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Robust electrodes could pave the way to lighter electric vehicles

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, December 3, 2019
One of the biggest remaining problems facing electric vehicles – whether they are road-going, waterborne or flying – is weight. Vehicles must carry their energy storage, and in the case of electric vehicles this inevitably means batteries.

No matter how many advances electrical engineers make in improving energy density, batteries remain dense and heavy components, and this is a drag on vehicle performance.

One approach to reducing the weight of electric vehicles might be to incorporate energy storage into the structure of the vehicle itself, thereby distributing the mass all over the vehicle and reducing the need for a single large battery or even eliminating it altogether.

The stumbling block to this approach is that materials that are good for energy storage and release tend to have properties that are not useful for structural applications: they are often brittle, which has obvious safety implications.

A team led by a Texas A&M University chemical engineer, Jodie Lutkenhaus, now claims to have made progress towards solving this problem using an approach inspired by brain chemistry and a trick employed by shellfish to stick themselves to rocks.

In a paper in the journal Matter, Lutkenhaus and her colleagues explain how their studies of redox active polymers for energy storage led them to investigate the properties of dopamine, most familiar as a signal-carrying molecule in the brain involved in movement, but also a very sticky substance that mimics proteins found in the material that mussels use to fasten themselves tightly to any surface underwater.

The team used dopamine to functionalise – that is, chemically bond to – graphene oxide, and then combine this material into a composite with aramid fibres, better known as Kevlar. This composite is both strong and tough, with a structure and properties similar to the famously tough natural material nacre or mother-of-pearl, and the graphene in its structure conveys both lightness and electrical properties that make it useful as an electrode.

The researchers describe using this material to form the electrodes for a super capacitor, a kind of energy storage device which can be charged and discharged very quickly.

The paper reports the highest ever multifunctional efficiency (a metric which evaluates material based on both its mechanical and electrochemical performance) for graphene-based materials.

Tags:  batteries  electric vehicle  energy storage  Graphene  graphene oxide  Jodie Lutkenhaus  Journal Matter  mimics proteins  polymers  super capacitor  Texas A&M University 

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Graphene mapping 50 times faster

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, November 26, 2019
If we want to be able to create new and innovative components of two-dimensional materials like graphene, we need tools to characterize their quality. Raman spectroscopy is the gold standard for this, but its major disadvantage is the low speed. Apart from that, the laser light can also damage some of the two-dimensional materials. University of Twente researchers added a smart algorithm to the detection, resulting in ‘Raman’ working at least fifty times faster and making it more ‘gentle’ to sensitive materials. The research is presented in National Science Review.

Graphene is always raising high expectations, as a strong, ultrathin, two-dimensional material that could also be the basis for new components in information technology. There is huge need for characterization of graphene devices. This can be done using Raman spectroscopy. Laser light is sent to the material sample, and scattered photons tell us about the rotations and vibrations of the molecules inside, and thus about the crystal structure. On average, only around 1 in 10 million photons is scattered in this way. This not only makes it hard to detect the right information, it is also very slow: it may take half a second to image one single pixel. The question is if Raman still remains the best option, or if there are better alternatives. UT researchers Sachin Nair and Jun Gao keep Raman spectroscopy as a starting point, but manage to improve the speed drastically: not by changing the technique itself, but by adding an algorithm.

NOISE REDUCTION
This algorithm is not unknown in the world  of signal processing and it is called Principal Component Analysis. It is used  to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. PCA determines the characteristics of noise and those of the 'real' signal. The larger the dataset, the more reliable this recognition is, and the clearer the actual signal can be distinguished. Apart from that, modern Raman instruments have a detector called electron-multiplying charge-coupled device (EMCCD) that improves the signal-to-noise-ratio. The net result of this work is that processing one pixel doesn’t take half a second, but only 10 milliseconds or less. Mapping a single sample doesn't take hours anymore.An important feature for vulnerable materials like graphene oxide is that the intensity of the laser can be lowered two or three times. These are major steps ahead for getting a fast grip on the materials’ properties.                                                                                                              

MULTI-PURPOSE
Except for graphene, the improved Raman technique can also be used for other two dimensional materials like germanene, silicene, molybdenum disulfide, tungsten disulfide and boron nitride. Use of the algorithm is not limited to Raman spectroscopy; techniques like Atomic Force Microscopy and other hyperspectral techniques could also benefit from it.

