Graphene Supercapacitors — the energy-dense replacements for batteries are close to commercial reality
If there’s a bottleneck with current technology, it’s batteries. Batteries are terrible. Compared to many other methods of storing energy, especially fossil fuels, batteries aren’t very energy dense — that is, a one-pound battery stores far less energy than is contained in a pound of gasoline. Increasingly, with our frantic-paced ‘mobile’ lifestyle that demands we have an electronic device (or two) by our sides at all times, current batteries are not meeting our needs. Consumers are not satisfied with the current inefficiencies in the devices we all use everyday. Additionally, these inefficiencies are holding back applications for use in, for example, electric vehicles. Batteries run out of energy, they die (eventually cannot hold a charge), they overheat, they take a long time to charge, and are environmentally disastrous.
The entire energy industry is aiming for faster charging rates for batteries, greater safety, more capacity and longer energy storage times. These added benefits would lead to more efficient and more cost effective devices and products. Enter graphene. More specifically, graphene supercapacitors. A supercapacitor is different from a battery. A battery uses a chemical reaction to produce a stream of electrons. In short, it’s a lot of work for not a lot of payoff. The capacitor, on the other hand, cuts out that chemical middleman completely and simply holds onto to the electrons until they are needed. And the supercapacitor does that even more so. With their almost indefinite lifespan and ability to recharge in seconds, supercapacitors have tremendous energy-storage potential for everything from portable electronics, to electric vehicles and even large-scale renewable energy plants. But the drawback of existing supercapacitors has been their low energy density of around 5 to 8 Wh/liter, which means they either have to be exceedingly large or recharged frequently. Currently, graphene-based supercapacitors are being developed with an energy density of 60 Wh/liter, which is approximately 12 times higher than that of commercially available supercapacitors and in the same league as lead-acid batteries. This technology is almost at the stage of moving from the laboratory to commercial development, meaning graphene-based supercapacitors are one step closer to commercial reality.
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So how will this change our lives? In every possible way imaginable. If science and industry can get graphene-based technologies (like graphene supsercapacitors) to market, you could see a complete change in the very idea of electricity storage (portable energy storage). But affordability of graphene is key in its commercialization. One company on the cutting edge of graphene and graphene-based portable storage applications is Grafoid Inc. On the forefront of the ‘graphene revolution,’ Grafoid invests and manages investments in high-growth, scalable graphene patents and material applications. Grafoid Co-founder and Chief Scientist Dr. Gordon Chiu has been working, literally, around the clock developing a global standard for economically scalable, affordable graphene. Grafoid has developed a proprietary process to extract graphene directly from graphite ore without going through harsh extraction processes that damage the unique characteristics of graphene.
By developing global graphene standards, Grafoid is working to make graphene affordable — in all sectors, in all applications. Grafoid invested its scientific expertise and financial support that led to the co-development of a unique process for transforming graphite ore to graphene. This unique process has led to the bulk production of MesoGraf™, a suite of economically scalable graphene products that can be tailored to both industrial and commercial applications. Independent testing confirms MesoGraf’s performance is peerless in terms of its high-energy density and unique physical characteristics. It is a product that sets a global standard for stable, reliable, economically scalable and reproducible graphene and graphene production. The mine-to-MesoGraf platform of Focus Graphite, Grafoid, Graphite Zero and National University of Singapore is the strategic key that unlocks the investment door to the next global economic and industrial revolution. The Grafoid platform aims to offer the most direct, clearest, fastest, affordable way towards graphene’s commercialization on a global scale.
Cellphone batteries would not only increase in capacity, but they would also charge in mere seconds. Instead of going to a gas station, you would pull up your electric car into a power station (in the coming years, you’ll be offered your choice of electric charge, diesel fuel and antiquated conventional gasoline) and charge the entire car in less time than it takes presently to gas up a Cadillac Escalade. What about your tablet computer? Of course, it would charge easily and quickly, but as a further bonus, graphene is translucent and flexible. So you could, theoretically, roll or fold your tablet up and put it in your back pocket.
Imagine a smart phone or tablet that holds a charge for a month or more, or an electric car that has a battery the size of your fist – and can recharge in mere minutes. With the development of graphene, it may not be that far off. Alternative energy may also see a huge benefit from the new technology. Among the challenges in using alternative energy technologies are the abilities to store and transport the energy. Take solar energy, for example, even though more energy from the sun hits Earth in one hour than all the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year, we cannot effectively store the energy the sun sends us. Batteries must be able to store a large amount of energy, and conduits typically lose a large amount of energy as it is transported along power lines. With graphene, we could print solar panels that effectively and efficiently store (and can hold) the electrons. Imagine being able to capture solar power in Indiana and using it to heat a home in New York City, all for just a few pennies. Graphene technology is a step on the path to the realization of that vision.
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