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Brisbane-based Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) says its newly developed graphene aluminum-ion batteries are lighter than lithium-ion batteries, charge faster, have longer lifespans and have better environmental certifications, making them a viable choice for electrical applications. He said it could change automotive technology.

With a global battery market estimated to be worth $50 billion by mid-century, GMG said its battery technology could be used in a variety of applications, including everything from coin cells for key fobs to utilities. said. -Battery packs of the scale used to power electric vehicles.

Additionally, graphene aluminum-ion batteries offer “three to five times” the energy density of lithium-ion batteries and do not ignite, both in crashes and when thermal runaway events can cause significant fires. , which provides a distinct safety advantage to the vehicle. Like the one that wrecked the Felicity Ace, a freighter leased by Volkswagen in 2021.

Additionally, graphene aluminum-ion batteries are not lethal to swallow like lithium-ion batteries, are fully recyclable, and do not require mining cobalt, copper, lithium, manganese, or other rare earth metals for production. There is none.

Speaking to GoAuto this week, Craig Nichol, founder and managing director of the Graphene Manufacturing Group, a former Shell executive, said his company’s graphene aluminum-ion batteries are the subject of many concerns surrounding the production of toxic lithium-ion batteries. said he was confident that the problem could be addressed. It also offers longer life and up to 70x faster charging capability.

“We see a lot of potential for this technology in automotive applications, especially given its excellent performance in fast-charging and regenerative braking conditions,” said Nichol.

“Especially in the next 10 to 15 years, there will be a huge need for batteries and it may take a while to reach scale, but we are working to bring battery technology to market as quickly as possible. increase. “

GMG’s proprietary manufacturing process forms graphene powder directly from natural gas, offering clear environmental benefits. The powder is then compressed into pellets and implanted with microscopic aluminum ions using nanotechnology developed in collaboration with the University of Queensland.

Nichol said the process is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than traditional methods of forming graphene from graphite, and the long-term scalability of technology comparable to that currently used to make lithium-ion batteries. said to implement

The manufacturing process of graphene aluminum-ion batteries produces hydrogen as a by-product, offering further applications in the transportation industry to power fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

“I don’t think we give enough thought to how the materials used in current battery technology are sourced,” Nichols told GoAuto.

“Mining is very resource intensive and is not currently being carried out in an environmentally effective manner. The provenance is questionable.

“With our technology, there is only graphene and aluminum, and at the end of the battery life, the aluminum is recycled and the graphene is reused. It also produces hydrogen as a by-product, making the process almost completely emission-free. , which is expected to be very close to it.

“Of course, aluminum mining is currently an intensive process, but Rio Tinto is also working on new emissions-free processes. That is why we are working closely with them. hopes to provide truly emission-free batteries and batteries that can be used over and over again.”

Nichols said GMG’s graphene aluminum-ion battery could form part of a solution for motivating electric vehicles in the future, and is looking to develop a range of battery technologies for future use in cars. He said he was encouraged by conversations with manufacturers he was considering. .

“The manufacturers we’ve been talking to want to understand what the different technologies are available, but the opportunity to change the entire (electric vehicle) space makes it difficult for us to offer what we can offer.” I’m particularly interested,” he explained.

“For example, the way we design batteries and the way cars are designed is that the battery ‘pack’ doesn’t necessarily have to be in one place, but can be placed in multiple parts of the car to better distribute the weight. means .

“Another important factor is the ability to provide direct current, which means manufacturers can use direct-drive DC motors. AC motors consume far more power than they actually need. This is basically because the chemistry offered by Li-ion batteries requires them to be manufactured as AC packs.

“To meet that requirement, electric vehicles incorporate many design requirements and are essentially all based on lithium atoms.

“Providing another kind of atom opens up a lot of opportunities, even solid-state batteries.

“We will find a space and grow out of that space over time as other technologies evolve. It’s the most important thing.”

GMG plans to start producing coin-sized batteries next year before moving to “pouch pack” units in 2024. Nichols believes the low material base intensity and low overall weight will provide clear logistical benefits. The batteries his company makes are more cost-effective than those currently available.

“We should be able to offer a lower cost, that’s for sure. Not only are the material costs associated with our batteries lower, but they are also much cheaper to assemble. But having said that, it’s a new technology and we need some time to catch up,” he said.

“Lithium-ion technology has been in development for the last 30-40 years, but right now we are only looking at the first two years of this[graphene aluminum ion]technology. is very exciting, triple the energy density means an EV could travel three times the distance or weigh a third of a lithium-ion powered model. .

“The ability to charge quickly and last 3-5 times longer than lithium-ion batteries (most batteries only have an 8-year warranty) is very important to people considering an EV. It’s a very complex mix of requirements, but our technology is able to bring these elements together, and over time it will only get lighter and smaller.”

GMG is listed on Canada’s TSX Venture exchange and has a market capitalization of around $300 million, according to the Australian Financial Review. The company also uses graphene technology to improve thermal barrier coatings used in air conditioning and ventilation systems, combustion engine radiators and related cooling components, spray paints and automotive fluids.

AFR announces that GMG has entered into an informal partnership with global mining giant Rio Tinto to integrate some of the company’s energy-saving technologies into its business and to supply aluminum to GMG’s commercial battery business. I am reporting that