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Skeleton teams up with TalTech and Tartu University to develop flexible ultracapacitors

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, June 18, 2020
Researchers at TalTech's Polymers and Textile Technology Laboratory are working with Skeleton Technologies and the Institute of Chemistry at the University of Tartu to develop ultracapacitors with special durability properties. The project is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Skeleton is at the forefront of ultracapacitor technology. Working with universities and the European Space Agency is instrumental in keeping our technological edge by pushing us to explore new development pathways, says Egert Valmra, Programme Director at Skeleton.

These new types of ultracapacitors are specifically being developed for space technology because they are flexible, light and at the same time very strong. Researchers are using Curved Graphene to make bendable electrodes, which can be made into any shape. It can be useful in applications with extreme space constraints where you need to shape energy storage according to what kind of volume shapes you have.

"The importance of supercapacitors in today's technology is growing. By their nature, ultracapacitors are used primarily in situations where a large amount of electricity needs to be released quickly, " explains Andres Krumme, head of the working group and professor at TalTech's Polymers and Textile Technology Laboratory.

These ultracapacitors are made by electrospinning and consist of nanofibrous nonwovens. The fibers in these materials are 10 to 100 times thinner than a hair. Inside the fibers one can find Skeleton’s proprietary Curved Graphene material that stores electricity and are held together by a polymeric binder. The fibrous structure developed by the researchers is flexible and up to 20 times stronger than the materials used in conventional supercapacitors. Curved Graphene has two important properties for storing electricity: an exceptionally large specific surface area (area per unit mass) and a particularly good energy storage capacity.

The ultracapacitors under development could be used to provide a strong short-term current pulse in rocket engine launchers and controls, cyclic power to satellites when exposed to sunlight, and to open and mechanically move satellite panels.

The working group has managed to turn the idea to laboratory prototype, and hopes to have the first products in the next 3-5 years with the support of ESA.

Tags:  Andres Krumme  Egert Valmra  European Space Agency  Graphene  polymers  Skeleton  supercapacitors  TalTech  University of Tartu 

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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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First Graphene March Quarterly Activities Review

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, May 2, 2020
On the 18 March, the Company advised shareholders that the University of Manchester had closed all its non-essential research laboratories, including the GEIC, from 5:00pm, Tuesday 17th March. Our staff ensured all experiments were shut down safely, chemicals and raw materials were safely stored, and all confidential papers locked away.

Experimental work in the UK is on hold and our staff have provided scientific support to colleagues in Australia and customers globally, while consolidating our foundations in regulatory approval, manufacturing strategy, intellectual property and new market development. The UK team is well prepared to pick up operations and has identified the steps for immediate return to work once restrictions are lifted.

First Graphene’s key priorities on COVID-19 continue to be for the Company to play its role in limiting the spread of the virus, protecting the health and safety of its employees, delivering value for its customers and stakeholders. We are pleased to report that we have no COVID-19 related illnesses within our workforce.

We are also ensuring the Company is implementing appropriate strategies and actions to place First Graphene in the strongest possible financial position in this ever-changing environment.

In addition to its focus on the health and wellbeing of the workforce the Company implemented strategies to ensure it is in the strongest possible financial position. These strategies continue to be focused on liquidity management and include deferment of non- essential capital and cost reductions while maintaining the continuity of its production and research operations.

Entitlement Issue to Strengthen Balance Sheet
Since the close of the March quarter, the Company has announced that it is undertaking a 1 for 10 Entitlement issue to all shareholders, at a subscription price of 13¢. There will be a 1 for 1 free attaching option for each share taken up, being the same options series currently trading on the ASX (FGROC).

The Company has previously raised equity capital via placements to sophisticated investors who qualify under the s708 Corporations Law exceptions. However, while the Company still has a solid cash position, the directors have elected in this instance, to undertake an entitlement issue despite the share price having been adversely affected by the coronavirus concerns. Directors see this as the best way to make shares available at modest prices to all shareholders equally. Meanwhile, ensuring that the Company is well-funded for the continued and exciting growth curve that has only just begun. A growing business needs higher levels of working capital.
Steel Blue Supply Agreement.

