Graphene is transforming the energy sector. It could unlock new possibilities for power generation, storage and infrastructure.
“Stories of supposedly groundbreaking technologies seem to be around every corner. It is rare, however, for these innovations to actually change the world. One material that succeeded in disproving its sceptics was plastic – dating back to the mid-19th century, synthetic polymers have had a profound impact on the planet.
Graphene boasts an impressive collection of superlatives: not only is it the world’s thinnest material, but it is also the strongest
However, plastic is now falling out of favour due to its contribution to environmental pollution and its role in encouraging a throw-away culture. But there is another wonder material promising disruption on a global scale: graphene. According to the University of Manchester, which was the site of graphene’s discovery, “combining all of graphene’s amazing properties could create an impact of the scale last seen with the Industrial Revolution”.
In the energy sector, there are a number of ways graphene could enhance power generation, storage and infrastructure. As Craig Dawson, a graphene applications manager at the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, told The New Economy: “Because graphene has the ability to serve several purposes, often at the same time, we could see its use [becoming] ubiquitous across the sector.”
Globally, the amount of electricity generated by renewable energy sources is on the rise. In 2017, nearly 24 percent of electricity produced around the world came from renewables. By 2023, the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects that figure to rise to almost 30 percent. Led by solar, wind and hydropower, renewables are set to meet more than 70 percent of global electricity-generation growth, the IEA said.
One big snag in the development of the renewables industry has been the fact that green sources of energy are produced intermittently – when the sun is shining or the wind blowing, for example. To ensure excess energy can be held back and deployed once again when the clouds come out, energy storage will be a vital element of the renewable energy mix.
Dawson and his colleagues at the University of Manchester see graphene as a good candidate for the creation of next-generation batteries, thanks to the material’s mechanical and chemical robustness alongside its impressive conductivity.”
Read full article Graphene is the new wonder material transforming the energy sector
Source: The New Economy – Courtney Goldsmith
Image: (L-R) Vials containing graphite, expanded graphite and graphene