A composite has been created by scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory by using innovative techniques that level up the electrical current potential of the copper wires, presenting a new material that can be efficiently used in power-dense, avant-garde electric vehicle traction motors. Reducing barriers to broader electric vehicle adoption is the primary objective behind the research that includes improving the life and performance of components like power electronics and electric motors and lessening the cost of ownership. The materials can be efficiently utilized in various matters where copper is used, including smaller connectors and more enhanced bus bars for applications like wired and wireless charging systems and electric vehicle traction inverters.
ORNL researchers aligned and deposited carbon nanotubes on top of flat copper substrates to produce a lightweight conductive substance with improved performance. The end result was a metal-matrix composite substance with better mechanical properties and current handling capability than copper. Incorporating CNTs, or carbon nanotubes, into a copper source to enhance mechanical performance and conductivity has always proved to be a great idea. CNTs have been the go-to choice because of their conductive properties, extraordinary strength, and lighter weight. However, all the past experiments and trials at composites by other scientists have resulted in material lengths ranging from just millimetres or micrometres, along with limited flexibility.
The ORNL team opted to experiment with putting down single-walled CNTs using electrospinning which is known to be a commercially viable process. The method provides the adaptation of deposited materials and proper control over the system. All the superior properties of carbon nanotubes are embedded into the copper matrix to aim for higher current potential, lighter weight, and enhanced mechanical strength, as stated by the lead investigator of the research project. This process helps create a better conductor with much less power loss that results in the growth of performance and efficiency of the device.
The new composite advancement has the potentiality to improve electrification in diverse applications where size, mass, and efficiency are the key metrics. The enhanced performance characteristics, attained with commercially viable methods, means brand new possibilities for developing advanced conductors for a wide range of industrial applications and electrical systems.
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