Graphene revolution for chemical engineering (Day 1)

28th May 2014

We've heard a lot about Graphene in recent years and it's an area which is promising a revolution in electrical and chemical engineering

Graphene is the world's thinnest material. It is a potent conductor, extremely lightweight, chemically inert and flexible with a large surface area. It could be the perfect candidate for high capacity energy storage.

It's an opportunity the University of Manchester, UK, is looking to exploit in the coming years.

Manchester is a powerhouse for applied and fundamental graphene research, with the National Graphene Institute leading the way.

Early research has already shown that lithium batteries with graphene in their electrodes had a greater capacity and lifespan than standard designs.

A new project at Manchester is exploring different ways to reduce the size and weight of batteries and extend their lifespan by adding graphene as a component material.

Another focus of the project is graphene-based supercapacitors, which tend to have high power capability and longer cycle life than batteries, but lower energy storage capacity.

The University believes a combination of graphene batteries and supercapacitors could give electric car sales some serious thrust.

Current green vehicles run on batteries that weigh 200kg – as much as three passengers. By reducing the weight of the batteries graphene should boost vehicle efficiency and increase the driving range of electric cars to beyond 100km – a limitation that currently prevents their widespread uptake.

The technology could also play a major role in the future of the National Grid as Britain becomes ever more dependent upon renewable energy.

A grid-scale battery and converter system is being installed on Manchester’s campus to test large scale electrical storage. Researchers will use the battery system to develop methods to control the flow of electricity and reconcile differences between power generation and local demand.

This is great news and we congratulate everyone at the University of Manchester.