It was announced on 21 January, that Steel Blue had signed a two-year supply agreement whereby it would exclusively source PureGRAPH® for the sole in a new line of work safety boots. Steel Blue will also be looking to include PureGRAPH® into the Met-Guard and other areas of the boot in the future.
 
This Supply Agreement followed on from First Graphene being able to successfully incorporate PureGRAPH® into a thermoplastic polyurethane (“TPU”). While existing TPU’s already possess high abrasion resistance and tensile strength, the incorporation of PureGRAPH® has improved mechanical properties whilst providing additional benefits in thermal heat transfer, chemical resistance and reduced permeability. Continued positive results from mining industry field trials.

As advised on 3 February, the newGen-provided Armour-GRAPH™ bucket liner supplied to a major iron ore producer containing PureGRAPH®20 continued being trialled. The bucket liner showed no signs of advanced wear or scalloping as would normally be experienced with the liners currently used in industry after 24 weeks of use. The client has continued the trial, with a further inspection to be undertaken in another 12 weeks from that date.

The same client also installed a second ArmourGRAPH™ bucket liner at the same Pilbara mine site. With this liner performing well we are now seeing ArmourGRAPH™ liners being installed for trials with other newGen iron ore producing clients.

The buckets were inspected in late April and the PureGRAPH® enhanced bucket liners remained in good operational condition. The client intends to push toward their targeted wear life of twelve months. The next inspection will be in July, at which point the liners will be replaced and returned for post operational inspection. This further demonstrates the dramatically increased wear resistance the PureGRAPH® range of products can provide to sacrificial wear applications.

Developing Advanced Graphene Materials for Next Generation Supercapacitors
In September 2019, the Company announced the signing of a worldwide, exclusive licence agreement with the University of Manchester for the manufacture of hybrid- graphene materials by electrochemical processing. Two high value product groups can be synthesised using this approach.

• Firstly, metal oxide decorated materials with high capacitance for super capacitor and electrocatalyst applications; and
• Secondly, pristine graphene products with tightly controlled oxygen levels for applications in electrical and thermal conductivity.

The manufacturing process employed builds on the Company’s existing electrochemical processing expertise which is scaled to 100 tonne per year capacity at FGR’s manufacturing site at Henderson, WA.

The licence agreement was quickly followed in October 2019 by the initiation of a UK government funded EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Council) project to transfer the technology from the University laboratories to First Graphene laboratories.

Since October, the Company has successfully transferred the technology to its laboratories in Manchester, UK and has also completed two successful pilot trials at its manufacturing facility in Henderson, WA. Specifically, the Company was able to demonstrate the following:
• Synthesis of metal oxide decorated hybrid graphenes at litre scale in FGR laboratories;
• Synthesis of pristine (zero-oxygen) graphene materials at litre scale in FGR laboratories;
• Manufacture of metal oxide decorated hybrid graphenes at multi-kilogram scale; and
• Manufacture of pristine (zero-oxygen) graphene materials at multi-kilogram scale.

The structure of the new materials has been confirmed by Raman analysis and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). A typical image of metal oxide decorated graphene is shown in Fig. 1 which shows the nanostructured metal oxides on the surface of an exfoliated graphene platelet.

The FGR team is testing the performance of these materials in energy storage and catalysis applications. Initial testing has shown the prototype supercapacitor devices (coin cell) can be manufactured with these materials. Additional testing is presently delayed due to restricted access to test facilities as a consequence of COVID-19 actions.

In parallel to the experimental programme, the Company has actively sought end- users for novel supercapacitor products. The need for supercapacitors with higher performance from those currently available have been validated by end-users in the aerospace, marine, electric vehicle and utility storage sectors. The Company is also seeking government funding to develop a new supply chain for game changing supercapacitor devices and have received letters of support from several key industry players.

