July has become the month of UpStream electrical mathematics. First we add urine with forward osmosis without electricity. This week, we will be adding pencil lead to water to create a battery.
That's right; a research team from the Monash University Department of Materials Engineering, led by Dr. Dan Li, have developed a material they call graphene. They believe this development could lead to the next generation of batteries. Why is this? This material can create an electrical storage device powerful enough to outshine even the most efficient lithium-ion batteries with the added bonus of only taking seconds to charge. Add to that its ability to charge an almost unending number of times and we might just have the perfect battery.
So, why isn't this in every product everywhere already? Hit the break to find out.
Dr. Li explain the limitations of graphene like this:
The reason graphene isn't being used everywhere is that these very thin sheets, when stacked into a usable macrostructure, immediately bond together, reforming graphite. When graphene restacks, most of the surface area is lost and it doesn't behave like graphene anymore.
That certainly creates problems. Luckily, they have discovered a way to avoid this problem: water. When wet, the material creates a bit of a gel with a heavy repulsing power that prevents the re-stacking dilemma, allowing them to create cells that might be able to be used in the real world.
The technique is very simple and can easily be scaled up. When we discovered it, we thought it was unbelievable. We're taking two basic, inexpensive materials – water and graphite – and making this new nanomaterial with amazing properties.
So, where does Dr. Li see this technology going (besides to space)?
High-speed, reliable and cost-effective energy storage systems are critical for the future viability of electricity from renewable resources. These systems are also the key to large-scale adoption of electrical vehicles.
Graphene gel is also showing promise for use in water purification membranes, biomedical devices and sensors.
My guess is, before this is all over, these new batteries will be in every electronic device you carry. Imagine a battery that costs only a few dollars, is rechargeable forever and takes only moments to go from dead to full. It could even make the Evo 3D usable!