Scientists from the UK, including ones from Manchester University, used graphene to develop a material that could convert an engine heat into electrical energy to help keep a car running (instead of going to waste) and reduce the need for fuels. It could also have applications in aerospace, manufacturing and other sectors.

Compounds that are able to capture waste heat from engines and other power systems and turn it into electricity are usually heavy, costly, toxic or only operate at high temperatures. The scientists in this study took a material called strontium titanium dioxide and added a small amount of graphene. The resulting composite was able to capture and convert heat into electric current efficiently over a broad temperature range.

As car manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve their fleets’ average fuel efficiency, such a material can be extremely valuable. Improving gas mileage could also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global dependence on fossil fuels.