Continued Growth in Customer Engagement
Despite the circumstances resulting from COVID-19, the Company continued to receive well-qualified enquiries in Australia during March. A number of these were from the mining services sector, which continues to be an area of focus for the Company, where PureGRAPH® has proven its ability to improve mechanical performance in a range of polyurethane based products.

The shutdown in Europe has slowed down customer evaluation trials across the region. However, we can report that a major European based multinational placed a 4th order for kilogram development quantities of PureGRAPH® products for inclusion in an early phase commercialisation programme.

Strong Advances in VFD Development Background Summary on Graphene Oxide
Graphene oxide (GO) is the chemically modified derivative of graphene, whereby the basal planes and edges have been functionalised with oxygen containing functional groups such as hydroxyl, epoxy and carboxyl groups. These oxygen functionalities make GO hydrophilic and therefore dispersible, forming homogenous colloidal suspensions in water and most organic solvents. This makes it ideal for use in a range of applications.

To date, the most widely used process for the synthesis of graphene oxide is the Hummer’s method. This typically requires strong acids and oxidants, such as potassium chlorate (KClO3), nitric acid (HNO3), concentrated sulphuric acid (H2SO4) and potassium permanganate (KMnO4). Much work has been done by other parties to improve the synthesis methods while maintaining high surface oxidation, but these continue to rely on the use of strong acids and oxidants.

Through its subsidiary 2D Fluidics Pty Ltd, FGR has made considerable progress in developing a more benign processing route for oxidised graphene. The objective is to provide controlled levels of surface oxygen functionality to give better compatibility in aqueous and organic systems. This will not incur the higher oxygen (and other defect) levels which result from Hummer’s method and its subsequent reduction steps. It will also provide the ability to “tune or optimise” the surface oxidation level to suit respective applications.

FGR’s method synthesises GO directly from bulk graphite using aqueous H2O2 as the green oxidant. Different energy sources have been used for the conversion of H2O2 molecules into more active peroxidic species, such as a combination of a pulsed Nd:YAG laser and/or other light sources. The irradiation promotes the dissociation of H2O2 into hydroxyl radicals which then leads to surface oxidation.

The technology has been successfully transferred to the FGR laboratories at the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester where it has undergone further development and optimisation to identify, understand and resolve future upscaling issues.

XPS analysis showed the use of a pre-treatment step in combination with the near infrared laser gave oxidised graphene sheets with an average surface oxidation of ~30-35%: this will enhance compatibility with aqueous systems.

Further trials have already demonstrated the two-step process is reproducible and versatile, with the ability to process different starting materials of graphite. The multi- disciplinary team has identified the control of the feed rate and energy input will allow us to control the surface oxidation, providing a consistent material that can be tailored as required for a range of applications.

Figure 5 shows that increase in surface oxygen content for two starting materials: graphite ore (top) and PureGRAPH® graphene (bottom). As we go through the two- stage process, in both cases the surface oxygen functionality increases. The end- product has a range of functional groups, including C-O, C=O and COOH.

Launch of Advertising Campaign Directed at Mining Companies
With the success being achieved in mining wear products, the Company is launching an advertising campaign directed at Australia’s mining companies. The campaign will be run on social media platforms and in mining publications. A copy of the proposed advertisement is attached to this Quarterly Activities Review.

Tags:  2D Fluidics Pty Ltd  First Graphene  Graphene  graphene oxide  newGen  Steel Blue  Supercapacitors 

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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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Leading the charge with Game Changing Supercapacitors

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Working closely with the University of Manchester, First Graphene Ltd. has developed high performing materials for the manufacture of Game Changing Supercapacitors.

First Graphene were quick to recognise the potential of the technology for the manufacture of high-performing supercapacitor devices. The company also realised that the materials could be manufactured using their existing graphene manufacturing capabilities and a worldwide, exclusive licence agreement was signed in September 2019.

The need for a Game Changing Supercapacitors has been confirmed by end-users in the aerospace, marine engineering, electric vehicle and utility storage sectors. The company continues to receive regular enquiries from end-users in these sectors.

