Australia-based Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG), which became a public company earlier this month, has announced the execution of a research agreement with the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (“AIBN”) for the development of graphene aluminum-ion batteries.

Under the agreement, GMG will manufacture commercial battery prototypes for watches, phones, laptops, electric vehicles and grid storage with technology developed at the University of Queensland (“UQ”). GMG has also signed a license agreement with Uniquest, the University of Queensland's commercialization company, which provides GMG exclusive license of the technology for battery cathodes.

GMG will incorporate technology devised by AIBN Professor’s Michael Yu, Dr. Xiaodan Huang and postdoctoral student Yueqi Kong that has made graphene into efficient electrodes for powering batteries.

The results are reportedly a battery with up to 70 times faster charging and more sustainability with a life up to three times greater than lithium-ion. UQ’s research team was awarded A$390,000 (over USD$300,000) over three years to develop the graphene aluminum-ion technology from the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Project in 2020.

AIBN Director Professor, Alan Rowan commented, “We are delighted to partner with GMG to translate scientific ideas into commercial solutions through the development of more efficient and greener batteries. After several years of dedicated research into improving the aluminum ion battery, we are excited to be at the phase of developing commercial prototypes for more sustainable, faster-charging batteries,” Professor Rowan said. Testing showed rechargeable graphene aluminum-ion batteries had a battery life of up to three times that of current leading lithium-ion batteries, and higher power density meant they charged up to 70 times faster. The batteries are rechargeable for a larger number of cycles without deteriorating performance and are easier to recycle, reducing potential for harmful metals to leak into the environment.”

UniQuest CEO, Dr. Dean Moss stated, “Aluminum-ion battery with graphene electrodes could transform the existing rechargeable battery market, dominated by lithium-ion. Lithium-ion batteries demand the extraction of rare earth materials using large amounts of water and are processed with chemicals that can potentially harm the environment. This project has real potential to provide the market with a more environmentally friendly and efficient alternative.”

GMG Head Scientist, Dr. Ashok Nanjundan commented, “The project could deliver far-reaching benefits for energy storage, while the batteries were also safer because they do not use lithium, which had been known to cause fires in some mobile phones. This project is a great example of academia and business working together. The current recyclability of batteries is highly problematic due to their chemical properties and the stockpiling of dead batteries presents a large and looming environmental and public safety concern.”

GMG CEO, Craig Nicol, “To use local raw materials to manufacture battery cells at a competitive cost to replace imported lithium-ion cells is a massive opportunity for GMG and Australia to reduce supply chain risks and create local jobs. We’re excited about developing the commercial prototypes followed by initial production here in Australia – at a location yet to be determined.”