with different polymer matrices will enhance the vehicle design, with the vehicle weight to remain very light for fuel efficiency.

The material will provide benefits such as improved strength, dimensional stability and superior durability, while its flame retardant characteristic is useful for the replacement of the iron and steel components in the exhaust emission reduction application.

The usage of graphene in lithium-ion batteries can help to enhance storage capacity by 10 times compared to the current battery technology, and the batteries will be able to withstand rapid recharging. These possibilities will expedite the entrance of plug-in hybrid and full-electric vehicles in the marketplace.

Graphene-based materials and their respective processing technologies are now intensely being developed for commercialisation among developed countries. It is foreseen graphene-based parts and components will soon enter the marketplace, replacing those that have been produced by less superior conventional materials.

It is pleasing to note that Malaysia is one of those countries venturing to locally commercialise the production of graphene.

Under the government’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), a National Graphene Action Plan has recently been unveiled to guide the development of graphene-based materials and the manufacture of the material in a big way.

The key players in this graphene commercialisation venture are Pemandu, Agensi Inovasi Malaysia and NanoMalaysia Bhd, with the participation of relevant private sector, research and development institutions and universities.

Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) is equally thrilled on the ETP initiative and its support for the development of graphene-based material production locally as the venture will expedite the development of EEV manufacturing in the country.

MAI is committed to encourage and assist the local automotive players to embark on the production of EEV batteries.

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