A tipping point has arrived where the vast majority of automotive brands are focused on betting on electric mobility as part of a new era where we are all part of the change.
This has probably been accelerated partly because of Europe's stringent emissions targets and its commitment to achieve climate neutrality in greenhouse gases by 2050.
Whatever the reason, the reality is that day by day we keep hearing new news about the electric car industry. And although the efficiency of electric motors has always been very high (around 95% compared to 30-35% for combustion engines), the electric mobility sector still has a long way to go.
So much so that brands are not only hurrying up to bring new electric models to market, but are also in the process of researching new technologies with greater efficiency and lower environmental impact compared to current lithium-ion batteries (used not only in electric vehicles but in all kinds of electronic devices), such as solid-state batteries and organic graphene batteries.
So, what is a graphene-based organic battery?
Graphene is characterised by the fact that it is a thin, transparent and very flexible substance composed of pure carbon, with atoms similar to graphite (one of the forms in which carbon can be found in nature).
It provides 200 times more strength than steel and is widely available on the planet. Despite being made of the same material as the graphite in pencils, it is considered a two-dimensional material and a superconductor of electricity (even better than copper).
Another great advantage of graphene is that it has almost no internal resistance, which in fact is the case with most materials currently used to conduct electricity. To counteract this effect, larger volumes of such materials must be used today (such as thicker copper wires to facilitate a higher amperage of electricity), and heat sinks must be used to prevent overheating, as the resistance produces heat and high temperatures.
Well, graphene could also be the solution to this problem, since, having practically no internal resistance, it avoids the use of heatsinks without reaching high temperatures or generating any danger.
Which benefits will graphene-based organic battery bring?
Andreas Hintennach, head of battery cell research at Daimler Group, says these batteries rely on "an organic chemistry based on graphene, without foreign, expensive or rare elements, without metals, fully recyclable. They have a high energy density and offer great fast-charging possibilities”.
Thus, we are talking about batteries that will provide multiple advantages over current lithium-ion batteries, such as:
Smaller size, higher energy density and greater autonomy
Graphene itself is a single atom-thick layer of carbon, and because it is such a thin and light substance, it allows the size of its batteries to be much smaller.
They can take up 20-50% less space than current batteries, which means that the smaller they are, the lighter they are. In turn, this translates into greater autonomy, as they offer higher performance with three times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries.
This means that they waste minimal energy during operation and translates into ranges equivalent to today's combustion engines: from 372 to 600 miles of range on a single charge.
Due to the fact that their production does not depend on expensive and naturally scarce raw materials such as lithium, cobalt and copper, graphene-based organic battery will have much lower production costs than current lithium-ion batteries.
The great thing about these types of batteries is that their charging cycles are shorter. In fact, it is estimated that a charging cycle can be up to 100 times faster, allowing shorter charging times of between 8 and 15 minutes.
And that's not all! This technology would have the great advantage of offering induction charging, meaning no need for wires!
One of the other advantages of graphene batteries is their optimal temperature management. Thanks to the fact that graphene has virtually no internal resistance, it avoids the high temperatures that current lithium-ion batteries can reach.
However, it is worth remembering that the fire risk is four times higher in a petrol or diesel car than in an electric one. Graphene technology would therefore further increase the safety provided to electric car drivers.
Longer electric car lifespan
As we already know, current lithium-ion batteries have a limited lifespan of around 8 to 10 years, which equates to around 3,000 full charging cycles.
Organic graphene batteries promise to far exceed this lifespan, as it is estimated that they could deliver twice as many charge cycles.
In fact, it is estimated that after 300,000km of driving in a car with a graphene-based organic battery, the battery would only lose 20-30km of range.
Organic and sustainable composition
Thanks to graphene, which is 100% recyclable through composting, these batteries would not emit a single gram of CO2 into the atmosphere and their manufacturing processes would be completely carbon neutral.
In addition, graphene-based organic battery could mark an important milestone in the standardisation of both manufacturing and recycling.
