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Talga Boosts European Natural Graphite Resources

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, September 19, 2020
Talga Resources is pleased to announce significant increases in the Company’s natural graphite mineral resources within its wholly-owned Vittangi Graphite Project in northern Sweden.

Talga has completed a review of its four JORC (2012) compliant graphite mineral resources within Vittangi to standardise parameters for increased accuracy in upcoming feasibility studies and enable better mine planning, permitting and reporting.

The review also identified significant new Exploration Targets to be tested along strike and at depth from current resources, providing potential for future additional resource growth. Highlights  of results of the review include:

• Updated Nunasvaara South Mineral Resource Estimate defines 15% increase in total natural graphite resources at Vittangi

• Vittangi graphite mineral resource now stands at 19.5 million tonnes at 24.0% graphite (based on a revised 10% cut-off grade across the project)

• Vittangi remains the world’s highest grade natural graphite resource1, set to play a significant role in battery anode production for the booming electric vehicle market

• Talga’s total graphite resource inventory in Sweden increases to 55.3 million tonnes at 17.5% graphite, representing the largest source of natural graphite defined in Europe2

• Additional growth Exploration Targets totalling 26–46 million tonnes at 20–30% graphite defined within Vittangi and set to be drill-tested for potential further increases in scale

Note that the potential quantity and grade of the Exploration Target is conceptual in nature, there has been insufficient exploration to estimate a Mineral Resource and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the estimation of a Mineral Resource.

Commenting on the resource upgrade, Talga Managing Director Mark Thompson said: “We are pleased to continue defining and growing these globally significant and strategically important European graphite deposits.“

“The European Commission recently published an updated list of Critical Raw Materials necessary for the energy transition to a more sustainable society. Natural graphite features on this list of materials vital to European development as it forms nearly half the volume of active materials in electric vehicle batteries, where it is used as the anode.”

“With projected anode demand set to reach 3.2 million tonnes by 20303 the potential of Talga’s Swedish integrated natural graphite anode production facility is significant for the European electric vehicle supply chain and the ‘green’ economy.

Tags:  Batteries  Graphene  Graphite  Mark Thompson  Talga Resources 

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Projects Led by Pitt Chemical Engineers Receive more than $1 million in NSF Funding

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, September 19, 2020
Two projects led by professors in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have recently received funding from the National Science Foundation.

Lei Li, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at Pitt, is leading a project that will investigate the water wettability of floating graphene. Research over the past decade by Li and others has shown that water has the ability to “see through” atomic-thick layers of graphene, contributing to the “wetting transparency” effect. 

“This finding provides a unique opportunity for designing multi-functional devices, since it means that the wettability of an atomic-thick film can be tuned by selecting an appropriate supporting substrate,” said Li. “Because the substrate is liquid, one can control the wettability in real-time, a capability that would be very useful for water harvesting of moisture from the air and in droplet microfluidics devices.”

The current project will use both experimental and computational methods to understand the mechanisms of wetting transparency of graphene on liquid substrates and demonstrate the real-time control of surface wettability. Li and his co-PIs Kenneth Jordan, Richard King Mellon Professor and Distinguished Professor of Computational Chemistry at Pitt and co-director of the Center for Simulation and Modeling; and Haitao Liu, professor of chemistry at Pitt, received $480,000 for the project titled, “Water wettability of floating graphene: Mechanism and Application.” 

The second project will develop technology to help enable the widespread adoption of renewable energy, like solar and wind power. James McKone, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at Pitt, is collaborating with researchers at the University of Rochester and the University at Buffalo to develop a new generation of high-performance materials for liquid-phase energy storage systems like redox flow batteries, one of McKone’s areas of expertise. The project, “Collaborative Research: Designing Soluble Inorganic Nanomaterials for Flowable Energy Storage,” received $598,000 from the National Science Foundation, with $275,398 designated for Pitt.

McKone’s team will investigate the molecular properties of soluble, earth-abundant nanomaterials for use in liquid-phase battery systems. These batteries are designed to store massive amounts of electricity from renewable energy sources and provide steady power to the grid.

