Graphene and batteries

Graphene, a sheet of carbon atoms bound together in a honeycomb lattice pattern, is hugely recognized as a “wonder material” 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.

Graphene battery advantages imageThe advantages of graphene batteries

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 battery’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 battery’s anode and capitalizing on the material’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 “backbone” 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 car’s driving range and efficiency. While graphene batteries have not yet reached widespread commercialization, battery breakthroughs are being reported around the world.

Battery basics

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.

Battery scheme image

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.

Batteries vs. supercapacitors imageGraphene batteries combine the advantages of both batteries and supercapacitors

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 (60° degrees as opposed to the existing 50° 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.

 

Graphene batteries market report

Further reading

 

The latest graphene batteries news:

NanoXplore announces commissioning of graphene-enhanced silicon and anode active material pilot lines

NanoXplore has announced the successful commissioning of two anode material pilot lines, reportedly achieving remarkable energy density and product validation. The Company called this 'a pivotal moment in NanoXplore’s ongoing commitment to advancing sustainable energy storage solutions'.

NanoXplore’s proprietary silicon graphene technology (SiG™) produced in the pilot line, has achieved an energy density of 1150 Wh/L, and demonstrated compatibility with conventional graphite anodes, resulting in an energy density of over 800 Wh/L. NanoXplore remains dedicated to pushing the boundaries of energy storage capabilities using its advanced materials technology. The SiG™ family is supported by 11 patents which cover a range of different chemistries and extend to all cylindrical cell form factors.

Read the full story Posted: Dec 20,2023

Nanotech Energy in search of new US brownfield gigafactory site

U.S-based graphene batteries developer Nanotech Energy has stated its intention to secure a new US brownfield gigafactory site early in 2024 that will accelerate its commercialization of graphene-based non-flammable lithium-ion batteries.

The announcement follows Nanotech Energy's successful sale of its Reno, NV, site and represents the Company's ambition to satisfy increased customer demand. It plans to use the site for an up to 6GWh-per-year plant, marking the next step in its journey to bring US-made fast charging, high energy density and inherently safe batteries to market. The Company hopes the new gigafactory will be operational in 2025.

Read the full story Posted: Nov 23,2023

Researchers develop antimony alloy based reduced graphene oxide composite for faster charging sodium-ion batteries

Researchers from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) have developed electrode materials made of Tin antimony alloy based reduced graphene oxide composite which has the potential to enhance energy storage for sodium-ion batteries.

Sodium-ion batteries could offer enhanced energy efficiency, rapid charging capabilities, resilience to extreme temperatures, and safeguards against overheating or thermal runaway incidents. They exhibit reduced toxicity due to their lack of reliance on lithium, cobalt, copper, or nickel, which have the potential to emit environmentally harmful gases in the event of fire, according to a recent official release.

Read the full story Posted: Nov 14,2023

New project called GRAPHERGIA to revolutionize energy harvesting in textiles and battery technology

A consortium of 11 partners from six European countries has launched the GRAPHERGIA project, an ambitious 3.5-year Research and Innovation program, funded by €4.5 million under the Horizon Europe's Graphene Flagship initiative.

Aimed at redefining the integration of energy solutions into everyday life, GRAPHERGIA aims to transform how we use and store energy. Its main goal is to develop and deploy cutting-edge graphene-based materials into energy harvesting and storage devices. These advances would enable scalable and cost-efficient production of two-dimensional (2D) material technologies for a wide array of applications.

Read the full story Posted: Nov 11,2023

GMG and University of Queensland collaboration on graphene-enhanced batteries gets Australian Economic Accelerator funding

A partnership between the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) of The University of Queensland (UQ) and Graphene Manufacturing Group will aim to push forward the commercialization of graphene-enhanced batteries. The parties received financial support from the Australian Federal Government Economic Accelerator Seed Grant to promote the development of Graphene Aluminium-Ion Battery Technology.

