In recent times both science and the general public have become aware of the many uses of graphene and the many different properties it possesses. It has indeed been labelled a wonder substance, not only is it very conductive of both thermal and electrical energy it is also extraordinarily pliable and even unusually light and flexible. The most attractive feature of this material is that it is sustainable and green in its consumption.
When graphene’s exceptional properties are wedded to batteries’ chemical properties, both the batteries’ consumption and lifespan are significantly increased. Graphene’s properties are such that it is not only capable of holding large charges, but these charges prove to be long-lasting and without the knock-on effect of lengthening charging duration. Using graphene dramatically decreases the amount of carbon needed in a battery and has the bonus of extending the cell’s life duration.
These impressive properties are considered vital in the mass production of large electric batteries. Batteries that will be used to run the fast-approaching fleet of electric cars. Although still in its infancy, the mass production of Graphene batteries will significantly enhance how far and how green these vehicles are.
By introducing this material to lithium-ion batteries and other types of rechargeable cells, the improvement in battery performance is quite dramatic. This improvement is achieved by the addition of graphene to the anodes of the cell.
Basic Battery composition
A battery is a form of portable stored energy by which means an electric device can be used without the need to attach the device to the electricity grid. There are many different forms of cells out there, but they all have an anode (+) and a cathode (-) which in basic terms allow the flow of electrical ions. Also present is a separator, which stops the battery short-circuiting and finally a collector, which introduces the current to the device it is powering.
A series of chemical reactions between the anode and cathode then combine to create the necessary charge to power the cell. These electrodes will continue to generate electricity until the source of energy in the battery is exhausted.
There are two types of batteries, primary and secondary; the main difference is their reusability. Primary cells are used until all the charge has been used up in them at which point, they are redundant, alkali batteries are an excellent example of this type. Li-ion batteries are an example of the secondary type used in these electrodes. They can recharge the necessary power property, hence leading to multiple uses.
Many different lead materials are used in differing types of cell, due to the properties they possess. For example, drills and electrically powered tools usually use nickel/cadmium cells to disperse energy over a more extended period of usage. Lead/acid cells are used in equipment that draws down a lot of power, such as generator equipment used in hospitals. These batteries are not considered very green, due to the substantial subsidiary processing costs associated with each battery. Laptops are usually powered by lithium/ion cells, which are relatively light and high-energy users of power.
Graphene game-changing battery technology
Graphene powered batteries can draw on the best properties of both batteries and supercapacitors. When batteries can store massive amounts of energy, they are comparatively slow to release the energy as a rule. On the other hand, capacitors hold much lower energy levels but can be charged up in a much shorter time. Introducing graphene into the cells the amount of energy storage possible and the higher charge/discharge rates achievable are significant. However, they are still a viable option from a cost point of view. Combining the best properties of both the battery and the supercapacitor the graphene cell achieves a near-perfect form of portable electrical charge.
Powering the race to develop more efficient cars
Graphene research and development are still in the very early stages. The potential of this exciting new material has not yet begun to be realised. What is certain is that companies are investing heavily in the development of batteries using this graphene technology. The race to develop more efficient electric cars, run further without needing a charge and are still environmentally friendly has seen all the major players in this sector, Tesla, Huawei and many more embracing this newfound tech.
Graphene has been hailed as a wonder substance in many fields, and so it may well prove in the field of portable power. It can be hoped that this amazing substance may well be a vital ingredient in the quick-charging, long-lasting, high-powered battery of the, hopefully near, future.