The materials were first isolated in the research teams of Professor Robert Dryfe and Professor Ian Kinloch at the University of Manchester.

Prof. Robert Dryfe comments "Our research has developed a route to produce state-of-the-art materials, combining the attractive properties of graphene materials and metal oxides. The initial work showed that these materials could have significant applications in energy storage”.

Our global appetite for energy continues to grow at an alarming rate, driven by population growth, increasing urbanisation and improving standards of living.

At the same time, the environmental imperative to reduce the carbon emissions associated with energy consumption is driving changes in the way we make, distribute and use energy. Traditional carbon dioxide (CO2)-generating energy sources are being replaced by cleaner, renewable sources. For these greener energy sources to be effective, a new generation of energy storage and distribution is required.

Chemical batteries such as lithium ion have achieved widespread adoption for energy storage across industry sectors, such as mobile devices and electric vehicles as they offer high power-density, mobility and multiple charges. Even lithium ion batteries have not reached full adoption in high-volume industries where high cost, high weight, range anxiety and long charging times are concerns.

Supercapacitors are being evaluated as an alternative and complementary energy storage device that offer high power-density and short charging times. They are already used in laptops, actuators and some electric vehicles. When combined with lithium-ion batteries the supercapacitor enables higher power charging and discharging and the use of a lighter, lower cost Li-ion battery.

It is clear that industry needs Game Changing Supercapacitor storage devices with high energy density and high-power density. The devices must have rapid and safe charging through multiple cycles.

The new supercapacitor materials were first isolated at the university by Professor Robert Dryfe and Professor Ian Kinloch. By extending their work on the electrochemical manufacture of graphene materials they were able to synthesise graphene materials decorated with metal oxide nanostructures that show great promise for high performing supercapacitor devices, materials with very high capacitance of up to 500 Farads/gram were isolated which outperform existing materials[1].

First Graphene Ltd. is a Tier 1 partner in the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre at the University of Manchester and have an excellent working relationship with the academic groups at the University.

Andy Goodwin, Chief Technology Officer of First Graphene Ltd., remembers “In a presentation by Professor Kinloch our attention was drawn to these high value hybrid-graphene materials and it was clear that the materials could be manufactured by a process that we already operated at tonnage scale. We started licence negotiations immediately.”

Since the licence agreement was concluded the technology has benefitted from UK government support through an EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Council) project to transfer the technology from the University laboratories to First Graphene laboratories. This project has been very successful and has demonstrated that the metal oxide decorated graphenes can be rapidly scaled to multi-kilogrammanufacture. The project will conclude in the next few months when further results will be published.

Professor Robert Dryfe adds “The collaboration with First Graphene has been excellent: both in terms of their know-how on scale-up of production, and their commercial insight".

Tags:  Andy Goodwin  First Graphene Ltd  Graphene  Ian Kinloch  Robert Dryfe  Supercapacitors  University of Manchester 

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Making Progress in Game Changing Supercapacitor Materials

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, March 27, 2020
First Graphene Limited is pleased to provide an update on its programme to develop novel graphene hybrid materials. In September 2019, the Company announced the signing of a worldwide, exclusive licence agreement with the University of Manchester for the manufacture of hybrid-graphene materials by electrochemical processing.

Two high value product groups can be synthesised using this approach. Firstly, metal oxide decorated materials with high capacitance for applications in supercapacitors and catalysis and secondly, pristine graphene products with tightly controlled specifications for applications in electrical and thermal conductivity. The manufacturing process to be employed builds on the Company’s existing electrochemical processing expertise which is scaled to 100 tonne/year capacity at FGR’s manufacturing site at Henderson, WA.

The licence agreement was quickly followed in October 2019; by the initiation of a UK government funded EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Council) project to transfer the technology from the University laboratories to First Graphene laboratories.

