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article imageDeploying graphene in warships aids performance

By Tim Sandle     Jul 22, 2015 in Science
Washington - The U.S. Navy is looking into graphene to see how the carbon-based material can help drive an improved performance in terms of power.
Electricity on-board naval ships is produced as it would be with any power company for a small-sized area. The process uses similar types of conductors and transformers. In order to produce improvements, the U.S. Navy is seeing what advantages graphene can come up with.
Graphene is a carbon based material, only one atom thick. The super-strong material is flexible, transparent, impermeable to moisture and more conductive than gold. Graphene was first produced in 2004, although it is only in recent years that its properties are being fully-realized.
To help with the exploration University at Buffalo researchers have been commissioned to see how graphene can be used to improve power efficiency. An $800,000 grant has been given to the university for research purposes, with the money to be phased in over a four-year period.
The aim of the research is to see how nano-scale strips of graphene can be used to hold greater energy densities than current technology allows for. Many ships send power through overhead power lines and these are typically made from copper. Copper has an inefficiency in that it tends to create heat, which means that some of the power is lost.
Because graphene conducts electricity in a different way to copper, termed semi-ballistic conduction, electrons do not collide and electricity then could be used for additional power is not lost through heat. Furthermore, graphene can, in tests, withstand a greater energy load than copper (up to 1,000 times more.)
Part of the research into graphene is considering whether the addition of hydrogen improves the material even further. This will form part of the process to test graphene nanoribbons to their full potential, to establish what the conductive limit of the material is.
For these reasons, graphene is being considered as a means of drawing more power for naval vessels. In the long-term the U.S. Navy wants to move to vessels powered by electric motors alone, rather than by propellers and drive shafts powered by combustion engines.
More about Graphene, Navy, Destroyer, Boat, Electricity
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