“Unlike the batteries we normally think of in phones and laptop computers, this technology uses liquid components that are low-cost, safe and long-lasting,” said McKone. “With continued development, this will make it possible to store all of the new wind and solar power that is coming available on the electric grid without adding a significant additional cost.” 

McKone is collaborating with Dr. Ellen Matson, Wilmot Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Rochester, and Dr. Timothy Cook, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University at Buffalo.

Tags:  Batteries  energy storage  floating graphene  Graphene  James McKone  Lei Li  nanomaterials  National Science Foundation  University of Pittsburgh 

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No more playing with fire: Study offers insight into 'safer' rechargeable batteries

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, August 21, 2020
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are a common type of rechargeable batteries. Their versatile nature and numerous applications in all sorts of electronic devices -- from mobile phones to cars -- makes them seem too good to be true. And perhaps they are: recently, there has been an increase in the number of fire-related incidents associated with LIBs, especially during charging, causing serious concerns over their safety. Scientists now know that these incidents can be due to the use of a broken or unauthorized charger. Often, improper use of these chargers and overcharging can lead to the formation of spiky structures on the negative electrode of the battery, called "lithium (Li) dendrites," which penetrate through the barrier between the negative and positive electrodes and cause a short circuit. Thus, looking at exactly how dendrite formation occurs is crucial to improving the safety of LIBs.

Scientists at Okayama University, led by Associate Professor Kazuma Gotoh, recently took a step in this direction, in a new study published in Journal of Materials Chemistry A. They delved into finding the precise mechanism of dendrite formation in LIBs, in an effort to overcome their limitations and make their practical application easier. Dr Gotoh explains, "We wanted to analyze the formation of metal dendrites in secondary (rechargeable) batteries and contribute to improve the safety of batteries."

Previous studies that tried to understand the process of Li dendrite formation were successful to some extent: they revealed that when the battery is in an overcharged state, dendrite formation occurs in the "overlithiation" phase of the battery cycle. But, these experiments were performed ex situ (outside the actual electrochemical environment), and thus the exact time of onset of dendrite formation was not found. In their new study, Dr Gotoh and his team decided to overcome this limitation. They figured that by applying "operando" methods (which replicate the electrochemical environment) to an analytical technique called "nuclear magnetic resonance" (NMR), they can accurately track the Li atoms in the inner structure of materials, which is not possible when using ex situ methods.

Using this technique, the team had previously succeeded in observing the overcharged states of two types of negative electrodes -- graphite and hard carbon electrodes -- in the overlithiation phase of an LIB. In the new study, they took this to the next level by observing the state of these electrodes during the lithiation and delithiation process (the "charge and discharge" cycle of the battery). Their NMR analysis helped them to track the precise onset time of dendrite formation and Li deposition in the overcharged battery, for both the graphite and hard carbon electrodes. In graphite, they found the Li dendrites form soon after the "fully lithiated" phase of the electrode occurs. In the hard carbon electrode -- in contrast -- they observed that dendrites form only after "quasimetallic" Li clusters occur in the pores of hard carbon. Thus, the scientists deduced that when the battery is overcharged, the quasimetallic Li cluster formation acts as a buffer for the formation of Li dendrites in hard carbon electrodes. They even applied the same analysis to another type of rechargeable battery, called sodium-ion battery (NIB), and found similar results. Dr Gotoh explains, "We found that some carbon materials having inner pores (such as amorphous carbon) have a buffer effect for the deposition of Li and Na dendrites during overcharging of batteries. This knowledge will play an important role in ensuring the safety of LIBs and NIBs."

By revealing the intricacies of the dendrite formation mechanisms in LIBs and NIBs, Dr Gotoh and his team provide useful insight into their safety. In fact, the scientists are optimistic that their findings can be applied to other types of rechargeable batteries in the future. Dr Gotoh concludes, "Our findings can be applied not only to LIBs and NIBs but also to next-generation secondary batteries such as all solid-state batteries. This is an important step in making their practical application easier."

With the findings of this new study, we can hope that we possibly are one step closer to realizing our dream of truly sustainable energy resources.

