Almost all current portable electronic devices, whether our smartphones or electric vehicles, come with widely used lithium-ion batteries. They have a limited load, are quite bulky, need to be charged frequently and have a modest lifespan. That is why researchers have been working hard to introduce the most discussed alternative to lithium-ion batteries, that is, graphene battery.
Graphene batteries are said to be the absolute alternative to our current generation lithium-ion batteries. Graphene batteries are quite light, advanced and powerful. It has been discovered that graphene is a superior material, since it not only has greater electrical and thermal conductivity, but is also quite light, flexible and durable. Therefore, graphene batteries have been in development for many years and are expected to generalize in the coming years.
So, if you're curious about graphene, graphene batteries and how they differ from your standard lithium-ion batteries, then you've landed in the right place. Here is everything you need to know about graphene batteries:
Note: This article involves the use of a large amount of scientific and chemical terminology, but we have tried to simplify it as much as possible for its understanding.
What is graphene? What are its benefits?
Instead of immersing yourself directly in the world of graphene batteries, let me tell you first about graphene itself. I bet most of us learned in school that carbon exists in many different forms on Earth, from graphite to diamond. Well, that happens due to the varied arrangement of carbon atoms in different materials. The same is true for Graphene.
Graphene is a two-dimensional (2D) structure, where atoms are arranged flat to form hexagonal carbon rings like a honeycomb. The structure is only one atom high and is one of the most interesting discoveries of recent times, thanks to its properties. Although graphene is extremely thin, light and almost transparent this material has become known as stronger than diamond and steel. He is super strong and is also a great conductor of electricity.
The flat hexagonal structure facilitates the flow of electricity with little resistance, offering better electrical and thermal conductivity better than the most conductive metallic copper. It does not require special conditions for the same, since Graphene offers a remarkable conductivity at room temperature, which makes it one of the perfect materials for the creation of next-generation batteries.
Graphene batteries: how are they different from lithium-ion batteries?
The internal structure of a graphene battery is quite similar to that of a standard lithium-ion battery . It has 2 electrodes and an electrolyte solution to allow charge flow, but here there is a notable difference. One of the electrodes in graphene-based batteries, primarily the cathode, is replaced with a hybrid composite (solid state metal + graphene) used instead of a standard solid state metal.
While graphene batteries would prove to be much better than lithium-ion batteries, researchers are now trying to improve the performance of existing graphene batteries. They could take advantage of the conductivity of this material and the larger surface area in the anode to optimize lithium-ion batteries.
It is also known that researchers are working on hybrid materials such as vanadium oxide (VO2) and graphene, which could also be useful for improving battery optimization, fast charging and battery discharge.
Benefits of using a graphene battery
The graphene battery is a new technology, but it does not mean that they have not been tested. Manufacturers have spent a lot of time researching graphene batteries and why they wouldn't, especially when it is superior to the lithium-ion batteries we use at the moment. So, let's take a quick look at the benefits of using a graphene battery:
- Smaller and thinner battery: We have already discussed how graphene is light. When you stack 3 million layers of graphene is when you get 1 mm thick. I mean, that should be enough to tell you that graphene batteries aren't going to take up much space on your future smartphone. It will allow manufacturers to place larger capacity batteries in their phones, tablets, laptops and more.
- Higher capacity: Graphene has a higher energy density compared to lithium-ion batteries. When it is known that the latter stores up to 180 Wh per kilogram, graphene is capable of storing up to 1,000 Wh per kilogram. Therefore, you can have a larger capacity graphene battery of the same size as the lithium-ion battery.
- Faster charging times: Graphene is a powerful conductor of electrical energy as the honeycomb structure offers no resistance to electron flow. Therefore, it can be charged quickly, while providing longer battery life compared to lithium-ion batteries.
- Thermal management: Yes, you may not have guessed it, but graphene also facilitates better heat dissipation. It can reduce the battery's operating temperature up to 5 degrees, so your phone will not heat up while charging or playing.
- Increased safety : Graphene batteries are expected to be much safer than lithium-ion batteries since the material is more flexible and strong. This means that future battery packs will not need a ton of protective covers, will take up less space and will be lightweight.
To sum it all up, a graphene battery will make a better choice over a lithium-ion battery in the future. years. It will be noticeably cheaper, smaller, lighter and will offer more electrical storage and faster charging speeds.
Graphene battery deficiencies
Graphene batteries have a number of benefits, but the only drawback of their mass adoption in our devices is mass production and the costs involved in the same.
Why is it difficult to produce graphene batteries in series? Well, it is due to the lack of a feasible technique for mass production of high quality graphene. Certainly, you could produce graphene at home using graphite and duct tape, but that doesn't work for mass production of batteries. The lack of the same also increases the cost of production, since it will be necessary to take into account the quality of the materials, which could be up to tens to thousands of dollars.
Currently, a handful of manufacturers are developing graphene batteries in small quantities. But, others like Samsung are looking for ways to reduce the cost so that next-generation batteries are viable for use. It is said that the Korean giant discovered affordable means to produce graphene batteries and we can expect an update very soon.
Marketing of graphene batteries
Graphene batteries have extraordinary potential and produce better results than existing battery packs, something that should have already been quite clear to you. Research in this field has been quite rampant in the last two decades, but we will still have to be patient for marketing.
Many companies are currently testing graphene batteries or trying to improve lithium batteries with graphene to improve their performance. , but they are not fully commercially available at this time.
Samsung Graphene Research
Samsung SDI, the Korean giant's battery manufacturing arm, is actively working in this field and has seen multiple advances in recent years. First, we learned that Samsung developed 'graphene balls' that could make lithium-ion batteries last longer (while offering 45% increased capacity) and charge 5 times faster .
Since then, Samsung has kept silent about its graphene battery plans, except for a handful of appearances in car and electronic exhibitions. However, there have been rumors that a new smartphone with graphene battery is in process at Samsung and could be introduced in 2020 or 2021. It is said that these batteries are fully charged in half an hour, they remain operational at temperatures higher than 60 degrees, but we are not aware of its capacity and composition at this time.
Additional research and OEM
In addition to Samsung, there are several battery manufacturers, such as CellsX that are already manufacturing and shipping graphene batteries to their partners. They have designed not only smaller battery packs for power banks (more on this below), but also manufactured larger batteries for quadcopters and EV models. Huawei also introduced in 2016 an improved lithium ion with graphene to offer longer uptime and facilitate heat dissipation.
While graphene batteries have not yet appeared on our phones, you can still charge them with a power bank charged with graphene batteries. Yes, we have some graphene battery power banks available in the market. Called Apollo and Ultron, these energy banks sought crowdfunding, obtained the number of sponsors they needed and are already sending these products. You can read all about these power banks here.
On the other hand, the renowned manufacturer of electric cars Tesla and Log9 of India are showing interest in metal-air batteries . They involve the use of a graphene rod as a cathode, since it is porous and lets air through. Metal-air batteries can help increase battery efficiency up to 5 times at a third of the cost, which sounds great.
SEE ALSO: The best graphene power banks you can buy
Graphene batteries could change the rules of the game
Graphene batteries are definitely the next big thing because carbon is abundant compared to lithium, which is a rare metal. Manufacturers have been trying to use graphene material in almost everything since its discovery in 2004. Therefore, we can expect several graphene-charged products, especially graphene batteries, to materialize in the next two years. They will still be restricted to selected smartphones, but at least soon we will have a functional prototype in our hands. What are your expectations of graphene batteries? Are you excited for even bigger batteries? Let us know in the comments below.