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Graphene enables a more robust electrical system

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, April 27, 2020
The use of more renewable energy sources in Europe will rely on the smart electric grids, able to distribute and store energy matching production and demand. Circuit breakers are safety-critical components of electric grids, associated with very high and recurring maintenance costs. By adding graphene to the circuit breakers, the electrical system will become more robust and reduce the costs of maintenance drastically.

Low voltage circuit breakers, common in domestic and industrial applications, need grease to function properly. The grease is applied to all circuit breakers during manufacturing. The problem is that the grease stiffens and dries out with age and has a narrow temperature range. This leads to a metal-to-metal wear that must be serviced at high maintenance costs, and to an increased risk of circuit breaker failure. Lack of lubrication is the number one problem that test technicians find when servicing circuit breakers in the field. 

Self-lubrication properties enables maintenance free operation
Graphene is a material with self-lubricating properties; the Swedish company ABB, partner of the Graphene Flagship research program, has recently demonstrated that multifunctional graphene-metal composite coatings could improve the tribological (interactive surfaces in relative motion) performance of metal contacts. ABB will thus lead a new project, starting in April 2020, with the aim to take such graphene-based composites to commercial applications.

The project, named “Circuitbreakers” is one of eleven selected Spearhead projects funded by the Graphene Flagship, Europe’s biggest initiative on graphene research, involving more than 140 universities and industries located in 21 countries. Chalmers University of Technology is the coordinator of the Graphene Flagship.
 
Prototype for industrial use
All spearheads will start in April 2020, building on previous scientific work performed in the Graphene Flagship in last years. The aim of the Circuitbreakers project is to develop a fully functional and tested prototype ready for industrial implementation in just three years. This new generation of circuit breakers will be self-lubricant and have a wider temperature range than existing circuit breaker options. This will enable maintenance-free operation, which will save business huge costs and reduce the risk on any undesired outage of the electrical system due to circuit breaker failure.

Extensive experience of graphene- and graphene-based composites
Prof. Vincenzo Palermo and Dr. Jinhua Sun from the Department of Industrial and Materials Science, Chalmers University of Technology will support ABB in the spearhead project providing new solutions to process graphene in coatings, to fabricate graphene-enhanced circuit breaker prototypes for practical application in the industrial scale. The research group has more than ten years of research experience in graphene and graphene-based composites. Their knowledge on characterization and processing of graphene-based materials will help industrial partners to select the appropriate graphene raw materials.

Prof. Palermo and Dr. Sun will help work on developing new chemical procedures and industrial applicable processing methods to coat graphene on the major component of circuit breakers. In addition, the advanced characterization techniques available at Chalmers Materials Analysis Laboratory (CMAL) will be important to evaluate the added value of graphene on the performance of circuit breaker.

Tags:  ABB  Chalmers University of Technology  energy  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  Jinhua Sun  Vincenzo Palermo 

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DST INSPIRE Faculty develops nanomaterials having energy storage application & optical sensors for water pollution control

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, April 25, 2020
A recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty Award instituted by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India. Dr. Ashish Kumar Mishra, Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), Varanasi, has made significant achievements in developing nanomaterials based supercapacitors to achieve high energy density and power density of supercapacitors, along with his group.

Increasing energy demand due to the growth of human population and technological advancement poses a great challenge for human society. High energy density of supercapacitors suggests that constant current can be withdrawn for longer duration without recharging. Hence automobiles can run longer distances without charging. Supercapacitors can be an alternative for such purposes.

Dr. Mishra and his research group at IIT (BHU) have developed a reduced graphene oxide (rGO) at a moderate temperature of 100°C with high capacitance performance. The production process is a cost-effective one, making it suitable for commercial purposes. This work has been published in Materials Research Express.

The group which works on carbon (Carbon Nanotubes, Graphene) and metal dichalcogenides (MoS2, MoSe2, etc.) nanomaterials based supercapacitors to achieve high energy density and power density of supercapacitors, have also developed a novel green approach for synthesis of Iron-based nanocatalyst, which can be used for large scale production of Cabon Nanotubes.