Tags:  Batteries  Energy Storage  Graphene  Kazuma Gotoh  Li-ion batteries  Okayama University 

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Hope for better batteries - Researchers follow the charging and discharging of silicon electrodes live

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, July 30, 2020
Whether smartphones or electric cars: Wherever electrical power is to be available on the go, it usually comes from rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. One of the two electrodes consists of graphite, in which lithium ions are stored to store energy. The disadvantage of the carbon material: its capacity is quite low - which requires frequent battery charging. That is why researchers worldwide are looking for alternative electrode materials for batteries with longer charging cycles.

Silicon pushes the storage capacity

Silicon is a promising candidate. Because it can absorb more than ten times as much ions as graphite. "In addition, silicon is one of the most common elements in the earth's crust and is available in almost inexhaustible quantities," says Dr. Sebastian Risse, who deals with the analysis of storage materials at the HZB. Some battery manufacturers are already using small silicon particles to improve the energy storage capacity of graphite electrodes. But this trick has limits. "When lithium ions are stored, the silicon expands to a multiple of its normal size," explains Risse. The result: the material gradually becomes brittle.

A team of researchers at HZB headed by Sebastian Risse has now investigated what is going on in the material in detail and in high resolution on electrodes made of crystalline silicon - and followed the physical processes during charging and discharging live as in a film. The basis for this is the multidimensional operando analysis - a technique that the Berlin researchers have developed in recent years. "We can use it to measure different properties at the same time and thus track changes in the shape of the material - while the battery is being operated in the usual way," says Risse.

Battery operation in coherent X-ray light

In addition to electrical measurements and recordings with an electron microscope, the Berlin researchers also rely on the phase contrast imaging method. "It uses a coherent X-ray beam that only a synchrotron can deliver," emphasizes Sebastian Risse. The physicist and his colleagues used X-rays from the HZB's BESSY II synchrotron storage ring for their experiments. In doing so, they targeted an electrode made of crystalline silicon as it went through several charging and discharging cycles. In the coherent X-ray radiation - in which all waves of the X-ray light vibrate in unison - the subtleties of the material structure lead to characteristic phase shifts. "This way, much more details can be observed than with an analysis with normal X-ray light," says Risse. The necessary know-how was managed by Dr.

The results of the high-resolution operando imaging of crystalline silicon electrodes provide new insights into the promising system. In this way, the researchers were able to show that when loading and unloading, a checkerboard-like fracture pattern emerges and disappears again. "Although the breaks get a little bigger each time they are unloaded, the pattern is retained," reports Risse. "There are no new breaks."

This is good news for using silicon in batteries. Additional hope gives another discovery. The storage of lithium ions in the crystal lattice of silicon takes place in two steps: First, a phase weakly loaded with lithium is formed, then a second phase, rich in lithium. The process is reversed when unloading. The Berlin researchers have now found that the material only breaks in the second step when the low-lithium phase is also discharged.

The foundation for persistent electricity donors

"If only one part of the silicon were used to store ions at a time, the macroscopic damage to the material could be avoided," concludes Sebastian Risse. And although they would not use up the full storage capacity, lithium-ion batteries with electrodes made of silicon could absorb much more energy than those made of graphite. Mobile phones would then have to be plugged in less frequently, and electric cars could cover longer distances with one battery charge. "There is still a long way to go," says HZB physicist Risse. But the scientific foundation for this has now been laid.

Tags:  Batteries  Battery  Graphene  Lithium  Sebastian Risse 

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Leading Edge Materials To Participate In Graphite And Graphene Anode Research Project

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, July 2, 2020
Leading Edge Materials announces the participation of its subsidiary Woxna Graphite AB in the newly launched research project “Graphite and graphene as battery electrodes” (the “Project”) which is part of the Vinnova funded competence centre Batteries Sweden (“BASE”).

The Project will research the utilization of natural graphite for battery applications through determination of functionality of the natural graphite in batteries, the addition of silicon to the graphite particles, long-term stability and characterization and optimization of the surface chemistry. The latter will look at innovative technologies for tailoring of the surface chemistry by for example surface coatings, covalent functionalization and artificial Solid Electrolyte Interphases.

