Egg unboiling machine enables graphene battery development

12th December 2017

The Australian researchers who successfully unboiled an egg are turning their attention to capturing the energy of graphene oxide to make a more efficient alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

The Flinders University team in South Australia has partnered with Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria, ASX-listed First Graphene and manufacturer Kremford.

The collaboration is developing a graphene-oxide-powered battery, a super-capacity energy storage alternative to emerging lithium-ion battery technology.

Graphene is the lightest, strongest, most electrically conductive material available and has been predicted to generate revolutionary new products in many industry sectors. However, unreliable quality and poor manufacturing processes has prevented an industrial graphene market.

In 2015, Flinders University scientists were awarded an Ig Nobel Award for creating the Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD) and using it to unboil an egg. The device has also been used to accurately slice carbon nanotubes to an average length of 170 nanometres using only water, a solvent and a laser. It has also been used to process graphene to a high quality for commercial use.

VFD creator and professor of clean technology at Flinders University Professor Colin Raston says the production of graphene oxide from graphite ore with minimal waste is an important part of the collaborative project.

“This project aims to develop the manufacturing specifications for the commercial production of a graphene oxide super-capacitor with the ‘look and feel’ of a lithium-ion battery, but with superior performance across weight, charge rate, life cycle and environmental footprint factors,” he says.

The A$3.45-million project is being supported by a A$1.5-million Cooperative Research Centre Project grant through the Australian government’s Advance Manufacturing Fund.

First Graphene will use the Flinders University technology to produce the highest-quality graphene at scale and to become a global supplier of graphene nanomaterials products.

Researchers at Swinburne’s Centre for Micro-Photonics are working on a commercially viable, chemical-free, long-lasting safe graphene-oxide-based supercapacitor, which offers high performance and low-cost energy storage capabilities.

Raston says there is significant global research to improve energy storage capability to support its role in the development of sustainable energy storage systems.

“For example, we’re seeing the rapid rise of lithium-ion batteries around the world, notably with South Australia’s significant investment in the new storage facility near Jamestown in this state.”

South Australia is the home of the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery – the 100 MW, or 129 MWh, Tesla battery at Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm was switched on this month.

First Graphene MD Craig McGuckin says the funding will propel the company’s innovative approach to finding real-world applications for graphene.

* This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia.