A discovery of new electrolytes and capacitors for use in advanced electronics such as electric cars and mobile phones has been found in an unlikely location, laxatives.
Co-conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA), the project looked at the molecular structure of laxatives to create an oil and soluble substance.
“The oily parts cluster together and form a barrier that traps positive charged ions. As the amount of positively charged ions near the surface is very high, a much greater charge can be stored, opening up a whole new way of storing electricity,” said Australian lead researcher, Professor Rob Atkin.
The discovery of this material has the potential to circumvent issues with electric vehicles having a lack of charge and needing to be recharged for a long period of time.
“Electric cars are more environmentally friendly than cars that run on petrol, but the current challenge is that they have limited ranges and long charging times, typically more than four hours,” said Atkin.
“This breakthrough could solve these problems through the development of high performance capacitors.”
A similar principle could be followed for batteries used in mobile phones, avoiding the hassle of finding a charger or taking portable batteries for longer lifetimes.
“This technology could also be used to power mobile phones, meaning faster charging times, and allowing them to run much longer between charges,” said Atkin.
Furthermore, reducing the use of electricity and making each charge last longer will reduce the amount of energy that energy thirsty devices such as cars need to use.
“Not only will this create more powerful and efficient devices, but also provide great environmental benefits,” said Atkin.