Graphene Batteries – An Insiders Guide. Graphene Batteries are widely considered a “graphene’s killer app”. Killer apps drive commercial success and are critical for moving emerging technologies out of the lab and into large scale industrial applications. Savvy nanotech innovators and early adopters have adopted a collective mindset of “talk is cheap, now prove it works”. Are batteries Graphene’s killer app? Our Graphene Battery User’s Guide will detail traditional battery designs, emerging battery technologies, provide actionable steps that you can take to develop a graphene battery of your own, and detail what needs to happen to get advanced graphene batteries into consumer markets.
We ♥ Graphene Batteries
Humans love batteries – yes it sounds strange but batteries power our phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, fitbits, autos, toys, pacemakers, and clocks. Even the biggest companies with large market shares know they must be constantly advancing their battery’s performance. Consumers want longer lasting batteries with faster charging times and we don’t want to wait.
As Samuel Gibbs astutely points out “The iPhone 7 is a missed opportunity. Apart from a bit of fluff retention the fit and finish, the cameras, fingerprint scanner, snappy performance and waterproofing are all great. But what does it matter how good it is when the battery is dead?” Ouch! While I’m fairly sure that Steve Jobs is still resting comfortably, Samuel is spot on in his assessment.
The Graphene Revolution Began With A Single Idea
Did Apple engineers simply take a pass when it came to designing the battery and matching it to the device’s needs? I doubt it considering the risk to brand loyalty when selling devices between $650-$850 USD. A much loved company like Apple spends unfathomable sums of money designing & testing new products prior to launching them. Apple is aware that when they launch a new iphone, thousands of people line up to buy them as soon as they are released, much like when we used to sleep outside on the sidewalk while waiting for the ticket window to open for our favorite rock concerts.
So what gives? Apple likely made a survey of commercially viable battery technologies and realized that a graphene battery wasn’t ready for prime time for this generation iphone. Being an early adopter only works to your benefit if it doesn’t create product nightmares. Imagine millions of phones with defective batteries. The cost alone would be staggering and the cost to brand loyalty devastating. Apple sure doesn’t want a Samsung like battery recall on its hands.
Graphene Battery Technology
A battery is a source of electrical energy, which is provided by one or more electrochemical cells of the battery after conversion of stored chemical energy. In today’s life, batteries play an important part as many personal, household and industrial devices use batteries as their power source. In its most basic form, a battery is a cell consisting of an anode, a cathode, with an electrolytic material in between.
There are 6 basic types of batteries.
- Alkaline Batteries -Alkaline batteries are non-rechargeable, high energy density, batteries that have a long life span. This battery obtained its name because the electrolyte used in it is alkaline (potassium hydroxide). The chemical composition features zinc powder as an anode and manganese dioxide as the cathode with potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte.
- Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)- mature and well understood but relatively low in energy density. The NiCd is used where long life, high discharge rate and economical price are important. Main applications are two-way radios, biomedical equipment, professional video cameras and power tools. The NiCd contains toxic metals and is environmentally unfriendly.
- Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) – has a higher energy density compared to the NiCd at the expense of reduced cycle life. NiMH contains no toxic metals. Applications include mobile phones and laptop computers.
- Lead Acid — most economical for larger power applications where weight is of little concern. The lead acid battery is the preferred choice for hospital equipment, wheelchairs, emergency lighting and UPS systems.
- Lithium Ion (Li‑ion) — fastest growing battery system. Li‑ion is used where high-energy density and lightweight is of prime importance. The technology is fragile and a protection circuit is required to assure safety. Applications include notebook computers and cellular phones.
- Lithium Ion Polymer (Li‑ion polymer) — offers the attributes of the Li-ion in ultra-slim geometry and simplified packaging. Main applications are mobile phones.
Why won’t Li Ion Batteries just die?
Li Ion batteries already have market acceptance. Companies have invested heavily production lines. Li Ion battery’s improve performance a respectable 6-8% per year. Earlier this year, an MIT start up announced they’ve doubled the life of a Li Ion battery. Competing graphene alternatives, while promising are still likely years away from commercial acceptance.
What’s the holdup?
As we’ve recently had Samsung’s great example of an epic product battery fail, no one wants to responsible for that within their own organization, to let down their customers, and to have negative brand loyalty. Successful nano engineering takes repeated trials to make small steps in the right direction. It’s not as easy as “throw some graphene in it and sell it”. For an in depth review, check out our Graphene Battery User’s Guide to come up to date on research trends as well as to learn actionable steps that you can take to develop your own graphene battery with the four designs of experiments included in the guide.