Since October, the Company has successfully transferred the technology to its laboratories in Manchester, UK and has also completed two successful pilot trials at its manufacturing facility in Henderson, WA. Specifically, the Company has demonstrated the following
• Synthesis of metal oxide decorated hybrid graphenes at litre scale in FGR laboratories.
• Synthesis of pristine (zero-oxygen) graphene materials at litre scale in FGR laboratories.
• Manufacture of metal oxide decorated hybrid graphenes at multi-kg scale.
• Manufacture of pristine (zero-oxygen) graphene materials at multi-kg scale.

The structure of the new materials has been confirmed by Raman analysis and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). A typical image of metal oxide decorated graphene is shown in Fig. 1 which shows the nanostructured metal oxides on the surface of an exfoliated graphene platelet.

Currently the FGR team, is testing the performance of these materials in energy storage and catalysis applications. Initial testing shows that prototype supercapacitor devices (coin cell) can be manufactured with these materials. Currently, additional testing is delayed due to restricted access to test facilities as a consequence of COVID-19 actions. Further updates will be provided.

In parallel to the experimental programme, the Company has been actively seeking end-users for novel supercapacitor products. The need for supercapacitors with higher performance from those currently available have been validated by end-users in the aerospace, marine, electric vehicle and utility storage sectors. The company is also actively seeking government funding to develop a new supply chain for game changing supercapacitor devices and have received letters of support from key players.

“We are really excited by the potential for these hybrid-graphene materials” said Craig McGuckin, Managing Director of First Graphene Ltd. “we have proven the chemistry does transfer at scale. We are disappointed that testing is being delayed due to current circumstances but will use this time to strengthen our end-user relationships.”

Tags:  Craig McGuckin  Engineering and Physical Sciences Council  First Graphene  Graphene  supercapacitors 

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First Graphene to develop graphene-based energy storage materials for supercapacitors

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, September 24, 2019
First Graphene has signed an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with the University of Manchester to develop graphene-hybrid materials for use in supercapacitors. The licencing agreement is for patented technology for the manufacture of metal oxide decorated graphene materials, using a proprietary electrochemical process.

The graphene-hybrid materials will have the potential to create a new generation of supercapacitors, for use in applications ranging from electric vehicles to elevators and cranes. Supercapacitors offer high power-density energy storage, with the possibility of multiple charge/discharge cycles and short charging times. The market for supercapacitor devices is forecast to grow at 20% per year to approximately USD 2.1 billion by 2022. Growth may, however, be limited by the availability of suitable
materials.

Supercapacitors typically use microporous carbon nanomaterials, which have a gravimetric capacitance between 50 and 150 Farads/g. Research carried out by the University of Manchester shows that high capacitance materials incorporating graphene are capable of reaching up to 500 Farads/g. This will significantly increase the operational performance of supercapacitors in a wide range of applications, as well as increasing the available supply of materials.

Published research1 by Prof. Robert Dryfe and Prof. Ian Kinloch of The University of Manchester reveals how high capacity, microporous materials can be manufactured by the electrochemical processing of graphite raw materials. These use transition metal ions to create metal oxide decorated graphene materials, which have an extremely high gravimetric capacitance, to 500 Farads/g.

Prof. Dryfe has secured funding from the UK EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Council) for further optimisation of metal oxide/graphene materials. Following successful completion of this study, FGR is planning to build a pilot-scale production unit at its laboratories within the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC). It is anticipated that this will be the first step in volume production in the UK, to enable the introduction of these materials to supercapacitor device manufacturers.

Andy Goodwin, Chief Technology Officer of First Graphene Ltd says: “This investment is a direct result of our presence at the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre. It emphasises the importance of effective external relationships with university research partners. The programme is also aligned with the UK government’s industrial strategy grand challenges and we’ll be pursuing further support for the development of our business within the UK.”

James Baker, Chief Executive of Graphene@Manchester, added: “We are really pleased with this further development of our partnership with First Graphene. The University’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre is playing a key role in supporting the acceleration of graphene products and applications through the development of a critical supply chain of material supply and in the development of applications for industry. This latest announcement marks a significant step in our Graphene City developments, which looks to create a unique innovation ecosystem here in the Manchester city-region, the home of graphene.”

