Grafoid, University of Waterloo to Develop Graphene-Based Composites for Electrochemical Energy Storage

Published on April 17, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Focus Graphite Inc. on behalf of Grafoid Inc. ("Grafoid") is pleased to announce the signing of a two-year R&D agreement between Grafoid Inc. and the University of Waterloo to investigate and develop a graphene-based composite for electrochemical energy storage for the automotive and/or portable electronics sectors.

Gary Economo, President and CEO of Focus Graphite Inc. and Grafoid Inc., said the objective of the agreement is to research and develop patentable applications using Grafoid's unique investment which derives graphene from raw, graphite ore to target specialty high value graphene derivatives ranging from sulfur graphene to nanoporous graphene foam.

Some of the new graphene materials will contribute positively as a powerful next generation composite for fuel cell/electrochemical supercapacitor applications, he said.

Those applications include but are not limited to: electrodes, nanocatalyst support, electrolyte membranes and bipolar plates, transparent electrodes and other potential applications which create high-efficiency solutions in electrochemical energy systems and portable electronics.

"Today's announcement marks Grafoid's fifth publicly declared graphene development project with a major academic or corporate institution, and the third related directly to a next generation green technology or renewable energy development project," Mr. Economo said.

It follows R&D partnering projects announced with Rutgers University's AMIPP, CVD Equipment Corporation, with Hydro-Quebec's research institute, IREQ, and with British Columbia-based CapTherm Systems, an advanced thermal management technologies developer and producer.

Mr. Economo said Grafoid's investment in highly conductive graphene, combined with the University's advanced catalyst technologies could advance the science "by opening the door to a realistic, cost-competitive option to other energy solutions."

"Given our growth agenda for 2013, we expect to be in a position to announce a number of additional application development projects throughout the course of 2013," Mr. Economo added.

Dr. Aiping Yu, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo will be the lead investigator of the project. Dr. Gordon Chiu, Research Scientist, Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo will be working on the project.

Dr. Chiu said that research and discovery on graphene sulfur and nanoporous graphene is well documented and is a cornerstone for a wide range of applications

"The technology for tailoring graphene for energy storage systems must be developed. This will lead to unique intellectual property assets.

"Our group's approach for targeting graphene derivatives that powerfully impact next generation energy storage systems adds significant value to commercial applications while providing invaluable knowledge and insight about the engineering of graphene and certain graphene metamaterials," Dr. Chiu said.

Dr. Yu said that graphene without proper porosity and polarity remain "a constant roadblock for entry into next generation energy storage applications.

"My group will focus on solving the specific tailoring and design of graphene to enable entry into these energy storage areas" she said. "

"Grafoid's decision to invest in reducing or removing such a roadblock is a brilliant approach of enhancing graphene for impacting fuel cells, electrochemical supercapacitors and/or other portable energy storage systems," Dr. Yu added.

Background

Alternative Energy & Graphene:

The quest for alternative energy sources is one of the most important and exciting challenges facing science and technology in the 21st century. Environmentally-friendly, efficient and sustainable energy generation and usage have become large efforts for advancing human societal needs. Graphene is a pure form of carbon with powerful characteristics which can bring about success in portable, stationary and transportation applications in high energy demanding areas in which electrochemical energy storage and conversion devices such as batteries, fuel cells and electrochemical supercapacitors are the necessary devices.

Electrochemical Supercapacitors:

Supercapacitors, a zero-emission energy storage system, have a number of high-impact characteristics, such as fast charging, long charge-discharge cycles and broad operating temperature ranges, currently used or heavily researched in hybrid or electrical vehicles, electronics, aircrafts, and smart grids for energy storage. The US Department of Energy has assigned the same importance to supercapacitors and batteries. There is much research looking at combining electrochemical supercapacitors with battery systems or fuel cells.

Fuel Cells:

A fuel cell is a zero-emission source of power, and the only byproduct of a fuel cell is water. Some fuel cells use natural gas or hydrocarbons as fuel, but even those produce far less emissions than conventional sources. As a result, fuel cells eliminate or at least vastly reduce the pollution and greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels, and since they are also quiet in operation, they also reduce noise pollution. Fuel cells are more efficient than combustion engines as they generate electricity electrochemically. Since they can produce electricity onsite, the waste heat produced can also be used for heating purposes. Small fuel cells are already replacing batteries in portable products.

Toyota is planning to launch fuel cell cars in 2015, and has licensed its fuel cell vehicle technology to Germany's BMW AG. BMW will use the technology to build a prototype vehicle by 2015, with plans for a market release around 2020.

By 2020, market penetration could rise as high as 1.2 million fuel cell vehicles, which would represent 7.6% of the total U.S. automotive market. Other fuel cell end users are fork lift and mining industries which continuously add profits to this growing industry.

Proton or polymer exchange membranes (PEM) have become the dominant fuel cell technology in the automotive market.

The U.S. Department of Energy has set fuel cell performance standards for 2015. As of today, no technologies under development have been able to meet the DOE's targets for performance and cost.

Source: http://www.focusgraphite.com

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