In addition to energy storage, Dr. Mishra’s group is also working on optoelectronic applications of nanomaterials. In this context, they are working on developing novel nanostructures of carbon and metal dichalcogenides semiconductors for photodetection and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Through this work, they have demonstrated excellent photodetection behaviour of different architectures of nanoscale MoS2 for the detection of visible light. The high photoresponsivity obtained in this work can be useful to develop ultrafast detectors for signalling purpose. The work has been published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

The SERS can help detect harmful molecules present in water at ultra-low concentrations. His group has successfully demonstrated detection of Rhodamine 6G (R6G), an organic laser dye up to lowest limit of sub-nano-molar concentration using rGO and MoS2 nanomaterials. This work has been published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C. They have also examined the nonlinear optical response of the material developed, which suggests that some of these materials can be used to develop protectors for high power light sources like lasers.

Their focus on energy and optoelectronics devices paves the way for the development of cost-effective and efficient devices, which can be used for energy storage application. Their findings make way for materials which can be used as advanced photodetectors and also be used as optical sensors for water pollution control.

Tags:  Ashish Kumar Mishra  Cabon Nanotubes  Energy  energy storage  Graphene  graphene oxide  Indian Institute of Technology (BHU)  nanomaterials  supercapacitors 

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Haydale Graphene Industries PLC signed Exclusive Distributor Agreement for Electrically Conductive Graphene-Enhanced Masterbatch

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Haydale, the global advanced materials group, is pleased to announce that it has signed an exclusive distributor agreement between Haydale and Dalian Yibang Technology Co., Ltd. The Agreement is for an initial period of 4 years and allows DLYB exclusive distributor rights to market Haydale's electrically conductive graphene-enhanced masterbatch in the Chinese and Taiwanese markets.

The Agreement sees DLYB pay Haydale an initial licence fee and thereafter, the parties will work towards completion of field testing, securing the requisite licences and final certifications from the relevant authorities. Haydale will supply masterbatch and associated consultancy services at an additional cost during the pre-commercialisation phase of the Agreement. Haydale expects the contract to move from the R&D to the commercial phase in 2021 and the parties have agreed minimum annual revenue thresholds which commence at US$300,000 for the calendar year 2021 and increase annually thereafter. In order to ensure the highest standards of quality assurance, the parties have agreed that all masterbatch will be supplied by Haydale from its facilities.

DLYB has been at the forefront of introducing and servicing high-end imported products for 15 years in China, which included the introduction of copper mesh for the purpose of lightning strike protection in both aerospace and wind energy sectors. It has obtained the international aviation quality management certification AS9120 and focuses on cutting-edge and high precision materials and technical solutions for aerospace, marine, railway, wind power, battery energy and industrial filtration industries. Using its existing experience and access to market, DLYB expects to use Haydale's electrically conductive graphene-enhanced masterbatch technology to develop and sell applications into these sectors. Examples of these applications are focused on electrical screening, control of edge glow and the development of lightning strike products for the civil aviation, defence, UAV and wind energy markets.

Yuefeng Zou, CEO at DLYB, said: "Having already introduced leading-edge technology to prevent lightning strike into the Chinese Aerospace and wind energy industries, we are delighted to be working with Haydale and its world leading technology to introduce the next generation of environmentally friendly technology in this field."

Keith Broadbent, Haydale CEO, said: "We are pleased to announce this partnership. With the extensive expertise of Haydale, alongside the market knowledge of DLYB, this new contract will open up fantastic opportunities for the commercialisation of this state of art technology in both China and Taiwan."

Tags:  Aerospace  Dalian Yibang Technology  Energy  Graphene  Haydale  Keith Broadbent  Yuefeng Zou 

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New material developed could help clean energy revolution

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, March 27, 2020
Researchers developed a promising graphene–carbon nanotube catalyst, giving them better control over hugely important chemical reactions for producing hydrogen fuel

Fuel cells and water electrolyzers that are cheap and efficient will form the cornerstone of a hydrogen fuel based economy, which is one of the most promising clean and sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. These devices rely on materials called electrocatalysts to work, so the development of efficient and low-cost catalysts is essential to make hydrogen fuel a viable alternative.  Researchers at Aalto university have developed a new catalyst material to improve these technologies.

The oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are the most important electrochemical reactions that limit the efficiencies of hydrogen fuel cells (for powering vehicles and power generation), water electrolyzers (for clean hydrogen production), and high-capacity metal-air batteries. Physicists and chemists at Aalto collaborating with researchers at CNRS France, and Vienna in Austria have developed a new catalyst that drive these reactions more efficiently than other bifunctional catalysts currently available. The researchers also found that the electrocatalytic activity of their new catalyst can be significantly altered depending on choice of the material on which the catalyst was deposited.

“We want to replace traditional expesive and scarce catalysts based on precious metals like platinum and iridium with highly active and stable alternatives composed of cheap and earth-abundant elements such as transition metals, carbon and nitrogen.” says Dr Mohammad Tavakkoli, the researcher at Aalto who led the work and wrote the paper.

In collaboration with CNRS the team produced a highly porous graphene–carbon nanotube hybrid and doped it with single atoms of other elements known to make good catalysts. Graphene and carbon nanotube (CNT) are the one‐atom‐thick two- and one‐dimensional allotropes of carbon, respectively, which have attracted tremendous interest in both academia and industry due to their outstanding properties compared more traditional materials. They developed an easy and scalable method to grow these nanomaterials at the same time, combining their properties in a single product. “We are one of the leading teams in the world for the scalable synthesis of double-walled carbon nanotubes. The innovation here was to modify our fabrication process to prepare these unique samples,” said Dr Emmanuel Flahut, research director at CNRS.

In this one-step process, they could also dope the graphene with nitrogen and/or metallic (Cobalt and Molybdenum) single-atoms as a promising strategy to produce single-atom catalysts (SACs). In catalysis science, the new field of SACs with isolated metal atoms dispersed on solid supports has attracted wide research attention because of the maximum atom-utilization efficiency and the unique properties of SACs. Compared with rival strategies for making SACs, the method used by the Aalto & CNRS team provides an easy method which takes place in one step, keeping costs down.
Catalyst substrate can boost performance

Catalysts are usually deposited on an underlying substrate. The role this substrate plays on the final reactivity of the catalyst is usually neglected by researchers, however for this new catalyst, the researchers spotted the substrate played an important part in its efficiency. The team found porous structure of their material allows to access more active catalyst sites formed at its interface with the substrate, so they developed a new electrochemical microscopy analysis method to measure how this interface could contribute to catalyze the reaction and produce the most effective catalyst. They hope their study of substrate effects on the catalytic activity of porous materials establishes a basis for the rational design of high-performance electrodes for the electrochemical energy devices and provides guidelines for future studies.

Tags:  Aalto university  carbon nanotube  CNRS  Emmanuel Flahut  energy  Graphene  Mohammad Tavakkoli 

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Graphene solar heating film offers new opportunity for efficient thermal energy harvesting

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, March 16, 2020
Researchers at Swinburne’s Centre for Translational Atomaterials have developed a highly efficient solar absorbing film that absorbs sunlight with minimal heat loss and rapidly heats up to 83°C in an open environment.

The graphene metamaterial film has great potential for use in solar thermal energy harvesting and conversion, thermophotovoltaics (directly converting heat to electricity), solar seawater desalination, wastewater treatment, light emitters and photodetectors.

The researchers have developed a prototype to demonstrate the photo-thermal performance and thermal stability of the film. They have also proposed a scalable and low-cost manufacturing strategy to produce this graphene metamaterial film for practical applications.

“In our previous work, we demonstrated a 90 nm graphene metamaterial heat-absorbing film,” says Professor Baohua Jia, founding Director of the Centre for Translational Atomaterials.

“In this new work, we reduced the film thickness to 30 nm and improved the performance by minimising heat loss. This work forms an exciting pillar in our atomaterial research.”