The research has been done in the group Physics of Complex Fluids of Prof Frieder Mugele, part of UT’s MESA+ Institute. The researchers collaborated with the Medical Cell BioPhysics group and the Physics of Interfaces and Nanomaterials group, both of the University of Twente as well.

Tags:  Frieder Mugele  Graphene  graphene oxide  Jun Gao  Sachin Nair  University of Twente 

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ZEN Graphene Solutions Reports Preliminary Results for Graphene Aerogel Battery Tests

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, November 26, 2019
ZEN Graphene Solutions and its research partner, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt are pleased to report on additional encouraging results from their battery development program led by Dr. Lukas Bichler and his team at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus (UBC-O). UBC-O has created a Graphene Aerogel composite anode material using a proprietary aerogel formulation containing doping with either ZEN’s reduced Graphene Oxide (rGO) or Graphene Preliminary results indicate that relatively low loadings (<5 wt.%) of graphene-based material, combined with this proprietary aerogel structure, can result in an anode with a significant specific discharge capacity. 

Preliminary best results were achieved with a 2 wt.% loading of Graphene dispersed in aerogel and resulted in an initial specific discharge capacity of 2800 mAh/g and a discharge capacity of 1300 mAh/g after 50 cycles at a current capacity of 186 mA/g. These unoptimized results are believed to be better than those currently reported in the literature for Graphene Aerogel batteries. DLR and ZEN will present a poster of the battery results at the Batterieforum in Berlin, Germany in January 2020. Graphene-containing aerogels could have the potential to be a low-cost, low-weight, high-performance composite materials for near future energy storage applications.

DLR has applied for and received federal funding from the Helmholtz Association to create a new Helmholtz Innovation Lab, called ZAIT, or the Center for Aerogels in Industry and Technology, which will be working together with industrial partners on the development of Aerogels. ZEN supported this application with a letter of intent indicating the Company would continue to collaborate with DLR in developing graphene-based aerogel batteries and other graphene-based products.

“Our work with the team at DLR has led to very promising research and we look forward to continuing this research both at UBC-O and within the new Center for Aerogels in Industry and Technology (ZAIT), a Helmholtz Innovation Lab” commented ZEN CEO Dr. Francis Dubé. Also, Dr. Bichler indicated that “this partnership brings together expertise from Canada and Germany to jointly develop high-tech energy storage systems, which are currently not available on the market”.

Tags:  Batteries  Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt  Energy Storage  Francis Dubé  Graphene  graphene oxide  Lukas Bichler  University of British Columbia  ZEN Graphene Solutions 

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The Graphene Flagship Means Business

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Saturday, October 19, 2019

Leiden University spin-off, Crucell, is a world-famous biotechnology company. Johnson & Johnson acquired the business for close to $2.4 billion back in 2011. This mammoth sum of money highlights the potential of university or corporate spin-offs and their investment attraction.

There is a growing appetite for spin-offs and SMEs that have grown out of research. Here are four SMEs that are setting the pace in graphene and related materials (GRM) commercialisation in the Graphene Flagship.

EMBERION

Emberion develops and produces graphene photonics and electronics that revolutionise infrared photodetectors and thermal sensors. Applications include hyperspectral and thermal imaging, night vision and X-ray detection.

The business was a spin off company from Nokia. Following a long history of graphene research inside Nokia’s research organisation, the team joined the Graphene Flagship to take the work carried out on optoelectronics to the commercial market.

“Emberion was established in quite an early phase of product development,” explained Tapani Ryhänen, CEO of Emberion. “We had promising results and functional prototypes from our research and above all, we were able to get an agreement with venture capital investors.

"Emberion is focusing on various spectrometer and machine vision applications by producing novel image sensors. We provide products with broad wavelength range and low noise. Our image sensors can be used for example in agriculture, food processing and pharma industries."

