Graphene Paper Cars: Next step for the Roadster?

Graphene Paper Cars: Next step for the Roadster?

Better than carbon fibre:

Looks like it would be a lot cheaper and stronger. Of course, everyone will be on this like white on rice, not just TeslaMotors.

Using a synthesized method and heat treatment, the UTS research team produced material with extraordinary bending, rigidity and hardness mechanical properties. Compared to steel, the prepared graphene paper (GP) is six times lighter, five to six times lower density, two times harder with 10 times higher tensile strength, and 13 times higher bending rigidity.

The researchers foresee the use of graphene paper in the automotive and aviation industries, allowing the development of lighter and stronger cars and planes that use less fuel, generate less pollution, are cheaper to run, and are ecologically sustainable.

searcher | 22 April, 2011

Does "graphene" imply that graphite will be used? If so I had better let some of the landowners in my old home county in Alabama know because at one time the best quality of graphite in the world was mined there and someplace in France. In fact my grandfather used to run a comissary for the graphite mines. Think I have related this before. Gold in "them thar hills to" was being mined until the California gold strike.

Brian H | 23 April, 2011

Graphene is made in a variety of ways, from any source of carbon. So graphite or any source of carbon might end up being used.

It's 1-molecule thick layers of carbon, and that maximizes the strength of the bonds.

Mittar | 25 April, 2011

Graphene is still in its infancy as far as practical applications go. It's got to go through a number of proving steps before it can be used for something like a car or airplane skin. For instance, what happens when it is soaked in a solution of snow melt agent and baked in ultraviolet rays? No one knows yet.

Timo | 25 April, 2011

I bet answer is "pretty much nothing". Graphene chemical bond is the same as in diamonds, carbon to carbon. That bond is very strong, one of the strongest there can be. It can't be broken by weak ultraviolet or pretty much anything else.

It is BTW also very good conductor, better than metals like copper. If you make engine out of that you could reduce the motor weight to something like 1/10 to what it is now. It is also very heat resistant (and heat conductor, and semiconductor, and can be made to react optical changes and list goes on and on).

Looks like d*mn miracle-material.

VolkerP | 29 April, 2011

looks like graphene paper differs from carbon fiber materials that there is no resine used (ie not a composite material). Trouble is, how can you mass produce car parts from that? carbon fiber is very gradually introduced into car industry because there is no established process how a machine can produce 1000 pieces per hour. This problem has to be solved for graphene. First application might be aviation since planes are produced in comparably low numbers and weight reductions are a big benefit.

Vawlkus | 2 May, 2011

Maybe that's part of how Elons building his all electric plane

VolkerP | 2 May, 2011

Elon is very careful in selecting well-proven technology:

do not invent a new li-ion battery cell for cars. use laptop cells.
use aluminum metal stamping for mass production of car parts.
build one rocket engine and test it. use multiple of them for Falcon-9 first rocket stage instead of developing more powerful engine. same design principle like the Soviet space vehicles.
use kerosene & oxygen as rocket fuel.

Starting an electric aircraft production would be the next step to get off oil. Use an extreme lightweight technology to build the fuselage and two Roadster motors for taxiing...

ggr | 2 May, 2011

Two Roadster motors?! Good grief! My perfectly good 4 seater airplane has a 180-HP engine for flying and cruises at 140mph, so I don't think even this big a motor is actually needed.

VolkerP | 3 May, 2011


was thinking of an electric commuter plane. Size comparable to BAE ATP (around 70 seats) with electric propulsion to the wheels for taxiing. Two flight motors would produce 1500kW each at take-off and ~800kW continuously during flight. takeoff, climb and 1h flight requires 1'800kWh, that is 20x Signature battery pack, weighs 8 tonnes and costs $1m. Not completely outworldish.

ggr | 3 May, 2011

I still don't see why you would want separate motors for taxiing. Propellors are surprisingly efficient; they just have all sorts of undesirable characteristics when used on roads (like noise, wind, and chopping up pedestrians).

Every now and then someone proposes having a little electric motor just to spin the wheels up to speed before touchdown, so that the tires on planes would last a lot longer. When you look at the problem more closely, it just can't be justified. No plane in existence has ever felt the need to have separate taxi motors. I don't see what that part of the equation would change just because the propulsion became electric.

VolkerP | 3 May, 2011

DLR currently develops electric wheel propulsion for conventional aircraft. Read here. The motor is powered by an onboard fuel cell which replaces the auxiliary turbine unit + electric generator. The goal is to reduce noise and emissions for airplanes moving on the ground.

If that system prevails, conventional taxiing aircraft probably face higher fees on some airports.

In an electric plane, driving the wheels with separate motors would at least reduce propeller noise. Perhaps the wheel motors could assist in take off, thereby reducing the max take off power that the propeller motors must deliver.

