Graphene and batteries
Graphene, a sheet of carbon atoms bound together in a honeycomb lattice pattern, is hugely recognized as a â€œwonder materialâ€ due to the myriad of astonishing attributes it holds. It is a potent conductor of electrical and thermal energy, extremely lightweight chemically inert, and flexible with a large surface area. It is also considered eco-friendly and sustainable, with unlimited possibilities for numerous applications.
In the field of batteries, conventional battery electrode materials (and prospective ones) are significantly improved when enhanced with graphene. A graphene battery can be light, durable and suitable for high capacity energy storage, as well as shorten charging times. It will extend the batteryâ€™s life, which is negatively linked to the amount of carbon that is coated on the material or added to electrodes to achieve conductivity, and graphene adds conductivity without requiring the amounts of carbon that are used in conventional batteries.
Graphene can improve such battery attributes as energy density and form in various ways. Li-ion batteries (and other types of rechargeable batteries) can be enhanced by introducing graphene to the batteryâ€™s anode and capitalizing on the materialâ€™s conductivity and large surface area traits to achieve morphological optimization and performance.
It has also been discovered that creating hybrid materials can also be useful for achieving battery enhancement. A hybrid of Vanadium Oxide (VO2) and graphene, for example, can be used on Li-ion cathodes and grant quick charge and discharge as well as large charge cycle durability. In this case, VO2 offers high energy capacity but poor electrical conductivity, which can be solved by using graphene as a sort of a structural â€œbackboneâ€ on which to attach VO2 - creating a hybrid material that has both heightened capacity and excellent conductivity.
Another example is LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries, that is a kind of rechargeable Li-ion battery. It has a lower energy density than other Li-ion batteries but a higher power density (an indicator of of the rate at which energy can be supplied by the battery). Enhancing LFP cathodes with graphene allowed the batteries to be lightweight, charge much faster than Li-ion batteries and have a greater capacity than conventional LFP batteries.
In addition to revolutionizing the battery market, combined use of graphene batteries and graphene supercapacitors could yield amazing results, like the noted concept of improving the electric carâ€™s driving range and efficiency. While graphene batteries have not yet reached widespread commercialization, battery breakthroughs are being reported around the world.
Batteries serve as a mobile source of power, allowing electricity-operated devices to work without being directly plugged into an outlet. While many types of batteries exist, the basic concept by which they function remains similar: one or more electrochemical cells convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. A battery is usually made of a metal or plastic casing, containing a positive terminal (an anode), a negative terminal (a cathode) and electrolytes that allow ions to move between them. A separator (a permeable polymeric membrane) creates a barrier between the anode and cathode to prevent electrical short circuits while also allowing the transport of ionic charge carriers that are needed to close the circuit during the passage of current. Finally, a collector is used to conduct the charge outside the battery, through the connected device.
When the circuit between the two terminals is completed, the battery produces electricity through a series of reactions. The anode experiences an oxidation reaction in which two or more ions from the electrolyte combine with the anode to produce a compound, releasing electrons. At the same time, the cathode goes through a reduction reaction in which the cathode substance, ions and free electrons combine into compounds. Simply put, the anode reaction produces electrons while the reaction in the cathode absorbs them and from that process electricity is produced. The battery will continue to produce electricity until electrodes run out of necessary substance for creation of reactions.
Battery types and characteristics
Batteries are divided into two main types: primary and secondary. Primary batteries (disposable), are used once and rendered useless as the electrode materials in them irreversibly change during charging. Common examples are the zinc-carbon battery as well as the alkaline battery used in toys, flashlights and a multitude of portable devices. Secondary batteries (rechargeable), can be discharged and recharged multiple times as the original composition of the electrodes is able to regain functionality. Examples include lead-acid batteries used in vehicles and lithium-ion batteries used for portable electronics.
Batteries come in various shapes and sizes for countless different purposes. Different kinds of batteries display varied advantages and disadvantages. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries are relatively low in energy density and are used where long life, high discharge rate and economical price are key. They can be found in video cameras and power tools, among other uses. NiCd batteries contain toxic metals and are environmentally unfriendly. Nickel-Metal hydride batteries have a higher energy density than NiCd ones, but also a shorter cycle-life. Applications include mobile phones and laptops. Lead-Acid batteries are heavy and play an important role in large power applications, where weight is not of the essence but economic price is. They are prevalent in uses like hospital equipment and emergency lighting.
Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries are used where high-energy and minimal weight are important, but the technology is fragile and a protection circuit is required to assure safety. Applications include cell phones and various kinds of computers. Lithium Ion Polymer (Li-ion polymer) batteries are mostly found in mobile phones. They are lightweight and enjoy a slimmer form than that of Li-ion batteries. They are also usually safer and have longer lives. However, they seem to be less prevalent since Li-ion batteries are cheaper to manufacture and have higher energy density.
Batteries and supercapacitors
While there are certain types of batteries that are able to store a large amount of energy, they are very large, heavy and release energy slowly. Capacitors, on the other hand, are able to charge and discharge quickly but hold much less energy than a battery. The use of graphene in this area, though, presents exciting new possibilities for energy storage, with high charge and discharge rates and even economical affordability. Graphene-improved performance thereby blurs the conventional line of distinction between supercapacitors and batteries.
Graphene-enhanced batteries are almost here
Graphene-based batteries have exciting potential and while they are not yet fully commercially available yet, R&D is intensive and will hopefully yield results in the future. Companies all over the world (including Samsung, Huawei, and others) are developing different types of graphene-enhanced batteries, some of which are now entering the market. The main applications are in electric vehicles and mobile devices.
Some batteries use graphene in peripheral ways - not in the battery chemistry. For example in 2016, Huawei unveiled a new graphene-enhanced Li-Ion battery that uses graphene to remain functional at higher temperature (60Â° degrees as opposed to the existing 50Â° limit) and offer a double the operation time. Graphene is used in this battery for better heat dissipation - it reduces battery's operating temperature by 5 degrees.
- Introduction to graphene
- Graphene Supercapacitors
- How to invest in the graphene revolution
- The Graphene Handbook, our very own guide to the graphene market
- Graphene-Info's graphene batteries market report
- Graphene supercapacitors market report
The latest graphene batteries news:
Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) has announced it has developed graphene aluminum ion (G+AI) battery prototype pouch cells with a storage capacity of more than 500 milliampere hours (mAh) and a nominal voltage of about 2 volts.
GMG sees this as a significant development because it demonstrates how it has matured its battery electro-chemistry and assembly techniques to produce pouch cells with more than 10 layers of graphene-coated cathode and aluminum foil anode. The next step is for the company to optimize the assembly techniques of the pouch cell prototypes to achieve repeatable storage capacity of more than 500 mAh cells for the purpose of conducting a variety of standard testing conditions for comparison purposes.
BASF, a global battery materials producer, and Nanotech Energy, a developer of graphene-based energy storage products, have agreed to partner to significantly reduce the CO2 footprint of Nanotech’s lithium-ion batteries for the North American market. The agreement aims to close the loop for lithium-ion batteries in North America, with BASF producing cathode active materials from recycled metals in Battle Creek, Michigan, for the usage in lithium-ion battery cells produced by Nanotech Energy. Feeding recycled metals into the production of new lithium-ion batteries can reportedly reduce the CO2 impact of batteries by about 25% compared to the use of primary metals from mines.
Both companies will additionally partner with American Battery Technology Company (ABTC), a lithium-ion battery recycling company in Reno, Nevada, and TODA Advanced Materials Inc. (TODA) with decades of experience in manufacturing specialized pCAM (precursor for Cathode Active Material) and metal hydroxide material located in Ontario, Canada, to establish such a localized battery value chain for the North American consumer electronics and automotive industries. Along that chain, battery scrap and off-spec material from Nanotech’s pilot operation in Chico, California, as well as from its planned commercial facility will be recycled by ABTC. The battery-grade metals as recovered by ABTC – such as nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium – will be subsequently used by TODA and BASF to produce new precursors and cathode active materials, respectively. Nanotech will then use these materials again in its battery cell production – overall, a truly circular economy in North America.
Lyten has announced it has raised $200 million as part of its over-subscribed Series B funding round, to scale manufacturing and commercialize its first three product lines: Lithium-Sulfur batteries, lightweight composites, and next generation IoT sensors.
