Graphene is not a brand new battery technology – the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded in 2010 to two scientists who pioneered its extraction. However, things have moved quickly in its development over the last five years. It is very thin, lightweight and has extremely high conductivity. Scientists are trying to enhance the capabilities of lithium ion batteries by incorporating graphene as an anode to offer much higher storage capacities with much better longevity and charge rate. Graphene is also being studied and developed to be used in the manufacture of supercapacitors which can be charged very quickly and store a large amount of electricity. Graphene-enhanced lithium ion batteries could be used in much higher energy usage applications such as electrically powered vehicles, or they can be used as lithium ion batteries are now, in smartphones, laptops and tablet PCs but at significantly lower levels of size and weigh. On that basis it would seem like the perfect solution for domestic and commercial renewable energy storage.
The key issues to date have been around forming it, isolating it from graphite and ultimately producing it on a large scale. Additionally, there are concerns about the use of toxic chemicals in its production. All that could be about to change…………
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and University of Western Australia have created a new process to develop graphene for use in energy storage and other material applications that is “faster, potentially scalable and surmounts some of the current graphene production limitations”. Whilst it is too early to say when such battery chemistry will be available and at what price point, it is once again an indication of the speed with which the sector is developing.
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