In their current form Lithium Ion batteries,  the power source of choice for the next wave of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, contain small amounts of extremely expensive rare-earth metals or fire-prone carbon-based materials as a necessary part of their electrode's formulation.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have discovered that the inexpensive substance Titanium Oxide, which is known to be capable of serving the same purpose, but not quite well enough to be a viable alternative, actually performs three times better at charging and discharging electric current when combined with an unusual material called graphene.   graphene is a one-atom-thick honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms discovered by researchers at The University of Manchester in 2004.

With the addition of the graphene lattice,  Titanium oxide electrodes could lower the price of Lithium Ion vehicle batteries significantly, making new electric vehicles and hybrids even more viable in the marketplace.

[SOURCE: Gizmag]