BASE was created as an alliance for ultrahigh performance batteries with a long-term vision to address the energy storage challenges associated with the transition to a fossil-free society by developing new types of lightweight, inexpensive, sustainable and safe ultra-high-energy storage batteries. The competence centre, coordinated by the Ångström Laboratory and the renowned battery scientist Professor Kristina Edström at Uppsala University, was granted SEK 34,000,000 in funding by the Swedish governmental innovation agency Vinnova. The partners of BASE are leading Swedish academic institutions and industrial companies spanning the battery value chain; Uppsala University, Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, ABB, Volvo, Altris, Comsol, Graphmatech, Insplorion, Northvolt, SAFT, Scania, Stena Recycling, Volvo Cars and Woxna Graphite. (https://www.batteriessweden.se/)

Filip Kozlowski, CEO states “Being part of this project is a great opportunity for Woxna Graphite to contribute to the long-term vision of the Batteries Sweden alliance. Being able to supply natural graphite from Sweden could enable sustainable high-performance battery materials of the future. One of the focus areas, surface modification of spherical purified natural graphite is a key area of innovation to enable improved performance and cycle life for lithium-ion battery anodes.”

Woxna Graphite AB is the owner of one of the western world’s few permitted and fully built graphite mines, located in central Sweden near the town of Edsbyn. The Woxna graphite mine and production facility is comprised of four graphite deposits each with a mining lease, an open pit mine, a processing plant and tailings dam, located close to the town of Edsbyn, Sweden.  Due to market conditions for traditional graphite markets the operation has been kept on a production-ready basis. Ongoing development is directed towards test work focused on the possible production and modification of high purity graphite using thermal purification technologies for emerging high growth high value markets, one such example being the lithium-ion battery industry.  Other potential high-value end-markets being investigated are purified micronized graphite for metallurgical and electroconductive additives and purified large flake graphite as a precursor for the production of expandable graphite suitable as a feed for graphite foils and fuel cell bipolar plates. The purification and modification of natural graphite is very energy intensive and having access to low cost low carbon footprint hydropower offers the potential to become a market leader in terms of sustainability.

Tags:  Batteries  Filip Kozlowski  Graphene  Graphite  Leading Edge Materials  Woxna Graphite AB 

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Gridtential Energy and LOLC Advanced Technologies Team up on New Bipolar Battery Technology

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Gridtential Energy, the inventor and developer of Silicon Joule™ bipolar battery technology and LOLC Advanced Technologies, the research and advanced technology arm of LOLC Group announce that they have entered into a technology evaluation agreement.

Under the agreement, over the next few months, LOLC Advanced Technologies and Gridtential Energy will collaborate on prototyping lead batteries with the combined advantages of Silicon Joule™ bipolar silicon plates and AltaLABGX, the Graphene battery additive applied to active materials, supplied by Ceylon Graphene Technologies, CGT (a joint venture between the LOLC Group and Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC). Preliminary work indicates that the combination of these elements will lead to higher performing batteries in energy density, charging rates and cycle life.

Silicon Joule™ bipolar technology has created an innovative class of lead batteries with silicon at its core. It is a design driven, low cost, high performance, patented energy storage solution that provides improved power density, cycle life, dynamic charge acceptance and temperature range, with up to 40% lower weight, while retaining full lead-battery recyclability. This is all accomplished while leveraging existing technologies from mature industry supply chains – allowing rapid adoption of existing lead-battery infrastructure.

"We are pleased to be working with LOLC Advanced Technologies and Ceylon Graphene Technologies, leaders in battery manufacturing solutions and graphene battery additives respectively. We expect that leveraging leading-edge electro chemistry with our highly efficient Silicon Joule bipolar design will produce industry leading performance with significantly lower weight," said Gridtential Energy CEO, John Barton. "Whether it is longer cycle-life or greater charge/discharge performance, Gridtential is changing the way that OEMs in automotive, 5G telecom, and stationary power markets think about high-performance, low-cost, safe energy storage.