Tags:  Andy Goodwin  Energy Storage  First Graphene  Graphene  Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre  Ian Kinloch  James Baker  nanomaterials  Robert Dryfe  supercapacitors  University of Manchester 

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2D Fluidics Pty Ltd created to launch the Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD)

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Friday, June 22, 2018

 

Advanced materials company, First Graphene Limited (“FGR” or “the Company”) (ASX: FGR) is pleased to announce the launch of its 50%-owned associate company, 2D Fluidics Pty Ltd, in collaboration with Flinders University’s newly named Flinders Institute for NanoScale Science and Technology

 

The initial objective of 2D Fluidics will be the commercialisation of the Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD), invented by the Flinders Institute for NanoScale Science and Technology’s Professor Colin Raston. The VFD enables new approaches to producing a wide range of materials such as graphene and sliced carbon nanotubes, with the bonus of not needing to use harsh or toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process (which is required for conventional graphene and shortened carbon nanotube production). 

 

This clean processing breakthrough will also greatly reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of manufacturing these new high quality super-strength carbon materials. The key intellectual property used by 2D Fluidics comprises two patents around the production of carbon nanomaterials, assigned by Flinders University. 

 

2D Fluidics will use the VFD to prepare these materials for commercial sales, which will be used in the plastics industry for applications requiring new composite materials, and by the electronics industry for circuits, supercapacitors and batteries, and for research laboratories around the world.

 

2D Fluidics will also manufacture the VFD, which is expected to become an in-demand state-of-the-art research and teaching tool for thousands of universities worldwide, and should be a strong revenue source for the new company. 

 

Managing Director, Craig McGuckin said “First Graphene is very pleased to be partnering Professor Raston and his team in 2D Fluidics, which promises to open an exciting growth path in the world of advanced materials production. Access to this remarkably versatile invention will complement FGRs position as the leading graphene company at the forefront of the graphene revolution.” 

 

Professor Colin Raston AO FAA, Professor of Clean Technology, Flinders Institute for NanoScale Science and Technology, Flinders University said “The VFD is a game changer for many applications across the sciences, engineering and medicine, and the commercialisation of the device will have a big impact in the research and teaching arena,” Nano-carbon materials can replace metals in many products, as a new paradigm in manufacturing, and the commercial availability of such materials by 2D Fluidics will make a big impact. It also has exciting possibilities in industry for low cost production where the processing is under continuous flow, which addresses scaling up - often a bottleneck issue in translating processes into industry.

Tags:  2D Fluidics  batteries  Carbon Nanotubes  circuits  Composites  electronics  First Graphene  Graphene  Plastics  research laboratories  supercapacitors  Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD) 

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Fraunhofer IPA Maps Out Its Graphene Strategy

Posted By Dexter Johnson, The Graphene Council, Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA uses the tagline: “We manufacture the future”.

Certainly as one of the leading research institutes in the world for the development of automotive technology, Fraunhofer has a global reputation for delivering the latest cutting edge breakthroughs in any technology associated with the automotive industry from energy storage to lightweight engineering.

Based on Fraunhofer’s titanic reputation in R&D, it was a stroke of luck that The Graphene Council was able to meet up with Fraunhofer’s Head of Functional Materials, Ivica Kolaric, at the Economist’s “The Future of Materials Summit” held in Luxembourg in mid-November.

In his role as leader of the functional material group at Fraunhofer, Kolaric has been conducting research on nanoscale carbon materials, like graphene, for almost 20 years. The aim of all this work has consistently been to produce functionalized nanoscale carbon materials to bring them to industrial applications.

Kolaric and his team have been working specifically on graphene since 2008 and have been synthesizing graphene using both chemical vapor deposition (CVD) as well as exfoliation techniques. With these various grades of graphene, the Fraunhofer researchers have experimented with a variety of applications.