When will electric cars with organic graphene batteries hit the market?
This all sounds great, doesn't it...? But do we talk about a myth or a revolutionary technology for truly scalable electric mobility?
Well, like any other technology, before it enters the final stage of mass production, it requires research, development and implementation phases, which can take months and months or even years of work. But cuando when brands like Mercedes present a concept sedan based on graphene batteries, something is brewing!
The German brand presented the bold Vision AVTR (Advanced Vehicle Transformation) concept car at the CES 2020 technology fair in Las Vegas. Apart from being a futuristic sedan inspired by the Pandora world from the Avatar film, it is capable of achieving a magical interaction between man, vehicle and nature.
But its true potential lies within its graphene-based organic battery, which avoids the use of rare metals and environmentally toxic materials.
Its advantages? Many:
- Capacity of around 110 kWh. An electric range of more than 700 km
- Full induction charging in less than 15 minutes
- Four high-performance and near-wheel-built electric motor with a combined engine power of 350 kW (475 hp)
- Zero impact on the environment from design to completion of all its elements and throughout the production process
It is still a concept car, but it nevertheless hints at overwhelming and incredibly possible and scalable possibilities for electric mobility.
However, Andreas Hintennach, battery researcher at the German firm, stated that "it is a promising technology that already works in the lab, but its practical application is not envisaged before 20 years". Therefore, the horizon marks 2039 as a possible date for graphene-based organic battery to land on the market.
Which companies are in the process of researching and developing organic graphene batteries?
Although the electric car itself does not pollute during its lifetime, the current manufacturing processes for its batteries are not exactly the most environmentally friendly (mainly due to the extraction and treatment of lithium and cobalt).
Thus, the real ecological challenge of the electric vehicle is that, from the beginning of its manufacture to the end of its useful life - including all its component elements - it should be totally zero-emission and 100% sustainable.
This has given rise to alternative technologies such as hydrogen, solid-state batteries, graphene-enhanced lithium-ion batteries and the 100% graphene-based organic batteries that are the subject of this article.
What is clear is that there will not be just one post-lithium-ion technology, but let's look at what products companies are developing in relation to graphene-based organic battery:
The Chinese group has presented, at GAC Tech Day 2020, a 3D technology they have been working on since 2014 and through which they have created their first graphene battery, capable of recovering 300 km in just eight minutes.
Skeleton Technologies - a specialist in energy storage systems located in Estonia - in collaboration with the Karlsrune Institute of Technology in Germany, have patented a graphene-based organic battery capable of:
• Fully recharge in as little as 15 seconds
• Offer a lifetime of thousands and thousands of charging cycles
The SuperBattery is made of Curved Graphene Carbon Technology (supported by EIT InnoEnergy) which allows high power to be applied to supercapacitors, as well as giving them a very long lifetime. Such supercapacitors are already an ideal complement to enhance the capabilities of existing lithium-ion batteries.
The SuperBattery would be applicable to hybrid and electric cars as well as hydrogen fuel cell cars.
Samsung announced in 2017 that it was in the research stages of developing graphene-based organic battery to make existing lithium-ion batteries last longer and charge faster.
Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) successfully declared the development of "graphene balls" that would increase both the capacity of its current batteries by 45% and the charging speed by five times.
Let's see when they bring their first graphene-based smartphone to market!
Graphenano is a Spanish company from Yecla (Murcia) that claims to be a world leader in the manufacture of graphene. Together with its Chinese partner "Chint", in 2016 it presented graphene polymer batteries that would allow a range of 800 km and charging in just 5 minutes, as well as taking up 20-30% less space than current lithium-ion batteries.
However, the history of this company is somewhat controversial, as in the same year a company partner of Graphenano filed a lawsuit accusing the defendants of fraud, who allegedly caused a damage of about 18 million euros to those affected. They are also being pursued by dark stories about misleading certificates, but the company itself wanted to make an official statement to deny the false accusations.
🚙🔌 And how can Place to Plug help to boost electric mobility?
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