"Every day, we are making it easier to leap into the Silicon Joule Technology future. Whether it is through our rapid prototyping development kits, off-the-shelf reference batteries, equipment manufacturing partners, and now additive experts, the adoption ecosystem has never been stronger. We are pleased that more and more battery manufacturing companies are taking advantage of our technology - now with Graphene battery additive - to produce lead-based products that can compete with lithium. We are quite confident that first movers will be richly rewarded with commercial success."

With Silicon Joule™ bipolar battery technology from Gridtential Energy, that combines the benefits of lead batteries with silicon-enabled, high performance characteristics, battery manufactures world-wide, will be prepared to meet the challenge.

"Worldwide demand is increasing for superior energy storage systems at the edge and driving innovation. LOLC Advanced Technologies with Ceylon Graphene Technologies are improving battery electro-chemistry with our pure graphene and our advanced manufacturing expertise. Partnering with Gridtential's Silicon Joule bipolar solution will lead the advancements in safe, reliable and higher performing lead batteries," said, Chairman Ishara Nanayakkara, LOLC Group

Tags:  Batteries  Battery  Ceylon Graphene Technologies  Energy Storage  Graphene  Gridtential Energy  Ishara Nanayakkara  John Barton  LOLC Group 

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HKUST Research Team Successfully Discovers New Material Generation Mechanism for Chip Design, Quantum Computing and Noise Reduction

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, June 8, 2020
The research team of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has recently made important progress in the field of new materials. Combining the characteristics of two-dimensional materials and topological materials, the team has for the first time discovered a universal generation mechanism of new materials with "type-II" Dirac cones. Many extraordinary properties of the material are realized in experiments, which addressed the key issue that the material could only be obtained sporadically under stringent limits. This mechanism can guide the preparation of new two-dimensional materials that have specific directional responses to external signals such as electric fields, magnetic fields, light waves, sound waves, etc., and will provide valuable applications for modern electronic communications, quantum computing, optical communications, and even sound insulation and noise reduction materials. 

As a typical representative of two-dimensional materials, since its discovery in 2004, graphene has been regarded as one of the greatest material discoveries in the 21st century. As the thinnest, strongest and most thermally conductive "super material" in the world today, graphene has been widely used in transistors, biosensors and batteries, and its discovery led to the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics. On the other hand, topological materials, because of the existence of extraordinary properties such as zero-dissipative edge transport, are considered to be the cornerstones of the development of future electronic devices, and their discovery led to the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics. In fact, graphene is also a topological material, and its extraordinary properties are mostly derived from its topological "Dirac cones". However, the "Dirac cones" in graphene belong to the "type-I" Dirac cones of the theoretical predictions. The more unique "type-II" Dirac cones in the theoretical predictions, because of their strongly directional responses to external signals that the type-I Dirac cones do not have, will bring many more possibilities to the development and applications of electronic devices. However, so far, the "Dirac cone of the second kind" can only be found sporadically in some materials, lacking a systematic generation mechanism.

To address this critical issue, the research team led by Prof. WEN Weijia and Dr. WU Xiaoxiao, from the Department of Physics, for the first time, discovered and successfully implemented the systematic generation mechanism of new two-dimensional materials with type-II Dirac cones based on the relevant theories of two-dimensional materials and topological materials, using the band-folding mechanism (a material-independent, universal principle for periodic lattices). Due to its unique topological bands, its response to external signals is extremely directional, so the two-dimensional materials with type-II Dirac cones have important academic and application values for the designs of high-precision detecting devices of external signals, such as electric fields, magnetic fields, light waves, and sound waves. The systematic design and material independence of this scheme also help to relax the precision requirements for circuit designs, making the design of corresponding electronic products easier and more flexible. The team used acoustic field scanning techniques to directly observe the type-II Dirac cone in acoustics, as well as many of its properties that were only proposed in theories previously.

The success of this experimental study has opened up a new field of researches and applications of two-dimensional materials and topological materials, and brought many more possibilities for the future applications of the new materials. The findings of this study have been published in the renowned journal Physical Review Letters.

