As those that read my blog know already, graphene is called a “wonder material” for a reason. Namely, it’s incredibly thin — 2D, in fact — as well as strong, light, flexible and superconductive. When we talk about graphene we usually talk about its potential in regards to healthcare, military sciences or energy efficiency. The truth is, its application could expand far beyond that. One that’s rarely mentioned? The automotive industry.
On July 22 in Manchester, the birthplace of graphene, the world’s first graphene car was unveiled. The vehicle, which has the material in its bodywork, was manufactured by Briggs Automotive Company in Speke, Liverpool. It’s a race car called the BAC Mono, and spearheaded an exhibit highlighting the technological applications of graphene.
According to James Baker, graphene business director at The University of Manchester, “The graphene car is an excellent example of how graphene can be incorporated into existing products to improve performance.” Graphene, which is just an atom thick and 200 times stronger than steel, would allow for a faster and more protective road vehicle ideal for enhanced performance and efficiency.
The BAC Mono used graphene in the car’s rear wheel arches, which the company developed with the help of firm Haydale Composite Solutions. The graphene parts aren’t offered yet on the production version of the Mono, but carbon fiber wheels are offered, which is not a bad alternative for now.
Graphene has been eyed up by the military for super-fast jet planes, so it’s no surprise the material would have similar benefits for ground vehicles. In 2015, the Spanish supercar startup Spania GTA showcased a prototype for a car called “Spano” with components including graphene, Kevlar, and conventional carbon fiber.
What’s next for graphene in the automotive industry? It’s difficult to say. In theory, it could be used as a coating for impermeable vehicles, or even to construct a whole car. For the everyday person that doesn’t need a fast or impermeable car, it will most likely take the form of lighter, smaller, cheaper car batteries. Thanks in advance, graphene!