“UQ will supply the material engineering technology and GMG has the battery fabrication facility so together we can further develop the Graphene Aluminium-Ion Battery Technology,” AIBN's Dr. Xiaodan Huang said. “A key feature of this battery technology is the faster recharging rate and longer life.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 25,2023

Researchers develop method for producing superior anodes for lithium-ion batteries

Researchers at China's Guilin University of Electronic Technology, China Nonferrous Metals (Guilin) Geology and Mining Co., Ltd., Dalian University of Technology and Reliability Physics and Application Technology of Electronic Component Key Laboratory have developed a method to enhance the energy storage performance of lithium-ion batteries, involving the modification of natural graphite through irradiation with a high-current pulsed electron beam (HCPEB).

The method relies on HCPEB to prepare self-supporting graphene without pollution irradiation. The team reported that graphite was instantaneously transformed into defective graphene structures and that the resulting graphene electrodes exhibited excellent lithium storage and cycling properties.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 23,2023

Skeleton Technologies secures €108 Million of financing from investors like Siemens and Marubeni

Skeleton Technologies recently closed a €108 million funding round that includes Siemens Financial Services (SFS), Marubeni Corporation and other investors. This funding will accelerate the development of next-generation products and finance the manufacturing expansion for supercapacitors and the company’s new high-power battery technology – the SuperBattery.

Skeleton Technologies’ CEO and Co-Founder, Taavi Madiberk, said: "Securing an investment from one of Europe's largest tech companies is a significant milestone for Skeleton. In addition to SFS’ investment, Siemens is also a key partner, supplier, and customer. Their expertise in industrialization and commercial partnerships will propel our growth and solidify our role in leading the energy transition”.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 14,2023

Researchers design metal nanocluster/graphene nanosheet composite-based battery separator for stable lithium–sulfur batteries

Researchers from China's Lanzhou University and Japan's Tokyo University of Science have harnessed the surface binding property and redox activity of platinum (Pt)-doped gold (Au) nanoclusters, Au24Pt(PET)18 (PET: phenylethanethiolate, SCH2CH2Ph), as a high-efficiency electrocatalyst in lithium–sulfur batteries (LSBs). 

Lithium–sulfur batteries (LSBs) can store three to five times more energy than traditional lithium-ion batteries and so they have emerged as a promising energy storage solution. LSBs use lithium as the anode and sulfur as the cathode, but this combination poses challenges. One significant issue is the “shuttle effect,” in which intermediate lithium polysulfide (LiPS) species formed during cycling migrate between the anode and cathode, resulting in capacity fading, low life cycle, and poor rate performance. Other problems include the expansion of the sulfur cathode during lithium-ion absorption and the formation of insulating lithium–sulfur species and lithium dendrites during battery operation.  While various strategies, such as cathode composites, electrolyte additives, and solid-state electrolytes, have been employed to address these challenges, they usually involve trade-offs and considerations that limit further development of LSBs.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 14,2023

Lyten to establish European headquarters in Luxembourg

Lyten has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, the Minister of Finance Yuriko Backes and the Minister of the Economy Franz Fayot to locate its European headquarters in Luxembourg. 

Lyten is also exploring opportunities to establish research and development capabilities in Luxembourg, including infrastructure to support collaboration with European customers on applications utilizing Lyten’s 3D Graphene platform. The facility would build on R&D in IoT sensing that Lyten already has ongoing in Luxembourg with an industry partner for the mobility sector.

Read the full story Posted: Oct 05,2023

Graphene-Info updates its Graphene Batteries Market Report

Today we published a new edition of our Graphene Batteries Market Report, with all the latest information. The batteries market is extremely active, as demand from EVs and mobile applications increases research and development efforts, and graphene is seen as a potential material to increase capacity, decrease charging times and improve other performance metrics. Indeed the new edition contains multiple updates, with recent achievements and projects.

Reading this report, you'll learn all about:

  • The advantages of using graphene in batteries
  • The different ways graphene can be used in batteries
  • Various types of graphene materials
  • What's on the market today

The report package also provides:

  • A list of all graphene companies involved with batteries
  • Detailed specifications of graphene-enhanced anode materials
  • Personal contact details into most graphene developers
  • Free updates for a year

This Graphene Batteries market report provides a great introduction to graphene materials used in the batteries market, and covers everything you need to know about graphene in this niche. This is a great guide for anyone involved with the battery market, nanomaterials, electric vehicles and mobile devices.

Read the full story Posted: Sep 19,2023