Graphene Batteries: A Marvel of Technology in the 21st Century

3D-printed graphene batteries and supercapacitors are set to make breakthroughs and power future generations of IoT devices—including vehicles.
By Bhawna Rath
Sep 28, 2016

A wide array of characteristics has enabled the use of graphene batteries in many applications in varying fields, including energy, automobiles, chemistry and others. Rapid charging capacity, efficacy at high temperatures and a high number of charge cycles are among the benefits that such batteries offer. Factors responsible for the rising demand across the globe include increased sales of electric vehicles and portable electronics, as well as research and development (R&D) activities aimed at growing the capacity of energy storage.

The automotive industry is also eyeing graphene battery technologies for their potential to power electric vehicles. R&D activities in this sector are focused on improving storage capacity, reducing costs and making graphene batteries defect-free. Though the industry is small in size in the global market, it is experiencing rapid growth. In its recent report about the graphene battery market, Allied Market Research predicts that the market will garner revenues of $115 million by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 38.4 percent from 2016 to 2022. Recent trends that are shaping the industry include the following:

Tesla May Include Graphene in Its Batteries
Automakers are experimenting with the inclusion of graphene batteries in their vehicles, as this has a reputation of increasing capacity and improving overall efficiency. Tesla, a leading electric vehicle manufacturer, may include graphene in its batteries in the future. Tesla currently uses lithium-ion batteries in its cars, but the company may opt to incorporate graphene in those batteries. Graphene is a better electricity conductor than copper, 200 times stronger than steel, and transparent. Furthermore, its properties can be changed following the addition of chemical components.

According to a news article published by China's Xinhua news agency in 2014, Tesla was researching the use of a graphene battery to double the 208- to 315-mile range of its Model S cars. Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, later stated that it was possible to create an electric vehicle with a range of 500 miles, but the company has not confirmed whether it is researching or experimenting with graphene.

3D Printed Graphene Battery Is a Reality
The time is near when people will be able to produce a power source in their homes with the help of 3D printing technology. Graphene 3D Lab, based in New York, has been conducting research for the past five years to design a material using 3D printing that can be fitted into any battery. This technology is not yet patented, but can produce as much power as a AA battery, the company claims. Dr. Elena Polyakova, Graphene 3D Lab's COO, told Forbes, "There is a lot of excitement around graphene and we expect interest in our designs from several sectors including the military, aerospace and car industries."

The research activities involving highly flexible graphene batteries produce 25 percent more power than lithium-ion batteries. To produce this type of battery using a 3D printer, a mixture of plastic and graphene in nano-platelet form is heated to form any shape. This type of graphene battery is helpful in products that have little room for the addition of batteries.

Supercharging By Graphene Battery
Researchers have been endeavoring to minimize charging times for mobile phones due to growing energy concerns. A team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have found a way to use graphene batteries to charge an iPhone faster than anyone could imagine. An iPhone with a graphene supercapacitor installed can be fully charged within only five seconds, while a MacBook requires only 30 seconds to charge.

On the other hand, electric vehicles can be charged at the speed of filling a car's tank with gasoline. These batteries are non-toxic, inexpensive to manufacture and very efficient. Richard Kaner, a member of UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute, worked with graduate student Maher El-Kady to develop these micro-scale graphene batteries, which are twistable and can bend easily. This design is ideal for use in e-papers, flexible displays and wearable electronics, and has no adverse effect on the environment since the batteries are biodegradable and compostable. "We are now looking for industry partners to help us mass-produce our graphene micro-supercapacitors," Kaner said in a statement.

This technology offers great opportunities for manufacturers to collaborate with researchers and introduce such a design into their products. It will also help manufacturers to gain a stronger position in the global market.

Bhawna Rath is a senior content writer with Allied Market Research. She has worked closely with industry experts from various sectors, including chemical, automotive, transportation, information technology, life sciences, construction, manufacturing, energy and power. Rath believes in providing unbiased information to guide major business decisions.

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