During the next year, Emberion will start delivering its first imager products. The business will also commence with the Graphene Flagship GBIRCAM spearhead project, together with its partners, to bolster the readiness of graphene-enabled optoelectronics in industry.

GRAPHENEA

World leading graphene producer Graphenea, founded in 2010, was one of the first industrial partners to join the Graphene Flagship program. Graphenea participated in the proposal stages of the Graphene Flagship, collaborating closely since the inception of the EU-funded program.Business is booming for Graphenea. In 2018, the business generated €1.6 million, and is on track to grow by 25% in 2019.

Graphenea’s facilities are located in San Sebastián, Spain and Boston, USA. The 25 employees at Graphenea contribute to the successful development of graphene applications, including supplying CVD Graphene films, Graphene Field-Effect-Transistors chips (GFETs), Graphene Foundry Services (GFAB) and Graphene Oxides. Graphenea’s operation spans across more than 60 countries and a wide range of sectors.

“The collaboration between Graphenea and the Graphene Flagship has evolved over the last six years,” explained Iñigo Charola, business development director at Graphenea. “Our work has become incredibly industry-orientated, with focused spearhead projects to bring applications to market quickly and effectively.”

“Today, we are focusing not only on the production of graphene, but also developing our processing capabilities of the material. Our partnership with the Graphene Flagship provides the support to help reach this goal.” 

BEDIMENSIONAL

BeDimensional produces and develops graphene and 2D crystals for the manufacturing and energy industries. Its main target applications relate to coatings and paints and material production for energy applications.

As a start-up, BeDimensional was created as a spin-off company of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologica (IIT).

The research group started out their research in fundamental studies of electronic properties of two-dimensional semiconductor systems. They were also investigating some possibilities to tune the interaction of hydrogen and carbon by curving a graphene sheet. For this latter study, the team were approached in the initial stages of the Graphene Flagship project to set-up a work package on hydrogen storage.

After a two-year incubation period within the institute itself, BeDimensional moved onto the market after the acquisition of 51% of its shares by the Camponovo. The definitive push towards the path of industrialisation came at the end of 2018, after the €18 million investment from Pellan Group.

So, what’s next for BeDimensional?
After closing this round of investment, BeDimensional is now fully immersed in implementing its industrial and commercial strategies. The first production line of two-dimensional crystals is already operational and the business is in the process of setting up more laboratories for research and development.

“We need to strategically position ourselves at the right level of the industrial value chains linked to each specific application,” explained Vittorio Pellegrini, founder and scientific advisor for BeDimensional. “We believe it is crucial to establish partnerships and joint ventures with appropriate global players. At the same time, we will reinforce our investment in R&D by attracting the best people on board.”

BeDimensional has a clear mission and knows how it’s going to reach its business goals. Watch this space. 

VERSARIEN

Versarien, headquartered in Cheltenham, UK, is an engineering solutions company that delivers novel technologies for industrial applications. Through subsidiary companies, Versarien delivers targeted solutions as well as research and development into new, complementary technologies.

Versarien was founded in 2010 and has been an associate member of the Graphene Flagship since 2018, collaborating closely with researchers in the project.

The company has acquired multiple businesses under the Versarien group, including two spin-offs from high-profile universities carrying out graphene research.

In 2014, 2-DTech joined the group. 2-DTech was originally formed by the University of Manchester to manufacture and supply high quality graphene for research and development. It has now grown into a commercial operation not only supplying high grade graphene and other 2-D materials, but also working on the application of graphene in product development projects.

In 2017, Versarien acquired Cambridge Graphene Ltd. from the University of Cambridge. Cambridge Graphene develops inks, composites and supercapacitors based on graphene and related materials, using processes developed at the Cambridge Graphene Centre.

The Cambridge Graphene Centre’s mission is to investigate the science and technology of graphene and other carbon allotropes, layered crystals and hybrid nanomaterials. The spin-out company has commercialised graphene inks for novel technology applications.

These two Graphene Flagship spin-offs join the numerous other companies in the Versarien group, creating a real force to be reckoned with for graphene commercialisation and business growth.

Tags:  BeDimensional  Cambridge Graphene Centre  CVD  Emberion  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  graphene oxide  Graphenea  Iñigo Charola  Leiden University  Tapani Ryhänen  Versarien  Vittorio Pellegrini 

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Light-driven artificial muscle made with nanomaterials

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Monday, April 22, 2019
Updated: Saturday, April 20, 2019

Reporting their findings in Advanced Materials ("Plasmonic-Assisted Graphene Oxide Artificial Muscles"), researchers in China have developed a plasmonic-assisted holistic artificial muscle that can independently act as a fully functional motor system without assembling or joints.

The artificial muscle's low-cost integrated design consists of a composite layer uniform bilayer configuration made of gold nanorods embedded in graphene oxide or reduced graphene oxide and a thermally expansive polymer layer (PMMA).

The gold nanorods of varying aspect ratios endow the graphene nanocomposites with tunable wavelength response. This enables the fabrication of a light-sensitive artificial muscle that can perform complex limb-like motions without joints.

Combining the synergistic effect of the gold nanorods' high plasmonic property and wavelength selectivity with graphene's good flexibility and thermal conductivity, the artificial muscle can implement full-function motility without further integration, which is reconfigurable through wavelength-sensitive light activation.

Upon photothermal heating, the mismatch between the deformations of two layers leads to significant bending, replicating the muscle-like contraction from one layer and expansion from the other.

To demonstrate the light-addressable manipulation of complicated multiped robot, the team developed a holistic spider robot.

They patterned each leg of the spider with three nodes (see figure g above). Despite that the spider has been patterned on 2D film, it can deform into 3D structures under light irradiation due to the bending of its legs.

When the laser beam irradiates the legs one by one, the legs bend one after another, which induced the displacement of the gravity center of the spider accordingly. In this way, the researchers could control the spider robot to lean forward and move toward the right direction at an average speed of 2.5 mm per second.

The authors conclude that their work bridges the gap between ideal request and realistic restrictions of biomimetic motor systems, and decreases the amount of discrete parts, the number of postprocessing steps, and the fabrication time, and thereby offers new opportunities for biological aid and for biomimetic mini robots to be remotely operated.

Tags:  artificial muscle  Graphene  graphene oxide  nanocomposites 

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Light-induced active ion transport in graphene oxide membranes

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2019

Nanofluidic channels feature a unique unipolar ionic transport when properly designed and constructed. Recent research in nanofluidics has adopted reconstructed layered two-dimensional (2D) sheets – such as graphene oxide or clay – as a promising material platform for nanofluidics. These membranes contain a high volume fraction of interconnected 2D nanochannels.

Compared to other materials used for nanofluidic devices, such as anodized aluminum oxide membrane, block copolymer membrane and nanofluidic crystals, a unique feature of layered membranes is that the channels are horizontally aligned and the channel height (i.e., the spacing between the layers), which is responsible for confinement of the electrolyte, remains uniform throughout the entire thin film.

"However, mass and charge transport in existing membrane materials follows their concentration gradient," Wei Guo, a professor at the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, tells Nanowerk. "Attaining anti-gradient transport as effective as natural counterparts remains a great challenge in fully abiotic nanosystems."

In new work led by Guo, reported in Nature Communications ("Photo-induced ultrafast active ion transport through graphene oxide (GO) membranes"), the researchers demonstrate a coupled photon-electron-ion transport phenomenon through graphene oxide membranes.

It shows a straightforward way on how to power the transport in 2D layered materials using the energy of light.
"Using the energy of light, cations are able to move thermodynamically uphill over a broad range of concentrations, at rates orders of magnitude faster than that via simple diffusion," Guo explains. "Based on this mechanism, we developed photonic ion switches, photonic ion diodes, and photonic ion transistors as the fundamental elements for active ion sieving and artificial photosynthesis on synthetic nanofluidic circuits."

This is the first discovery of photo-induced active (anti-gradient) ion transport in 2D layered materials with extraordinarily high pumping rates. It provides a completely new way for remote, non-invasive, and active control of the transport behaviors in synthetic membrane materials.

"Using light to control the mass and charge transportation in fully synthetic membranes is the dream of a materials scientist, like me," says Guo. "As far as I know, many research groups currently are engaged in this field. However, their findings are restricted to use the light as a gate, allowing or prohibiting the transport. In contrast, we use the light as a motive force to realize active transport."

Upon asymmetric light illumination, a net cationic flow through the layered graphene oxide membrane is generated from the non-illuminated region to the illuminated region. This phenomenon is reported for the first time.



Against a concentration gradient, the pumping rates for cations can be five orders of magnitude higher than that via simple diffusion.

The team established a theoretical model and performed molecular dynamics simulations to unveil the mechanism. Light irradiation reduces the local electric potential on the graphene oxide membrane following a carrier diffusion mechanism. When the illumination is applied to an off-center position, an electric potential difference is built across the GO strip that can drive the transport of ionic species.

Superior to existing molecular transport systems, the light-induced active ion transport reported in this work does not rely on lipid or liquid membranes, which significantly improves its robustness and compatibility. In addition, it does not hinge on specific ion-binding shuttle molecules to achieve the transmembrane ion transport. Thus, its transport range can be at the scale of centimeters.

This work provides a new route for remote, non-invasive, and active control of the transport behaviors in synthetic membrane materials. It demonstrates a way to fabricate innovative membrane materials for active ionic sieving, artificial photosynthesis, and modular computation on integrated nanofluidic circuits.

Following the mechanism proposed in this work, as shown in the figure below, the researchers constructed photonic ion switches (PIS), photonic ion diodes (PID), and photonic ion transistors (PIT) as the fundamental elements for light-controlled nanofluidic circuits.



"So far in our lab, the photo-induced active ion transport systems has been developed to the third generation," notes Guo. "The photo-induced active ion transport phenomenon can be also found in almost the whole family of 2D semiconductors. There is tremendous room to further exploit their unique photo-responsiveness in liquid processable colloidal 2D materials. The present work opens up exciting new possibilities."

"Now, we are trying to amplify the generation of photocurrent and voltage, and scale up the membrane materials with, for example, printing techniques," he concludes. "Also, we intend to further extend the scope of the materials with which the active transport behaviors can take place."

Tags:  2D materials  Beijing  Chinese Academy of Sciences  Graphene  graphene oxide  photonics  Wei Guo 

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Nanotech Energy, the UCLA Energy Incubator and Holder of First Patent for Graphene Announces Profound Achievement in Production of High Quality Graphene Based Materials

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Nanotech Energy, a leading supplier of graphene, graphene oxide and graphene super batteries, announced today that it has cleared a monumental hurdle in the production of high-quality graphene-based materials. The first patent for Graphene, now exclusively licensed to Nanotech Energy, was filed in 2002 by Dr. Richard Kaner, Nanotech co-founder and UCLA professor of Chemistry and of Materials Science and Engineering.

Through its proprietary technology, Nanotech Energy is now able to produce graphene with an unsurpassed surface area of over 2,500 meters squared per gram, almost the theoretical limit. A second version of graphene with a surface area of 2,000 to 2,200 meters squared per gram, measured by methylene blue adsorption is available for purchase based on downstream application, while the other version of over 2,500 meters squared per gram is being used only for Nanotech’s downstream products.

Graphene is a single layer of carbon with a theoretical surface area limit of slightly over 2,600 meters squared per gram. The surface area determines how many electrons can be stored and, in turn, how much energy can be stored in batteries and supercapacitors. Without the large surface area, graphene loses most of its superlatives and behaves just like graphite.

Jack Kavanaugh, Nanotech founder and CEO said, ”Nanotech Energy has created a remarkable technology that reaches the boundaries of superior energy density, power density, cycle life and, most importantly, safety. It’s an exciting time for the company and the industry.”

Dr. Maher El-Kady added “it’s widely accepted that the properties of graphene vary depending on the number of layers. The high surface area of our graphene has potential to dramatically transform the graphene industry. We already produce super-batteries, supercapacitors, conductive inks and conductive epoxies with unprecedented performance and have responsibly extended our leads in each of those arenas by making them all safer.”

