If graphene batteries do everything scientists say, they could change the world

We’ve been hearing about the benefits of graphene for years now. Especially intriguing is the promise held for batteries.

Apple batteryDan Robitzski for Futurism:

“Graphene is an amazing material, and it’s particularly amazing as a material for batteries,” Chip Breitenkamp, a polymer scientist and VP of business development at the graphene battery company NanoGraf, told Futurism. The tech, he said, can “make batteries charge faster and dissipate heat more effectively. This has big implications. It means power tools don’t overheat as quickly. It means home appliances serve families better, longer. And it eventually means [electric cars] can charge faster.”

The rapid charging isn’t the only selling point. In the lab, NanoGraf says its graphene batteries show a 50 percent increase in run time compared to conventional lithium-ion ones, a 25 percent drop in carbon footprint, and half of weight needed to provide the same output…

Nanograf isn’t the only startup that says it’s homing in on a practical graphene battery. Samuel Gong, the CEO of competitor Real Graphene, told Futurism that he believes his company’s tech could charge a car in well under an hour…

Long story short, [Christos Athanasiou, an engineer at Brown University who’s published research on graphene batteries] said, scientists can make really good prototypes in the lab — but moving into the mass production of finished products is an entirely separate challenge. “What I can tell you is that the science is there,” Athanasiou said. “However, technology-wise, it’s not ready yet. We know how to make these nanocomposite silicon graphenes, but how we can make them reproducible — that’s a big challenge.”

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote in 2015:

Every battery story starts out so promising and then ends in exactly the same way: Wah-wah.

Hopefully, further studies proven valuable and the technology can progress as quickly as possible out of the lab and into real-life use. Batteries are the killer bottleneck of mobile technology.

9 Comments

  1. The graphene revolution is like the cold fusion revolution, always 10-20 years away. Though I read recently that some of the problems with large-scale graphene production have been worked out, so I’m sure commercial battery production will happen any time now, no more than 10-20 years.

  2. Apple would not have to worry about battery discharge if its batteries were nearly self-charging such as by harnessing the body’s natural heat but it has to be done by not damaging the body’s cells. Lithium mining is not environmentally safe and it could be a cause of war.

  3. Amazing battery technology probably mysteriously loses funding, or gets suppressed, or gets bought by some rich multinational company and then suppressed. I’ve heard many stories along those lines over the years.

    1. I believe that. You know why? Because all governments regard themselves as monopolies to all knowledge, only releasing it when it benefits itself and its benefactors which usually means rich folks who support legislators economically.

    2. Or it simply could be that the vast majority of technologies don’t live up to the initial hype.

      Think of “cold fusion” back in the late 80s. A couple of chemists thought they saw power spikes and make a very big deal about it.”Unlimited power for everyone, and everyone having cold fusion reactors in their own home.”, they claimed. They convinced organizations to put in over $60 million (over $130 million in 2020 dollars) into researching it after their initial, hyper inflated announcements. Then, when additional, independent researchers (typically physicists, not chemists) discovered that the chemists were just seeing anomalous power spikes but that the overall energy output was negative the whole thing faded to nothing.

      There are countless stories like the “cold fusion” one. Nothing mysterious about it. No conspiracy theory is necessary.

      And, when things do come to fruition, they often take a long, long time. I remember when the first papers on Li-ion were coming out — over 30 years ago. It took over 10 years before people were making usable batteries the were not custom built (I investigated using Li-ion batteries for satellites back in the late 90s and even custom built ones did not have the longevity needed.). It took another 10 years before L-ion batteries becamerobust enough and very common.

      We should expect that if graphene batteries pan out they will be common by 2030. I’d be very pleasantly surprised if we see them in Apple devices by 2025.

      1. Unfortunately, the tendency has been to hype low TRL proof-of-principle science in an effort to get funding for their next technological maturation step…and this isn’t just battery tech.

        As the article pointed out:

        “…scientists can make really good prototypes in the lab — but moving into the mass production of finished products is an entirely separate challenge.”

        Which is the same as what I’ve commented on MDN a good 3-5 years ago: the challenge has been to work through the necessary Engineering to be able to implement the Science in the real world of manufacturing and real products.

        The engineering challenge isn’t trivial to go from the Lab’s flawless “1mm x 1mm” sample of material to an equally flawless “1m x 50m” roll for mass production.

    3. With the money to be made by radically improved battery technology, it would simply be impossible to keep it bottled up for long. More likely companies would kill to obtain it rather than squire it away.

  4. Recharging a vehicle battery rapidly poses challenges to electricity supply infrastructure. If you were to recharge a 100kWh battery in one hour, it would need 100kW, which is quite a significant amount of power. A bank of ten chargers would use a megawatt.

    If the technology is developed to recharge a battery in something like six minutes, each vehicle would need one megaWatt while it is charging.

    There might be ways to address these problems, especially with energy storage technology to even out the demand, but it will take more than a new battery technology for fast charging to be a widespread practicality.

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