Brisbane company to develop graphene aluminium-ion batteries

Tuesday, 27 April, 2021

Brisbane company to develop graphene aluminium-ion batteries

Brisbane-based Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) has announced a research agreement with The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) for the development of graphene aluminium-ion batteries, said to be faster-charging, more sustainable and longer-lived than lithium-ion batteries.

AIBN’s Professor Michael Yu, Dr Xiaodan Huang and Yueqi Kong devised the technology to make graphene into more efficient electrodes for powering batteries, receiving $390,000 in funding over three years from the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects scheme in 2020. GMG has now agreed to use the technology to manufacture commercial battery prototypes for watches, phones, laptops, electric vehicles and grid storage; under the terms of the agreement, GMG and UQ will pay $150,054 and $82,788 respectively to carry out the project. GMG will also reimburse the incurred patent execution costs up to an agreed maximum amount.

AIBN Director Professor Alan Rowan said UQ was delighted to partner with GMG to translate scientific ideas into commercial solutions through the development of more efficient and greener batteries.

“After several years of dedicated research into improving the aluminium-ion battery, we are excited to be at the phase of developing commercial prototypes for more sustainable, faster-charging batteries,” Prof Rowan said.

“Testing showed rechargeable graphene aluminium-ion batteries had a battery life of up to three times that of current leading lithium-ion batteries, and higher power density meant they charged up to 70 times faster.

“The batteries are rechargeable for a larger number of cycles without deteriorating performance and are easier to recycle, reducing potential for harmful metals to leak into the environment.”

The technology has been patented and licensed by UQ commercialisation company UniQuest, with whom GMG has signed a licence agreement that provides the latter exclusive licence of the technology for battery cathodes. UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the technology could transform the existing rechargeable battery market, which is currently dominated by lithium ion.

“Lithium-ion batteries demand the extraction of rare earth materials using large amounts of water and are processed with chemicals that can potentially harm the environment,” he said. “This project has real potential to provide the market with a more environmentally friendly and efficient alternative.”

GMG Head Scientist Dr Ashok Nanjundan said the batteries are also safer because they do not use lithium, which had been known to cause fires in some mobile phones.

“The current recyclability of batteries is highly problematic due to their chemical properties, and the stockpiling of dead batteries presents a large and looming environmental and public safety concern,” he said.

GMG CEO Craig Nicol said the use of local raw materials to manufacture battery cells, replacing imported lithium-ion cells, is a massive opportunity for GMG and Australia to reduce supply chain risks and create local jobs.

“We’re excited about developing the commercial prototypes followed by initial production here in Australia, at a location yet to be determined,” he said.

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