Dr. Kaner further added, “After tests have demonstrated that almost all graphene sold today is really thin layer graphite and not graphene, this is a major step forward to be able to scale real graphene with a surface area (over 2500 m 2 /g) that approaches the theoretical limit.”

Tags:  Batteries  Graphene  graphene oxide  Nanotech Energy 

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Graphene and related materials safety: human health and the environment

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Monday, January 28, 2019
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2019

As the drive to commercialise graphene continues, it is important that all safety aspects are thoroughly researched and understood. The Graphene Flagship project has a dedicated Work Package studying the impact of graphene and related materials on our health, as well as their environmental impact. This enables safety by design to become a core part of innovation.



Researches and companies are currently using a range of materials such as few layered graphene, graphene oxide and heterostructures. The first step to assess the toxicology is to fully characterise these materials. This work overviews the production and characterisation methods, and considers different materials, which biological effects depend on their inherent properties.

"One of the key messages is that this family of materials has varying properties, thus displaying varying biological effects. It is important to emphasize the need not only for a systematic analysis of well-characterized graphene-based materials, but also the importance of using standardised in vitro or in vivo assays for the safety assessment," says Bengt Fadeel, lead author of this paper working at Graphene Flagship partner Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.

"This review correlates the physicochemical characteristics of graphene and related materials to the biological effects. A classification based on lateral dimensions, number of layers and carbon-to-oxygen ratio allows us to describe the parameters that can alter graphene's toxicology. This can orient future development and use of these materials," explains Alberto Bianco, from Graphene Flagship partner CNRS, France and deputy leader of the Graphene Flagship Work Package on Health and Environment.

The paper gives a comprehensive overview of all aspects of graphene health and environmental impact, focussing on the potential interactions of graphene-based materials with key target organs including immune system, skin, lungs, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, central nervous system, reproductive system, as well as a wide range of other organisms including bacteria, algae, plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates in various ecosystems.

"One cannot draw conclusions from previous work on other carbon-based materials such as carbon nanotubes and extrapolate to graphene. Graphene-based materials are less cytotoxic when compared to carbon nanotubes and graphene oxide is readily degradable by cells of the immune system," comments Fadeel.

Andrea C. Ferrari, Science and Technology Officer of the Graphene Flagship and Chair of its Management Panel added that "understanding any potential Health and Environmental impacts of graphene and related materials has been at the core of all Graphene Flagship activities since day one. This review provides a solid guide for the safe use of these materials, a key step towards their widespread utilization as targeted by our innovation and technology roadmap."

Tags:  Graphene  graphene oxide  Healthcare  The Graphene Flagship 

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UVA researchers devise method for converting retired Li-ion anodes to graphene and GO

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Saturday, December 29, 2018

Researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) have devised a process for converting retired Li-ion battery anodes to graphene and graphene oxide (GO). A paper on the work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

Schematic illustration of the proposed smart fabrication of graphene and graphene oxide from end-of-life batteries. Zhang et al.

… accompanying the booming expansion of the Li-ion battery market, a tremendous amount of batteries retire every year and most of them are disposed of in landfills, which not only causes severe waste of precious sources but also induces hazardous soil contamination due to the plastic components and toxic electrolytes. So far, only 1% of end-of-life Li-ion batteries have been recycled. Apparently, it is an urgent necessity to develop effective battery recycling techniques. 

… A rational strategy to simultaneously solve the environmental issues from waste batteries and graphite mining is to fabricate graphene directly from end-of-life battery anodes.

 

… Here, graphite powders from end-of-life Li-ion battery anodes were used to fabricate graphene.

—Zhang et al.

Graphite powders collected from end-of-life Li-ion batteries exhibited irregular expansion because of the lithium-ion intercalation and deintercalation in the anode graphite during battery charge/discharge. 

Such lattice expansion of graphite can be considered as a prefabrication of graphene because it weakened the van der Waals bonds and facilitated the exfoliation. 

—Zhang et al.