The ventilated sound absorbers developed by Prof. Wen’s group based on acoustic metamaterials. The ventilated sound absorbers can simultaneously achieve high-performance sound absorption and air flow ventilation, which is important for noise reduction applications in the environment with free air flows, such as air conditioners, exhaust hoods, and ducts.

"Our findings of the deterministic scheme for type-II Dirac points could profoundly broaden application prospects on fronts such as 5G communications, optical computing such as quantum computing and noise reduction. Our team plans to apply the experimental results to electronic devices such as dedicated chips, new touch control materials, filter modules, wireless transmission and biosensors.” said Prof. Wen, “Also, type-II DPs observed in acoustic waves suggest viable new materials for sound barriers, providing potential solutions for high-efficiency soundproofing walls. While we improve the performance of acoustic metamaterials, we will seek to continuously expand their applications in aspects ranging from low-frequency sound absorption, noise reduction in ventilation systems, intelligent active noise cancelling, traffic noise abatement to architectural acoustics. We also hope that these materials can be truly industrialized.”

Long engaged in researching the field of advanced materials, Prof. Wen and his team have made a range of key achievements in the basic and applied research of new materials science. In 2014, he was awarded second-class 2014 State Natural Science Award (SNSA) for the project on "Structural and Physical Mechanism Investigation for Giant Electrorheological Fluid".

Tags:  Batteries  biosensors  Graphene  Hong Kong University of Science and Technology  transistor  WEN Weijia  WU Xiaoxiao 

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Morrow Batteries to build the first giga battery cell factory in Norway

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, June 4, 2020
Morrow Batteries will in the coming years build and rapidly scale up battery cell production in Norway in order to meet increasing market demand and lead the drive for more sustainable batteries.

Dual-track technology strategy
To meet the rapidly increasing demand Morrow will initially manufacture cells based on the currently best available technology. However, Morrow inherits a technology platform which will, within the next decade, enable the factory to produce batteries that would be more sustainable, more cost effective and have better performance than the current generation of battery technology.

Green and cost-competitive cell factory
The giga battery cell factory will be located in the Agder region in the south of Norway which has a significant surplus of competitively priced renewable energy. It is also very close to a number of suppliers of critical raw materials and key European markets. This will enable the factory to become both highly cost competitive and one of the greenest battery factories in the world. Significant amount of upstream processes such as precursor preparation and active material synthesis, to the actual cell manufacturing and close loop recycling, will be 100% powered by renewable energy.

The Agder region also has a long tradition and a strong base of globally competitive electro-chemical process industry. This will help secure the factory with a highly skilled and experienced workforce.

Strong and committed industrial owners
The two lead investors of Morrow are Agder Energi and NOAH, owning 39% and 40% respectively. Agder Energi is one of the largest producers of renewable energy in Norway. It is partly owned by Statkraft, Norway’s state-owned renewable power producer, and a number of municipalities in Agder county. NOAH is an industrial company owned by the investor Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, who has a long history of building industry in Norway.

Towards a more sustainable battery
One of the key tenets of Morrows strategy is to significantly improve the environmental impact of batteries. Morrow’s strong environmental focus reflects the fact that one of the initiators of Morrow is the environmental foundation Bellona and its founder Frederic Hauge. Bellona has a long history and commitment to the environmental cause since it’s foundation in 1986.

As early as 1988, Frederic Hauge and Bellona imported the first electric car to Norway together with the well-known pop group A-ha in their fight for electrification, resulting in a range of favorable regulatory changes for electric cars. 20 years later, in 2009, he met with Elon Musk and Tesla. He then became convinced that the battery revolution for cars was here. Bellona teamed up with Tesla to introduce the company to the Norwegian and European market. Tesla choose to start up Tesla sales in Norway as one of first countries outside USA and has since been a success story. It is safe to say that the sustained effort from Bellona has speed up the transition to electric cars.

In 2010, Bellona started to scout for more environmentally friendly ways to produce batteries. As part of this process, Bellona came across Graphene Batteries which was working on Lithium-Sulfur technology development. Graphene Batteries has since achieved significant technological breakthroughs that have been independently validated by Fraunhofer, Europe's largest application-oriented research organization.