“We first started with applications in the field of energy storage and transparent conductive films,” said Kolaric in an interview at the Luxembourg conference.  “As you may remember there was a big discussion a few years back going on if graphene could serve as a replacement for idium tin oxide (ITO).  But we determined that this is maybe not the right application for graphene because when you use it large areas for conductive films it’s competing with commodity products.”

Kolaric also explained that Fraunhofer had collaborated with battery manufacturer Maxell in the development of different types of energy storage devices, specifically supercapacitors. They had some success in increasing the energy density of these devices, which is an energy storage device’s ability to store a charge. With the graphene, the increased surface area of graphene did give a boost to storage capabilities but it just couldn’t deliver enough of an increase in performance over its costs, according to Kolaric.

Now Kolaric says that Fraunhofer is looking at graphene in sensor applications, in particular biosensors. “Graphene is really a perfect substrate for doping, so you can make it sensitive for any kind of biological effects,” said Kolaric. “This could make it a very good biosensor.”

But Kolaric cautions that avenues for purification have to be developed. If this and other issues can be addressed with graphene, there is the promise of a sensor technology that could be very effective at detecting gases, which currently is tricky for automotive sensors that are restricted to detecting pressure and temperature. “I think graphene can play an important role in this,” added Kolaric.

In addition to next generation sensors, Kolaric believes that graphene’s efficiency as a conductor could lead to it being what he terms an “interlink” on the submicron level. Kolaric believes that this will lead to its use in power electronics.

Kolaric added: “I would say sensors and serving as an interlink, so these are the two occasions where we think graphene can be effective.”

Tags:  biosensors  energy storage  Fraunhofer Institute  indium tin oxide  ITO  sensors  supercapacitors 

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NanoXplore Brings Unique Perspective to Graphene Production

Posted By Dexter Johnson, The Graphene Council, Thursday, January 26, 2017

 

After Montreal-based NanoXplore launched in 2011, its initial business was contract research in the field of carbon-based technologies. But its identity as a contract R&D company changed in 2014 when it filed a series of patents focused on graphene production.

As the company further developed its technology since then, the main focus of the company has become providing graphene-enhanced polymers for plastics that have enhanced electrical, thermal and mechanical properties.

The company website suggests that these graphene-based polymers have a variety of applications, ranging from photovoltaics to supercapacitors

We wanted to get to know how a relatively new company that started out as an R&D contractor evolved into a graphene-enhanced polymer manufacturer and how they now see the downstream market for their product. To do that, we took the opportunity of NanoXplore becoming a corporate member of The Graphene Council to talk to the company’s chief operating officer, Paul Higgins, and here is that interview.

Q: NanoXplore started out as an R&D contractor in carbon-based technologies. How is it that the company was able to file a patent in graphene production patent just two years after being formed? Were you always doing research in this area, or did you make a concerted effort to find a place in the graphene market?

Working with other carbon-based materials, especially CNTs, it became evident that many commercialization challenges were due to the production processes. The processes had been developed in research environments and were not designed from the ground up with an industrial mindset. We focused from the beginning on low cost, high-yield processes, using existing capital equipment, and with no pre- and post-processing. For example, our graphene production process functionalizes the graphene in-situ, avoiding costly functionalization post-processing for most applications. We were also very cognizant of the need for sustainable, “green” processes; our patented process is water-based, uses no strong acids, and no organic solvents.

A key insight underpinning our patents is that high energy and strong chemical processes create many downstream problems in graphene production. High-energy processes are inefficient and create defected planar structures, resulting in graphene with poor electrical and thermal benefits, in turn requiring high, non-economic loadings of graphene in nanocomposites.  Strong chemical processes require complicated post-processing and recycling processes to be cost effective and require very tightly controlled production environments, adding costs.

Once we had established the frame of potential solutions based upon the above, developing our new technology platform was relatively straightforward.

Q: Were you looking to enter a particular niche of the graphene supply chain or did the process you came up with dictate somewhat the point in the supply chain that you now occupy?

