Graphene will be a great leap in the manufacture of electric cars, and these vans are a good example

A very young company based in Singapore called Avevai has embarked on its adventures in the world of electrification and autonomous technology with two commercial electric vehicles: Iona Van and Iona Truck .

During the Guangzhou Auto Show held in China, they presented their two electric vans, developed together with Daimler and Foton and equipped with a Graphene Energy Management System (GEMS) that, according to its creators, offers an “unrivaled” autonomy of up to 330 km. And they will come to Europe in May 2019.

An assured service life of 200,000 km, more loading speed and more capacity

Graphene is often described as the material of the future or the “material of God.” Composed of pure carbon, it is 200 times more resistant than structural steel, abundant -it comes from graphite-, extremely light and flexible and is a better thermal and electrical conductor than copper.

Taking advantage of these qualities, Avevai company has developed together with Daimler, Foton and e-Sinergy two vans driven by graphene supercapacitors . They claim that their graphene energy management system is scalable and can be applied to any electric vehicle. They plan to market it in 2019.

Controlled by an intelligent algorithm, GEMS allows the loading and unloading cycles to run in nanoseconds and Avevai promises that the system is capable of recovering up to 85% of the energy through regenerative braking. This implies that the loading and unloading cycles will be speeded up, decreasing the wear and life of the battery.

Recall that the graphene energy density in mass is very high: around 600 Wh / kg, when a conventional lithium ion battery is usually between 250 and 340 Wh / kg. For its part, the useful life that this material allows is double that of conventional lithium-ion batteries.

In fact it ensures a useful life of 200,000 km or five years , and that a charging station of 22kW AC (alternating current) will fully charge the Iona Truck in two hours. The Iona Van is equipped with a battery pack of 80 kWh and a range of 300 km, while the Truck promises up to 330 km (yes, NEDC cycle).

The objective of Avevai is the development of logistics software for future integration in electric commercial vehicles, so that the use of Artificial Intelligence reduces costs. At the moment, we have only seen these vans through render, but a French header shows an image of what the Iona Van will look like.

The first country that will receive these vehicles will be China in February 2019; later, from May, they will reach Europe and the United States.

If it’s so easy, why has not it been implemented already in electric cars?

Graphene is one of the most studied nanomaterials today, and although its molecular structure was known a century ago, there was no practical method of manufacturing it.

Russian scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov managed to do it at room temperature, which earned them the Nobel Prize in 2010. Since then, different research works have been carried out for their application in batteries and supercapacitors, and it has even been discovered that it also has an effect photovoltaic

In fact, graphene supercapacitors – which have existed since 1957 – have been positioned as the main alternative for recharging an electric car in minutes.

With graphene we could make capacitors that would have much more capacity than the current ones and that would not be so polluting at the time of being discarded, or they would not be as delicate to recycle as the current batteries.

We would also keep the advantages of the capacitors, with which we would have an electric car at a lower price than if it had batteries, it could have more autonomy and above all it could be recharged much faster, in one or two minutes.

But then, why do not we see graphene applied to all areas? The main problem is that mass production without losing quality is a very expensive process ; only in small quantities this material presents all its potential.

On the other hand there is the density of volume : although a battery of this type manages to accumulate more electric power with less weight, it occupies something more volume, without mentioning the load power needed to recharge a battery that offers hundreds of kilometers of autonomy, even 1,000

In addition, it has been detected that people could be exposed through the air to the carbon particles that this material releases with wear, with possible effects on health.

At the moment, this “miraculous” material and possible successor to silicon is present in batteries, headphones, bike wheels, light bulbs, cameras, and applications have been carried out in medicine and water desalination. But it still does not make electric vehicles an unlimited means of transport. There are still a few years left.