In 2017, Bellona became partner and co-owner of Graphene Batteries through the company BEBA, with NOAH as a seed investor. In 2020, BEBA, NOAH and Graphene Batteries joined forces with Agder Energi to establish Morrow Batteries. BEBA will continue as the Bellona Foundation’s company to accelerate battery ventures and industry.

Tags:  Agder Energi  Batteries  Graphene  Morrow Batteries 

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Graphene masks: facing up to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Since the development and isolation of graphene by researchers at Manchester University in 2004, the “2D miracle material” has been put to use in everything from airplanes to anti-corrosive paints, from batteries to body armour (read our earlier blogs Graphene: a new '2D' world and Advanced materials: game-changing graphene). Unsurprisingly, the wonder material is now being put to work in the global fight against COVID-19.

Graphene has been investigated in various biosensor set-ups, including nucleic acid sequencing devices (see the paper Graphene nanodevices for DNA sequencing published in the journal Nature) and diagnostic devices for the monitoring and treatment of HIV (see Graphene-info). Recently, Korean researchers have developed a graphene-based FET biosensor which can detect the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (the protein on the surface of the COVID-19 virus) from patients’ swabs in less than a minute (see Graphene-info).

However, one key issue in the fight against COVID-19 is maintaining a supply of high quality protective equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns for medical staff.

Among graphene’s myriad of useful properties is its antimicrobial activity attributed, among other reasons, to graphene’s ability to perturb membranes. Several teams have taken advantage of graphene’s antimicrobial, antistatic and electrically conductive properties to develop face masks which can be re-sterilised and, importantly, reused.

For example, IDEATI have developed a cotton fabric facemask with a coating containing both graphene and other carbon nanomaterials. The coating on the mask has been shown to reduce levels of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria by 99.95% within a 24 hour period. The graphene coating also repels dust and is effective against airborne particles of less than 2.5 microns in diameter. The mask can be washed and reused up to 10 times without losing its antibacterial or antistatic properties. The product has currently only been shown to be effective against bacteria. However, IDEATI are currently evaluating the masks antiviral properties (see Graphene-info).

An innovative approach to PPE
Taking a slightly different approach, LIGC Applications have recently launched a graphene-based respirator mask which claims to compete with gold standard N95 respirator masks. N95 respirator masks are used by medical staff as part of their PPE (personal protective gear) and can block 95% of particles over 0.3 microns. However, the COVID-19 virus is approximately 0.2 microns in diameter and can still be transmitted in tiny water droplets of less than 0.3 microns in size (see Graphene-info).

LIGC Applications’ “Guardian G-Volt” mask is allegedly 99% efficient against particles over 0.3 microns, as well as being 80% efficient against anything smaller. The mask has an electrically embedded graphene filtration system formed from laser-induced graphene, a microporous foam which is conductive and can trap pathogens.

The mask, powered by a portable battery pack which is plugged into the mask via a USB port, works by applying a low level electric charge to the surface to sterilise it and repel particles trapped in its graphene filter. The mask also has an LED light which alerts the user when the mask needs to be replaced. N95 masks must be disposed of once they become damp, however, the Guardian G-Volt can be heated and sterilised in a home docking system, which allows the mask to be safely reused.

Of course, wearing a mask alone will not give absolute protection against pathogens, such as the COVID-19 virus. But these advances illustrate that there are a plethora properties of graphene which can be utilised in different ways to achieve a common goal.

Tags:  Batteries  Graphene  Healthcare  nanodevices  Sensors 

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New Graphene Supercapacitor Materials Offer Fast Charging for Electric Vehicles

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, May 18, 2020
Introduction

Picture the scene, you are driving to a meeting and running late. The new company car is an electric vehicle (EV), power is running low and range anxiety is setting in. You pull into the service station on the motorway and head straight to the charging station. Instead of taking hours to charge, the car is fully charged in minutes. You pay at the fuel court and back on your way to the meeting in under 5 minutes. Welcome to the future.  Welcome to the world of graphene supercapacitors.

