The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney and China's Hangzhou Cables have formalized a major collaboration to begin large-scale manufacturing of graphene power cables, which promise to cut electricity costs and improve grid transmission. This is an advancement of the May 2016 engagement between the two.
The agreement, which will move the project into the second stage of development, was formalized at a ceremony to mark UNSW’s Torch Innovation Week, a showcase of Australian and Chinese partnerships. The joint venture between UNSW Sydney and Hangzhou Cables received an additional $3 million (around $2,160,000 USD) funding boost that will transfer laboratory research results into the industrial production of a graphene cable pilot line located in Hangzhou.
An initial 10-meter prototype of the cable technology, developed at the Kensington campus over the past two years, showed that graphene can be used to stop electricity leakage that happens with conventional power cable and grids, which could deliver significant savings in electricity and emissions. The technology was invented by a UNSW research team led by materials scientist Professor Sean Li.
The project is a flagship collaboration of the Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW – an unprecedented partnership between UNSW-led research teams and Chinese businesses and industries with the capital and market access needed to translate Australian research into high-impact new products, processes and services.
Professor Brian Boyle, UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Enterprise, announced that according to the test results of the National Measurement Institute (NMI), graphene-copper composite wire developed in phase one of the project reduced resistivity by 3.8%, compared with that of the copper wire within the same area.
Professor Li said the "ultimate goal in phase two is to continue optimizing fabrication parameters to increase China’s grid transmission efficiency by 5%".
It was that said the successful commercialization and application of the UNSW technology could save about 275 terawatt hours of power a year across China alone – equivalent to Australia’s entire annual energy consumption.
"Signing the second phase of this project demonstrates the economic and sustainable impacts our research efforts and global achievements with HCCL in Hangzhou are making," said Professor Boyle.