Lead author Dr Keng-Te Lin says: “Our cost-effective and scalable structured graphene metamaterial selective absorber is promising for energy harvesting and conversion applications. Using our film an impressive solar to vapour efficiency of 96.2 per cent can be achieved, which is very competitive for clean water generation using renewable energy source.”

Co-author Dr Han Lin adds: “In addition to the long lifetime of the proposed graphene metamaterial, the solar-thermal performance is very stable under working conditions, making it attractive for industrial use. The 30 nm thickness significantly reduced the amount of the graphene materials, thus saving the costs, making it accessible for real life applications.”

The research is published in Nature Communications and has been funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project and the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Surface Engineering for Advanced Materials (SEAM).

Tags:  Energy  Graphene  Han Lin  Keng-Te Lin  solar cells  Swinburne University of Technology 

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Microcavities save organic semiconductors from going dark

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, December 2, 2019
More and more electronics manufacturers are favoring organic LED displays for smartphones, TVs and computers because they are brighter and offer a greater color range.

The organic semiconductors that drive these devices are highly flexible and easily controlled. They also have the potential to be mass produced more readily than inorganic semiconductors such as silicon, which require higher temperatures for processing.

But there is a dark side to purely organic LEDs: They can be incredibly wasteful, losing up to 75% of their energy because organic semiconductors have a tendency to enter “dark states” in which they don’t emit light. These states sometimes even lead to the devices breaking down. Researchers have been looking for ways to either harness these dark states or jettison them altogether.

A collaboration led by Andrew Musser, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Jenny Clark of the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, has found a way to keep these organic semiconductors from going dark. Musserused tiny sandwich structures of mirrors, called microcavities, to trap light and force it to interact with a layer of molecules, forming a new hybrid state, known as a polariton, that mixes light and matter.This approach could lead to brighter, more efficient LEDs, sensors and solar cells.

The team’s paper, “Manipulating Molecules with Strong Coupling: Harvesting Triplet Excitons in Organic Exciton Microcavities,” published in Chemical Science.

“In the LED world, people are putting huge efforts into designing these vast libraries of molecules and testing them in different device configurations to see if, by tweaking the bonds or changing energy levels, they can harvest these dark states more efficiently,” Musser said. “It’s a cumbersome, difficult battle because it’s really hard to design molecules. And you don’t necessarily know how to make them do what you want.

“So what we’ve done here is address that problem with a standard molecule, purely by putting it between these mirrors and tuning the way it interacts with light,” he said. “This suggests that, for some phenomena, we can bypass a lot of this cumbersome synthetic exploration and tune the molecules at a distance.”

Musser’s interest in polaritons began while he was studying the ways organic semiconductors can improve light-harvesting efficiency in solar cells. In that case, molecules undergo a process called singlet fission, in which they absorb one photon and split that energy into two “packets” – essentially two excited electrons – thereby doubling the photon current efficiency in the solar cell.

Musser began investigating how the reverse process can also occur, with two packets of energy combining into a single, high-energy state that can emit a high-energy photon. That led him to microcavities and the ways these simple optical structures can have a profound effect on organic material through light.

In addition to manipulating a molecule’s electronic properties for enhanced brightness, recent research has demonstrated that these structures also can be used to target specific bonds and change their chemical reactivity.

Musser said different molecules interact with light in the microcavities in different ways, and further research is needed to explore the rules that underpin their behavior.

“Right now, it serves to show that when you have these complex materials and you do something even more complicated with them – putting them between these mirrors – weird and wonderful things can happen,” Musser said.

“This work literally sheds light on dark states,” said Clark. “We’ve shown that we can use polaritons to force dark states to emit light. Apart from immediate applications for LEDs, this offers a new method for studying organic semiconductors more broadly, using previously unavailable techniques.” 

Tags:  Andrew Musser  Chemical Science  energy  Graphene  Jenny Clark  LED  Semiconductor  silicon  smartphones  solar cell  U.S. Department of Energy  University of California  University of Cambridge  University of Kentucky  University of Sheffield 

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