When CES was still a live event, we talked to the people at Real Graphene about how they would blow everyone away with their breakthrough battery technology. They’ve been hardworking little beavers ever since, and not just because their supply chains were brutalized during the pandemic. They have partnered with a company called Elecjet, blocked patents, successfully completed their first crowdfunding campaign, and are well on their way through their second campaign.
What is so great about graphs anyway?
The big thing is that graphene-based batteries charge very quickly. We tried Elecjet’s upcoming Apollo Ultra, and it can easily charge its 10,000mAh capacity in half an hour. This is really true when you find that at this capacity, most batteries take a few hours to fully charge. The Apollo Ultra’s performance depends a bit on a 100 watt charger, but the graphene cathode does the heavy lifting here.
OK, but how does a graphene battery work anyway?
Relax, we were just about to do it. First, let’s do a quick refresher on how lithium-ion batteries work. In short, a battery has two main compartments separated by a porous membrane. When you charge a battery, it pulls electrons from one compartment to the other. The membrane prevents these electrons from drifting back to their natural home on the home page. When the battery circuit is closed by a device that needs some juice, those electrons have a way back. So these electrons go through all the hoops it takes to get back to where they started, creating the wonderful electrical current we need to watch cat videos on YouTube.
Sdk16420 / Creative Commons
Now these electrons have to cool down somewhere on both sides. Traditionally, the negatively charged anode side of a lithium-ion battery uses graphite. It’s carbon, it’s stable, and it’s just clinging enough to the electrons that they stay there, but not so clinging that they can’t be withdrawn. The anode is the side that pulls the electrons when charging a battery.
Graphene is a single monomolecular graphite layer. Because of this structure, graphene is even more stable than graphite. It offers a unique grid in which electrons can settle above and below the sheet without hitting other sheets, as is the case with graphite. Graphene can be 70% more conductive than copper, which greatly improves the battery’s charging performance.
Sooooo … fast loading? That’s it?
What a cynic! The other side of using graphs is its extended overall life cycle. Since graphene is more stable than graphite, it degrades much more slowly. When you charge and discharge a battery, the media that hold the electrons to the anode and cathode are destroyed a little because they are constantly pulling electrons out of them. The carbon atoms in graphene have super-strong bonds that Elecjet says will give the Apollo Ultra battery more than 2,500 power cycles compared to the usual 500. While this remains to be seen in everyday use, a 5-fold reduction in battery waste could make the initial novelty of fast charging very much well in the shade.
Graphene has been studied for years and has shown great promise. Advances in battery technology are few and far between, so it will be exciting to see them actually hit the market. While it’s great news for those of us looking for a way to quickly charge phones, laptops, and tablets, there are bigger apps to watch out for. It’s easy to see how a graphene-based portable smartphone battery will eventually evolve into large commercial batteries for solar and wind power generation.