University of Arkansas team aims to commercialize its revolutionary graphene-based VEH technology

A fascinating research out of the University of Arkansas, revealed in November 2017, showed that the internal motion of graphene (and possibly other 2D materials) may be used as a source of clean, limitless energy. Now, NTS Innovations (also known as Nanotube Solutions), a U.S -based nanotechnology company, has licensed this patent-pending technology from the university and plans to use it to fabricate devices and systems that produce energy without consuming fuel or creating pollution.

NTS Innovations focuses on the commercialization of nanotechnology and environmentally sustainable heating, water filtration and purification, as well as the production of green energy, all using 2D materials. The company sees great potential for this discovery in many applications. For example, it could be used to create sustainable, decentralized energy systems throughout the world, especially in places where the energy grid system is underdeveloped or nonexistent. It may also prove beneficial in biomedical devices, enhanced solar and wind production, capturing waste heat and remote sensing devices.

Stanford team demonstrates a graphene-based thermal-to-electricity conversion technology

Researchers at Stanford University have recently demonstrated a graphene-based high efficiency thermal-to-electricity conversion technology, called thermionic energy convertor. By using graphene as the anode, the efficiency of the device is increased by a factor of 6.7 compared with a traditional tungsten anode. This technology can work in a tandem cycle with existing thermal-based power plants and significantly improve their overall efficiencies.

Stanford team creates graphene-based TEC image

Hongyuan Yuan and Roger T. Howe, among the leading researchers in the Stanford team, explain that one of the major challenges for wide adoption of TECs is high anode work function, which directly reduces the output voltage as well as the net efficiency. The theoretical maximum efficiency for a TEC with a 2 eV work function anode is 3% at a cathode temperature of 1500 K, compared to an astonishing 10-fold increment to 32% with a 1 eV work function anode.

Crumpled graphene may benefit self-cleaning surfaces and batteries

Researchers at Brown University have demonstrated that graphene, wrinkled and crumpled in a multi-step process, becomes significantly better at repelling water - a property that could be useful in making self-cleaning surfaces. Crumpled graphene also has enhanced electrochemical properties, which could make it more useful as electrodes in batteries and fuel cells.

The researchers aimed to build relatively complex architectures incorporating both wrinkles and crumples. To do that, the researchers deposited layers of graphene oxide onto shrink films -polymer membranes that shrink when heated. As the films shrink, the graphene on top is compressed, causing it to wrinkle and crumple. To see what kind of structures they could create, the researchers compressed same graphene sheets multiple times. After the first shrink, the film was dissolved away, and the graphene was placed in a new film to be shrunk again.

Seamlessly bonded graphene and CNTs form a 3D material that maintains conductivity

In a research funded by a U.S. Department of Defense-Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grant and Wenzhou Medical University, an international team of scientists has developed what is referred to as the first one-step process for making seamless carbon-based nanomaterials that possess superior thermal, electrical and mechanical properties in 3D. The research may hold potential for increased energy storage in high efficiency batteries and supercapacitors, increasing the efficiency of energy conversion in solar cells, for lightweight thermal coatings and more. 

The group's early testing showed that a 3D fiber-like supercapacitor made with uninterrupted fibers of carbon nanotubes and graphene matched or even surpassed bettered the reported record-high capacities for such devices. When tested as a counter electrode in a dye-sensitized solar cell, the material enabled the cell to convert power with up to 6.8% efficiency and more than doubled the performance of a similar cell that used an expensive platinum wire counter electrode. 

Spanish university develops graphene-based catalysts for the energy industry

Researchers at the Spanish Universitat Jaume I have developed graphene-based materials that can catalyse reactions for the conversion and storage of energy. The technology combines graphene and organometallic compounds in a single material without altering graphene's properties like electrical conductivity.

The technology is expected to be of great interest to the energy industry and is part of what is known as "hydrogen economy", an alternative energetic model in which energy is stored as hydrogen. In this regard, the materials (patented by the UJI) allow catalysing reactions for obtaining hydrogen from alcohols and may also serve as storage systems of this gas.