The graphene industry is at a crossroads for most small and medium companies, which are hoping to start bringing in revenue after years of investment. Unlike government and university research groups, medium sized companies cannot afford to take the long road.
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However, some trailblazing companies are showing considerable commercial progress, many of which are planning to speak at the Graphene & 2D Materials USA Conference on November the 18th in California.
Energy storage is one of the major focus areas of the graphene industry with the sector expected to reach a value of $100 million by the year 2026. The addition of graphene to standard lithium-ion batteries has improved their performance, at particularly high discharge rates, by significantly reducing any resistive losses.
Graphene products are already entering the market and are being manufactured by top companies like Cabot Corporation, who will be speaking at the Graphene and 2D Materials USA, as part of the IDTechEx Show.
Silicon-anode batteries are the latest advancement in Li-ion technology. IDTechEx has researched this market extensively and estimates that it will reach $4 billion dollars by 2026. The cyclability and lifetime of the batteries is a major challenge as silicon anodes degrade over time as a result of expansions and contractions occuring during their charge/discharge cycles.
In order to overcome this problem the strain can be buffered by implanting silicon nanostructures in carbonous host materials. Graphene is the most suitable material to use as a host material. Many companies like SiNode Systems are focusing on the use of graphene in silicon anode batteries, and hence, have been invited to participate at the Graphene & 2D Materials USA event.
Lithium Sulfur Batteries
Another interesting development in the post-lithium ion technology is lithium sulfur batteries. IDTechEx estimates that this market will reach $1 billion by the year 2026. Like the silicon-based batteries, lithium sulfur batteries are also subject to lifetime and cyclability issues.
However, unlike the silicon batteries degradation occurs by a polyshuttle mechanism. In this case there is a loss of active materials occurs during each charge and discharge resulting in a reduced efficiency over time. The use of graphene shows promise in resolving this issue.
The use of graphene in lithium sulfur batteries is expected to further increase as the market evolves, which is the reason companies like Sion Power and Oxis energy have been invited to participate in the event.
The graphene industry is trying to find most suitable form of graphene for energy storage applications. The challenge is to determine available graphene types and morphologies that can be effectively integrated with existing technology to create energy storage devices.
This is not a simple task and extensive experiments are being carried out with the aim of achieving this. Researchers from IIT, who have conducted experiments on graphene integration, will be presenting their findings at the event.
Supercapacitors technology has also been progressing considerably. It is estimated that the supercapacitor market will exceed $2 billion by the year 2020. Due to it's expansive surface area graphene is ideal to be used in supercapacitors.
However, the reduction of the electrode volume and determining a method of coating the electrodes that ensures the graphene platelets remain exposed remains a challenge. Thales has been invited to describe how it plans to challenge this problem.