The round is led by Prime Movers Lab, a venture capital firm focused on investments in breakthrough scientific startups and has $1.2B in assets under management. Prime Movers Lab is joined with significant participation from strategic investors and sector leaders Stellantis (previously announced), FedEx Corporation, Honeywell, and Walbridge Aldinger Company. Additional strategic, venture capital and individual investors make up the remainder of the round.
NanoXplore and its wholly owned subsidiary, VoltaXplore, a silicon-graphene-enhanced Li-ion battery manufacturer for the Electric Vehicle and grid storage markets, have announced that VoltaXplore has agreed on commercial terms for the supply of Li-ion battery cells with a well-known commercial vehicle OEM.
The batteries include graphene in the anode (graphene-silicon additives) and battery cells will reportedly be produced in VoltaXplore’s gigafactory starting from 2026. The agreement is for 1 GWh per year for a duration of 10 years following a pricing formula that passes through raw material cost to the customer.
Nanotech Energy, Soteria Battery Innovation Group, and Voltaplex Energy will be working together to address safety concerns related to e-bike batteries. The partnership aims to commercialize U.S produced non-flammable graphene-enhanced lithium-ion battery packs by early 2024.
As part of the production process, Nanotech Energy will combine Soteria’s metallized polymer current collectors with their own electrolyte and proprietary electrodes to create high energy, ultra-safe 18650 cells. These cells will initially be manufactured at Nanotech Energy’s facility in Chico, CA, with plans to expand production capacity in the US and Europe. Voltaplex Energy will then utilize these cells to develop battery packs specifically designed for the e-bike, robotics, medical, and military markets. Expansion into other small device markets is also anticipated.
Haydale and PETRONAS Technology Ventures (PTVSB), the technology commercialization arm of Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), have executed a collaboration agreement to functionalize graphene for product applications, in an effort to accelerate commercialization of graphene-based formulations in various different industries.
The agreement, which runs through to 31 December 2025, will see the parties exploring graphene for further commercial applications in battery cells, composites, coatings and thermal materials, among others. The collaboration will also cover knowledge sharing between the parties.
The Graphene Flagship, Europe's $1 billion graphene research initiative, has summed up its progress in advancing graphene-based innovations for automotive in the last ten years. The project examines, among other topics, how graphene can address key challenges in the automotive sector, such as fuel efficiency, recycling, and environmental impact.
Graphene has the potential to drive significant advancements in the automotive industry — from strengthening structural components to improving electrochemical energy storage (i.e., Batteries) efficiency and safety in electric cars as well as enhancing the performance of the self-driving car. The Graphene Flagship has orchestrated a number of projects researching the benefits of graphene in automotive applications and how vehicles can be improved. The Graphene Flagship reports it is now seeing this research and development come to fruition. Listed below are the automotive-related advancements that were achieved.
Lyten has announced the commissioning of its Lithium-Sulfur battery pilot line during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at its facility in Silicon Valley. Lyten has confirmed that its proprietary 3D Graphene will be used within the battery, as part of its chemistry.
The Lithium-Sulfur pilot line will reportedly begin delivering commercial battery cells in 2023 to early adopting customers within the defense, automotive, logistics, and satellite sectors. Battery delivery will be used to support testing, qualification and initial commercialization across the sectors. Reservations for the remaining battery cells will be limited by the pilot line’s nameplate capacity of 200,000 cells per year.
Researchers from Purdue University have developed patent-pending, solid-state, continuously tunable thermal devices based on compressible graphene foam composites. The devices can dissipate heat, insulate against cold and function across a wide range of temperatures.
The devices have the potential to improve battery safety and performance in electronic devices and systems like battery thermal management, space conditioning, vehicle thermal comfort and thermal energy storage.
Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) recently announced the signing of a binding Joint Development Agreement ("JDA") with Rio Tinto, with the goal of accelerating the development and application of GMG's Graphene Aluminium-Ion batteries in the mining and minerals industry. GMG followed up on that announcement with an update on a series of changes, intended to further align development activities and support the progression of the Battery JDA.
First, the company said consumer feedback made it clear that pouch cell, rather than coin cell, batteries were of greatest interest to potential key customers. Additionally, the progression of the battery from the current Battery Technology Readiness Level (BTRL) Level 2-3 (Scientific Proof of Concept into Electrochemical Development) could be accelerated by having potential customer partners help define operating and design characteristics, the company said.