Our process is high yield, large volume, low cost, and produces graphene powder with very high quality. This allows us to target mass industrial material markets such as polymers, markets requiring large volumes of material. And due to the quality of our graphene, we can provide significant benefit to industrial materials at low loadings and viable price points.

Of course, the graphene must be effectively mixed into the polymer matrix. To do this we have developed production processes for the manufacture of graphene-enhanced plastic masterbatches. These masterbatches, which we have been manufacturing and selling since early 2016, are the perfect form factor for the plastic industry. Plastic formers, such as injection and blow molders, and compounders are very comfortable with masterbatches and easily incorporate them into their existing processes.

Q: Do you see the company evolving to develop products further up the supply chain? For instance, it appears you’re involved in energy storage technologies enabled by graphene. Is this where you see your business moving or do you see this is just diversification of your portfolio?

NanoXplore is focusing our current commercial efforts on graphene-enhanced polymers. We see this as a large market, hungry for innovative materials, where our graphene has a strong competitive advantage.

We also have a patent on a unique graphene-graphite composite material that is useful for energy storage applications. This material was the impetus for our original research in the energy field. This initial research showed great promise and leads us into development of a range of materials for Si-graphene anodes and S-graphene cathodes.

From our current polymer efforts and the emerging energy storage materials, we see a sustainable growth model for the company. Our core research efforts develop graphene-based technologies for a target market, and then transition to product development. During the transition, we will develop technologies for the next target industry. And repeat. Graphene is so broadly applicable that we foresee being able to continue in this vein for some time.

Q: How does your company envision the landscape for the graphene market evolving over the next five years, i.e. are there particular markets that will be winners and losers, what applications are not being sufficiently targeted, etc.?

The graphene market has changed significantly over the last three years. Three years ago the challenge for end users was to obtain decent material, in volume, at a reasonable price. Today there are several producers, including NanoXplore, producing large volumes of good quality graphene. Prices per kg for high quality graphene have fallen during this period from $30,000 kg to $100 Kg and are set to fall to $30 kg over the next five years.

[NB: Above and subsequent comments pertain to high quality - low defect, functionalized few layer graphene and graphene nanoplatelets. Graphene from CVD is excluded as is reduced Graphene Oxide (rGO)].

The current challenge for the graphene industry is to incorporate graphene into real-world products and industrial processes. One of the major hurdles is that graphene is sold into a supply chain, with many players between the graphene producer and the final product. And each of these players has their own calculus of risk versus benefit. To be successful the graphene producer must demonstrate benefits to each player at every step along the supply chain, while meeting standards, helping to modify processes, overcoming regulatory hurdles and minimising supply chain disruptions. The successful companies will expand to cover several steps in the supply chain – for example graphene material, polymer compounds, plastic forming – and develop partnerships with other key supply chain players.

Over the next 3-5 years, one can imagine the commercial introduction of novel graphene enabled subsystems and systems. This category of products will include strong, light weight and highly functional nanocomposites for electric transportation vehicles, greatly improved energy systems (e.g., next generation batteries), high barrier packaging, smart textiles, and others. Solutions for highly regulated industries (e.g., medical, aerospace), some being demonstrated today, will start to exit their testing regimes and enter the marketplace.

Ultimately graphene will be part of building a sustainable future, playing a significant role in the replacement of costly, single function, or scarce materials with abundant, cheaper, and higher-performing ones. It will replace multiple and occasionally toxic additives with a single multi-functional material. It will reduce weight while increasing strength for a wide range of structural polymers and composites often leading to significant fuel savings in vehicles. It will extend the useful lifetime of paints, coatings and lubricants. And it will improve thermal management and energy storage in a wide range of applications, again improving efficiency while husbanding scarce resources.

NanoXplore is very well positioned to help customers participate in this emerging new world. With the combination of high quality graphene material, expertise in mixing graphene with a wide array of industrial materials, and a team of seasoned business leaders and material scientists with broad industrial experience, NanoXplore enables customers to achieve significant and affordable product improvements with very little added graphene.

Tags:  masterbatches  photovoltaics  polymers  supercapacitors 

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