Copper wires can have dual-use as batteries

6 June 2014
By Edd Gent
Mobile version
Share |
Copper cabling could be used to store as well as transmit energy according to scientists

Copper cabling could be used to store as well as transmit energy according to scientists

Ordinary copper electrical wire could be used to both transmit and store energy simultaneously, according to researchers.

The breakthrough could lead to smaller electronics, more trunk space in a hybrid car and eventually clothing that can recharge a mobile phone, according to nanotechnology scientist Jayan Thomas from the University of Central Florida.

The scientists have discovered a way to store energy in a thin sheath around an ordinary lightweight copper electrical wire, effectively creating super capacitor, which can still transmit electricity.

"We can just convert those wires into batteries so there is no need of a separate battery," Thomas said. "It has applications everywhere."

The work will be the cover story in the June 30 issue of the material science journal Advanced Materials, and is the subject of an article in the current edition of science magazine Nature.
Thomas's PhD student Zenan Yu is co-author.

To create the modified wire, first Thomas heated the copper wire to create what he described as fuzzy "nano-whiskers," which are naturally insulated by copper oxide. The microscopic nano-whiskers vastly expand the wire's surface area that can store energy.

A second plastic-covered layer of nano-whiskers creates a second electrode, similar to the positive and negative sides of a standard battery, Thomas said.

The technique could be used to lighten airplanes and spacecraft, to store excess energy from solar panels, and to further miniaturize small electronics, he said.

The technique could also replace high energy-density supercapacitors, sometimes mistaken by hybrid car owners as a second battery, which provide the quick shot of energy that cars and heavy machinery need to start.

"You open your trunk and you see a lot of space is taken by your batteries. If you can just use some of the cables along the length of your car, you don't need any of that space for batteries," Thomas said.

He plans further research to apply the same technique to fibres woven into clothing along with a flexible solar cell, creating a wearable battery pack.

Thomas is a faculty member at the UCF Nanoscience Technology Center with joint appointments in the College of Optics and Photonics and the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1606

"Where would Frankenstein and his creative mind fit into today's workplace? Should we fear technological developments or embrace them?"

E&T jobs

  • Design Engineers and Safety Engineers

    Babcock
    • South West England
    • Competitive

    Exciting opportunities have arisen within as we expand to meet the growing demands of the UK Submarine Programme.

    • Recruiter: Babcock

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Consultant

    EA Technology
    • Capenhurst
    • Up to £60k DOE + company bonus, generous pension scheme & benefits package

    EA Technology are recruiting for Experienced Consultants to deliver a broad portfolio of projects within our Smart Interventions Division.

    • Recruiter: EA Technology

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Consultant

    EA Technology
    • Capenhurst
    • Up to £45k DOE + company bonus, generous pension scheme & benefits package

    EA Technology are recruiting for Experienced Consultants to deliver a broad portfolio of projects within our Smart Interventions Division

    • Recruiter: EA Technology

    Apply for this job

  • Mid-Level Electrical Engineer

    Max Fordham LLP
    • London

    We are looking for an electrical engineer with around 4- 6 years of design experience to join and work with an able and talented group of engineers..

    • Recruiter: Max Fordham LLP

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Training Officer / NVQ 3 Assessor

    Premium job

    JTL
    • Norwich, Norfolk
    • Competitive + Pension + Personal BUPA cover

    As a Qualified Electrician, you know what it takes to complete electrical work to exceptional standards of safety and quality.

    • Recruiter: JTL

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Training Officer / NVQ 3 Assessor

    Premium job

    JTL
    • Dorchester, Poole or Bournemouth
    • Circa £29,000

    As a Qualified Electrician, you know what it takes to complete electrical work to exceptional standards of safety and quality.

    • Recruiter: JTL

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Training Officer / NVQ 3 Assessor

    Premium job

    JTL
    • London
    • Competitive + Pension + Personal BUPA cover

    As a Qualified Electrician, you know what it takes to complete electrical work to exceptional standards of safety and quality.

    • Recruiter: JTL

    Apply for this job

  • Project Manager - Eastern Region

    Defence Infrastructure Organisation
    • Woolwich, London
    • £24,362 (plus car, +10% supervisory allowance)

    Opportunity to be at the heart of what SSG will be delivering to its wide and varied client base.

    • Recruiter: Defence Infrastructure Organisation

    Apply for this job

  • Project Manager - South West

    Defence Infrastructure Organisation
    • Shrivenham, Swindon
    • £24,362 (plus car, +10% supervisory allowance)

    The Project Manager would be responsible for remedial and small/medium new project works across the Southwest of England

    • Recruiter: Defence Infrastructure Organisation

    Apply for this job

  • Nuclear Facilities Governance Manager

    BAE Systems
    • England, Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness
    • Negotiable

    Nuclear Facilities Governance Manager Would you like to be accountable for all the Nuclear Governance for both existing day to day facilities on the Barrow Site in addition to the Proposed Facilities development which is part of the multi-million pound si

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T