Ramon123 | 4 May, 2011

Over the years there have been many "wonder materials" that were going to do this and do that and somehow always seemed to do something unexpected. I'm thinking of aluminum, billed as impervious to rust. They forgot to mention that water corrodes the stuff away in short order, so that aluminum siding cannot be located near the ground. And aluminum was also billed as a great
electrical conductor. 10,000 consumer lawsuits later, we find it only allowed in large inlet conductors and not even preferred there.
In the case of this material, my first thought is about body damage. Plastic panels used in the Fiero were great but had to be replaced in toto, usually, if damaged in an accident.And had to be bolted on to an underlying metal framework. Aluminum hoods were never well-liked because they were so hard to pound back into shape and never seemed to take paint very well. I suppose the painting processes are much better these days.
Until all the characterisitcs of this material are known, it's
pretty much fruitless getting excited over it. Lighter weight
is pretty much irrelevant in the long scheme of things, since
energy efficiency will not save us. The world has always and will always use more and more energy. And the amount of energy consumed, per se, means nothing. We will always have way more than enough - for example, a fast breeder reactor can use existing
"nuclear waste" on hand today, can provide all the electricity this country will use for the next 1000 years.

Mittar | 4 May, 2011

@Timo, I happen to agree, it sounds like a wonder material, but it does need to be tested, Ramon gives good examples why.

@Ramon, I completely disagree with your statement that weight means nothing. Weight is a huge factor, especially in aeronautics and automotive industries. Decreasing weight has the dual effect of increasing relative power and range, which is why everyone is so critical of added battery weight in electric vehicles.

Timo | 5 May, 2011

@Ramon123, they make boats out of aluminum. Water does nothing to high-grade aluminum.

Ramon123 | 25 May, 2011

Originally a lot of materials seemed to be a giant step forward. Most were not. Aluminum for wiring (that was a total disaster)
and for auto chassis and engines (another disaster, until alloys
and advanced techniques were developed). Unfortunately, a lot of the problems don't show up for years and could not possibly have been discovered during development. It's ALWAYS a gamble when you
move into unknown territory. Remember Thalidimide? That wonder drug. Fiberglass body panels were another new big thing that wasn't. The past 70 years is littered with bright ideas for new materials that turned out not to be not only often not very bright, but downright stupid. People allow their enthusiasm to get way ahead of their knowledge.

searcher | 25 May, 2011

But Ramon123, Lets keep in perspective for all the things that didn't work out there are many that did. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"

I honestly would like to really keep updated on this product.

Oh Yes, Ramon123, could you update us on the progress and legitamcy of the the DBM Energy battery from Germany with the 6 minute charge and 30 year life, and the 1400k USA price. I am extremely interested in this. Thanks

Timo | 25 May, 2011

@Ramon, Remember Thalidimide? That wonder drug.


It actually still is a "wonder drug" as long as you don't use it while pregnant. Problem was the initial use which was as bad as it possibly could be, which in turn caused it to become a real boogeyman of drugs. I believe that this is not the only such case in human history. We might have discovered a new and improved microscope and used it as hammer, and then though that "what a useless hammer" without revisiting the idea.

Brian H | 27 May, 2011

...or a telescope as a screwdriver, or a calculator as a spatula, or ...
The possibilities are endless!

;) :D ;PpP

tejashashank007 | 20 February, 2015

I'm a high school student of 10th grade from India, i wanna know if the graphene would really work on vehicles, in a way if we consider that it's the lightest, strongest and cheapest comparitively, would Graphene suffer the Air resistivity ? Super cars and Aeroplanes are too fast and when coming to planes, would Graphene not strip away in air ?

Boukman | 20 February, 2015

@ggr... Actually Electrical Taxiing for large commercial airplanes is coming to an airport near you soon... The impact that it will have will be tremendous by reducing operating costs and more (airplanes will not need to be towed from terminals anymore, Fuel savings, noise reduction etc...)

Timo | 23 February, 2015

@tejashashank007, graphene is strong material, stronger than diamond. It's real miracle material, strong, light, better conductor than any metal etc. etc. etc.

Only problem is that we don't have any easy way to properly manufacture decent sized sheets of it. If you invent a way to make large quantities of large-sized molecules of graphene cheaply you would become an instant billionaire.

amaroqthewolf | 3 June, 2015

Once graphene (and I mean pure graphene) becomes cheap enough, do you think we could have graphene wiring in the motors themselves?

Also, I think you should look into aerogels; they are getting much cheaper to produce, can withstand the weight of an entire car and the heat of a blow torch, look just plain awesome and are so light it is just unreal.

Graphene Aerogel, the lightest man-made substance on the planet, weighs in at only 160 grams per cubic meter!

You should also check out this new stuff called Stanene; when combined with fluorine atoms, it operates as a superconductor up to 100 degrees Celsius!

Timo | 4 June, 2015

If/when graphene gets cheap we will have it everywhere. It's one miracle material.

Brian H | 4 June, 2015

Aerogel is a 3D matrix. Graphene is a 2D sheet. Different.