Wonder material could harvest energy from thin air

Updated 9:59 AM EST, Tue November 3, 2015
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Story highlights

Researchers in the UK say a discovery involving wonder material graphene could revolutionize batteries

Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel and a million times thinner than a human hair

The material, which has the same atomic structure as the lead in pencils, is impermeable to atoms and molecules

Scientists found that positively charged hydrogen atoms could pass through it with implications for fuel cell efficiency

Editor’s Note: Originally published December 2014, updated November 2, 2015.

(CNN) —  

Bold claims for new battery technology have been around since the invention of the lead-acid battery more than 150 years ago.

But researchers at Manchester University in the UK say their latest discovery involving the new wonder material graphene could be the most revolutionary advance in battery technology yet.

According to a study published in the journal Nature, graphene membranes could be used to sieve hydrogen gas from the atmosphere – a development that could pave the way for electric generators powered by air.

“It looks extremely simple and equally promising,” said Dr Sheng Hu, a post-doctoral researcher in the project. “Because graphene can be produced these days in square metre sheets, we hope that it will find its way to commercial fuel cells sooner rather than later.”

Graphene: the nano-sized material with a massive future