Batteries

We have seen dramatic improvements in battery technologies over recent years but range anxiety and the need for large battery powertrains for performance and commercial vehicles means that EV’s still have some way to go before they are universally accepted. EV’s are calling out for lightweight and more powerful powertrains. Capacitors and supercapacitors could be the answer.

Capacitors and Supercapacitors

Batteries provide high energy density, which means that they have the ability to provide power over a longer period, but they have low power density. Capacitors have a lower energy density but have a high power density and can charge and discharge very quickly providing high bursts of power when required.  In short, batteries are able to store more energy but capacitors can release energy more quickly.

Supercapacitors are generally categorised into three groups : electrostatic double-layer capacitors (EDLCs) using carbon electrodes, electrochemical pseudo-capacitors which use metal oxide or conducting polymer electrodes and hybrid capacitors such as the lithium-ion capacitor.  These differing electrodes – the first exhibiting mostly electrostatic capacitance and the others offer some chemical performance.

Supercapacitors, or ultracapacitors as they are sometimes called could be used in conjunction with batteries to provide powertrains at a reduced weight. Supercapacitors have the ability to tolerate high charge and discharge cycles and are capable of storing and discharging energy very quickly and effectively.  They can hold a much higher charge than traditional capacitors.  In vehicles, supercapacitors are predominantly used for regenerative braking.

Why are supercapacitors becoming important?

Lithium-ion battery technology has made huge advances and industry continues to make incremental improvements however, these do not meet the needs of the electric vehicle industry in terms of range, weight and cost. Supercapacitors can complement the chemical battery by providing bursts of energy when required, such as moving a large truck from a standing stop or short-term surge of power to accelerate a high-performance sports car.  Combining both battery and supercapacitor technologies into a new hybrid battery could satisfy both short and long-term power needs, reducing stress on the battery at peak loads, leading to longer service life.  Potentially, this could lead to smaller, lighter battery packs and vehicles due to supercapacitors taking part of the load and extending the range of EV’s.

Examples of Supercapacitor Applications

• Private and public electrical vehicles
• Port-cranes
• Automotives
• Rail sectors
• Grid energy storage
• Smart phones
• Other consumer electronics
• Sensors
• Wireless sensor networks
• Stationary storage
• Renewables integration
• Industrial vehicles
• Electric & hybrid buses
• Replacement for lead-acid batteries in trucks
• Provide burst of power in lifting operations – cranes, diggers etc.
• Provide fast flow of energy to data centres between power failures and initiation of backup power systems
• Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPS) – for back-up power systems, for example in data centres
• Actuators (Aircraft emergency doors)
• Work in conjunction with lithium-ion batteries or lead-acid batteries in vehicles like forklifts

Why Graphene-based supercapacitors?

It is clear that supercapacitors are a promising supplement to lithium-ion batteries, offering significantly high-power densities, resilience to multiple charge/discharge cycles and short charging times. However, growth in the supercapacitor market may be stifled by the limited capacitance of current materials and the inability of suppliers to effectively scale-up production. Graphene-based materials are a highly suitable alternative to these technologies.

Graphene-based capacitors are lightweight and have a relatively low-cost vs performance ratio.  Graphene lends far more strength compared with activated carbon.  In addition, graphene has a surface area even larger than that of activated carbon used to coat the plates of traditional supercapacitors, enabling better electrostatic charge storage. Graphene-based supercapacitors can store almost as much energy as lithium-ion batteries, charge and discharge in seconds and maintain these properties through tens of thousands of charging cycles.

Professors at the University of Manchester have developed an electrochemical process that enables the production of microporous, metal oxide-decorated graphene materials from graphite. Conventional activated carbon has a gravimetric capacitance of 50-150 Farads per gram, whereas laboratory trials show that these new graphene materials demonstrate a gravimetric capacitance of up to 500 Farads per gram.

Tags:  Batteries  electric vehicle  Graphene  Graphite  Li-ion batteries  supercapacitors  University of Manchester 

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