Orange County

UCF, NASA researchers design ‘power suits’ for electric vehicles, spacecraft

ORLANDO, Fla. — University of Central Florida and NASA researchers have teamed up to develop a “power suit” for electric vehicles and spacecraft.

Officials said the suit is made of layered carbon composite material that works as an energy-storing supercapacitor-battery hybrid device.

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The suit is as strong as steel, lighter than aluminum and helps boost a vehicle’s power capacity.

“Our idea is to use the body shells to store energy to supplement the power stored in batteries,” said study co-author Jayan Thomas, the team leader and a professor in UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center and Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

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“The advantage is that this composite can reduce the weight of your car and increase the miles per charge.”

Officials said the material, when used as a car body shell, could increase an electric car’s range by 25%, meaning a 200 miles per charge vehicle could go an extra 50 miles and reduce its overall weight.

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As a supercapacitor, it would also boost an electric car’s power, giving it the extra push it needs to go from zero to 60 mph in 3 seconds.

Officials said the technology is currently at a technology readiness level of five, which means it has been tested in a relevant environment before moving to being tested in a real environment, such as on a space flight, which would be level six testing.

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To pass the last level of testing, level nine, and reach the commercial environment, it will require further development and testing focused on commercial applications, officials said.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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