Graphene v Platinum in Lithium Batteries.

'Unzipped' Carbon Nanotubes"Platinum is very expensive and thus impractical for large-scale commercialization," said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford and co-author of the study. "Developing a low-cost alternative has been a major research goal for several decades."

Though it still needs more testing and proving in practice, scientists at Stanford University California,believe that they have found a cheap, relatively easy to work with substitute for the expensive platinum group metals in fuel cells and in metal-air batteries especially lithium based and  zinc based batteries. Below from the publication in Nature Nanotechnology.

'Unzipped' Carbon Nanotubes Could Help Energize Fuel Cells and Batteries
ScienceDaily (May 27, 2012) — Multi-walled carbon nanotubes riddled with defects and impurities on the outside could replace some of the expensive platinum catalysts used in fuel cells and metal-air batteries, according to scientists at Stanford University. Their findings are published in the May 27 online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

 —- Among the most promising, low-cost alternatives to platinum is the carbon nanotube — a rolled-up sheet of pure carbon, called graphene, that's one-atom thick and more than 10,000 times narrower a human hair. Carbon nanotubes and graphene are excellent conductors of electricity and relatively inexpensive to produce.

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For the study, the Stanford team used multi-walled carbon nanotubes consisting of two or three concentric tubes nested together. The scientists showed that shredding the outer wall, while leaving the inner walls intact, enhances catalytic activity in nanotubes, yet does not interfere with their ability to conduct electricity.

"A typical carbon nanotube has few defects," said Yanguang Li, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford and lead author of the study. "But defects are actually important to promote the formation of catalytic sites and to render the nanotube very active for catalytic reactions."

—- Multi-walled nanotubes could also have applications in metal-air batteries made of lithium or zinc.

"Lithium-air batteries are exciting because of their ultra-high theoretical energy density, which is more than 10 times higher than today's best lithium ion technology," Dai said. "But one of the stumbling blocks to development has been the lack of a high-performance, low-cost catalyst. Carbon nanotubes could be an excellent alternative to the platinum, palladium and other precious-metal catalysts now in use."

From this blogs perspective, it’s all about the growing future demand for graphite, the starting point for graphene carbon tube nanotechnology. With each passing week, we get new developments likely to suck up vast quantities of graphite in the decades ahead. At some point ahead some recycling of graphite will occur, but the new global “carbon-electric age,” is going to consume vast quantities of graphite. The “iron ore” of graphene and carbon nano-technology.

Stanford University.   

  1. We’ve all come to know that platinum is the most expensive metal yet also the best. Graphene on the other hand is cheaper (which is good if you’re budget conscious)and also being tested as a good conductor has defects which we don’t want.If we want to produce good quality products that we know would perform better,why substitute?

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