 

This “prefabrication” process facilitates both chemical and physical exfoliations of the graphite. Comparing with the graphene oxide derived from pristine, untreated graphite, the graphene oxide from anode graphite exhibited excellent homogeneity and electrochemical properties. 

The lithiation aided pre-expansion enabled 4 times enhancement of graphene productivity by shear mixing, the researchers found. 

The graphene fabrication was seamlessly inserted into the currently used battery recycling streamline in which acid treatment was found to further swell the graphite lattice, pushing up the graphene productivity to 83.7% (10 times higher than that of pristine graphite powders).

Tags:  Batteries  Graphene  graphene oxide  Li-ion  Li-ion batteries  UVA 

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Long-Established Chemical Company Continues to See Graphene Demand Increase

Posted By Dexter Johnson, IEEE Spectrum, Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When we first spoke to William Blythe back in 2016,  we were trying to get a handle on how a 170-year-old specialty chemical company found itself involved as a major graphene producer. Now nearly two years later we got to visit with the company again to see what’s changed from since we last spoke.

For those of you who would like more regular updates on what William Blythe is doing and thinking about when it comes graphene, you can visit their blog. And while there you can order some material on the same site

 Q: When we spoke to you 18 months ago, William Blythe expected to boost graphene oxide production to the tonnage scale within the next 6-12 months from a lab production level of around 20Kg. Has that production capacity increase happened?

A: William Blythe has definitely seen an increase in demand for graphene oxide since we last spoke. We have been working on scale up of all three of our graphene oxide products, with significant investments made and planned to ensure we always stay ahead of our customers’ needs. As application development has been slower than originally predicted by our customers, we have been able to scale to an interim production capacity of about 200 kg pa.

Q: At the time we spoke last, William Blythe was investing heavily in R&D, focusing on innovation and product development. How has that program developed over the last 18 months?

A: William Blythe has continued building its R&D program and has added several projects since we last spoke. One significant area of investment is in the energy storage sector, with a commitment to spend £1m over the next 3 years in energy storage research. One of these projects is in collaboration with the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester and aims to develop novel anode materials. As a company, we are very committed to developing the materials needed to enable the exciting technologies needed for the future.

Q: Can you also address along these lines how your supply line has developed, i.e. what are the expectations of your customers in terms of batch-to-batch consistency?

A: William Blythe’s customers, across our whole product range, always require the highest level of batch-to-batch consistency. Our products are generally used in demanding applications, where the performance of the product could be hugely affected by small variations in either the chemical or physical properties of the materials we supply. We pride ourselves on offering consistently high-quality products. Both the quality and batch-to-batch consistency of our graphene oxide has been commended by several customers.

Q: Are you still supplying strictly graphene oxide or have you branched out to other graphene products, such as single-crystal monolayer graphene? Why have you chosen one product approach, or the other?

A: As we discussed previously, William Blythe is an inorganic specialty chemicals manufacturer. The chemical exfoliation route we use to synthesize our graphene oxide is very well aligned with our core capabilities, which means we are very well positioned to scale the process effectively and successfully.

Q: We discussed ad hoc industry standards for graphene last time we spoke. Have those become more formalized? And what is the state of graphene standardization across producers?

A: A lot of work is taking place on standardization of graphene materials, however the early standards are more focused on graphene as opposed to graphene oxide. While standards are now being written and the first standards are now published, there is still a need to get the wider market on board as terminology is not always being fully understood and adopted by those in the graphene community.

Q: A year-and-half ago, William Blythe expressed confidence that graphene "will be well established in the supply chain of several industries within the next 5 – 10 years”. Has anything occurred since that then enforces that belief, or perhaps you have become more cautious?

A: Based on the work we know of in this market, the forecast of graphene oxide being well established in some industries by 2026 is very realistic. William Blythe is, as you know, working on increasing production capacity of their graphene oxide to meet customer demands over the coming years. While some applications are commercializing right now, William Blythe is also working on several longer-term projects, we expect these applications to take several years to commercialize, but would still anticipate commercial volume demand in these areas before 2026.

Tags:  graphene oxide  graphene production  specialty chemicals 

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