A joint project by Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Chinese state-owned Hangzhou Cable Co. has raised the prospect of significant reductions in power costs and greenhouse gas emissions through improved cables for electricity transmission, a statement from UNSW said.
The university and the Chinese cable manufacturer have set up an A$10 million ($7.6 million) laboratory on UNSW’s main campus at Kensington to develop a graphene-based transmission cable invented by UNSW materials science research Sean Li.
Graphene is a type of carbon that exists in a two-dimensional, hexagonal form. Although difficult to work with, its light weight, flexibility, and excellent electric conducting properties make it an ideal material for a variety of technological applications.
Formed into cable, graphene eliminates much of the persistent electricity leakage that occurs in conventional power cables, particularly over long distances, the university said.
The first project of the new laboratory will be to create a ten-meter long prototype cable for testing, which is anticipated to be possible within the next two years.
The research team estimated that if the technology can be successfully commercialized, it could save 275 terrawatt-hours of power a year across China alone, which is more than Australia’s entire annual energy consumption.