Despite being just an atom thick, graphene is nearly impermeable and potentially capable of blocking everything from bullets to minuscule gas molecules. Companies are already pouncing on adapting this characteristic to applications like filtration and desalinization.
New research out of Rice University indicates that graphene’s impermeability also makes it a fit for cars that run on natural gas. Right now, natural gas is packed into heavy metal tanks that must be stored somewhere on a car. The researchers were able to combine plastic and graphene to create a plastic tank capable of holding natural gas. Lighter plastic tanks could make cars more efficient by lowering the amount of fuel they need.
To prevent gas from escaping, the researchers embedded graphene ribbons in plastic. This is a view of the embedded ribbons under an electron microscope. Photo courtesy of Tour Group/Rice University.
“The idea is to increase the toughness of the tank and make it impermeable to gas,” Rice chemist James Tour said...