Australia takes the lead in cutting-edge battery technology Metal Tech News – May 5, 2021
Graphene Manufacturing Group Ltd. has entered into a research agreement with scientists at University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, and the university's commercialization company Uniquest, to unlock the potential of graphene aluminum-ion batteries.
Unlike typical lithium-ion, graphene aluminum-ion batteries could potentially have up to three times longer life while also being capable of up to 70 times faster charging, and laboratory testing and experimentation have shown so far that this is possible.
"Aluminum-ion battery with graphene electrodes could transform the existing rechargeable battery market, dominated by lithium-ion," said Uniquest CEO Dean Moss. "Lithium-ion batteries demand the extraction of rare earth materials using large amounts of water and are processed with chemicals that can potentially harm the environment. This project has real potential to provide the market with a more environmentally friendly and efficient alternative."
It is no secret that aluminum is known to be better as a base material for batteries than lithium, as aluminum can exchange three electrons for every ion – compared to one for lithium – enabling up to three times more energy density.
Scientists have long been searching for an alternative to the expensive and limiting lithium battery, yet previous iterations have used graphite as a cathode material, "which has too low an energy content to create battery cells with enough performance to be useful," according to some researchers.
That is until graphene entered the equation. As graphene manufacturing has seen explosive growth in recent years; production facilities able to scale up output, knowledge of its makeup becoming more prevalent, and new and exciting innovations from widespread use, researchers and manufacturers have taken to the miracle material like bees to honey.
GMG, an Australian-based clean-tech disruptive company that produces graphene and hydrogen by cracking methane instead of mining graphite, will now incorporate a technology devised by AIBN that has made graphene into more efficient electrodes for powering batteries.
Graphene as a supplement to even conventional lithium-ion is nothing new either. However, the race has been on for some time for a true breakthrough in a next-generation battery to curb the future lithium demand for e-mobility and green energy technologies.
"The project could deliver far-reaching benefits for energy storage, while the batteries were also safer because they do not use lithium, which had been known to cause fire in some mobile phones," said GMG Head Scientist Ashok Nanjundan. "This project is a great example of academia and business working together. The current recyclability of batteries is highly problematic due to their chemical properties and the stockpiling of dead batteries presents a large and looming environmental and public safety concern."
While many companies are also developing methods to safely extract and recycle lithium-ion battery materials, reclamation technologies are still in their infancy stages with dimensions-of-scale, leading to alternative efforts to bypass human reliance on a lithium-ion future.
"We are delighted to partner with GMG to translate scientific ideas into commercial solutions through the development of more efficient and greener batteries," said AIBN Director Alan Rowan. "After several years of dedicated research into improving the aluminum-ion battery, we are excited to be at the phase of developing commercial prototypes for more sustainable, faster-charging batteries."
With GMG's unique and proprietary method of producing graphene, the goal of developing a battery that relies on graphene and aluminum alone – with no lithium or copper – is an exciting prospect.
Only time will tell but according to GMG Founder and CEO, Craig Nicol, "It is the technology the industry has been waiting for."