Has Samsung SDI Cracked The Graphene Battery Puzzle? New Study Raises Questions

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Has Samsung SDI finally cracked the puzzle of how to commercialize graphene batteries? A new study published in the journal Nature raises some interesting questions on that count.

Energy density, charging speeds, and possibly cycle life as well can all be improved in lithium-ion battery cells through the use of graphene — that much has been known for awhile, but large-scale commercialization has remained elusive for various reasons.

Now, there’s new research from Samsung SDI involving the use of so-called graphene balls (GB) as a coating for the NCM cathode, in addition to the anode. The new research found that such a use increased stability and degradation resistance. This suggests that something commercial may now be not too far into the offing … maybe.

“The electrochemical tests of the GB anode in half-cell and full-cell configurations. a Rate capability of the GB anode in half-cell when measured at various C-rates (1C = 700 mA g−1) at 25 and 60 °C. b Cycle life of the GB anode at 25 and 60 °C when measured at 5C in half-cell. c Cross-sectional SEM image of the GB anode after 500 cycle at 5C (scale bar, 15 µm). d A magnified view of c (scale bar, 200 nm). e Cycle life of the GB-NCM/GB full-cell at 25 and 60 °C when measured at 5C. The initial areal capacities of the GB anodes in half-cell and full-cell are 2.7 and 2.4 mAh cm−2, respectively. In each cycle, charging and discharging rates were the same for all the data shown in this figure.”

Here’s a quote from the paper worth taking note of (thanks to Push EVs for publishing an article on this subject, and thus bringing it to my attention): “Taking the unique advantages of GB, the full-cell consisting of the GB-coated cathode and GB anode demonstrates the possibility of high volumetric energy density near 800 Wh L-1 in a commercial cell condition, together with 78.6% capacity retention after 500 cycles at 5°C and 60°C.”

As noted in the coverage at Push EVs, the new battery cell apparently possesses a “better energy density at 60°C (444 Wh/kg) than at 25°C (370 Wh/kg), making the use of a TMS (Thermal Management System) dispensable. … Charging at 5°C, means that a battery can be charged from 0% to 80% in slightly less than 10 minutes. Furthermore, a volumetric energy density of 800 Wh/L means that an electric car like the Renault Zoe could have a 75 kWh battery and a realistic range of 500 km. Given that the battery capacity retention is 78.6% after 500 cycles at 5°C and 60°C, a 500 km range becomes 400 km after 250,000 km (500 cycles).”

If true, that could represent a real means of notably reducing battery application costs in electric vehicles.

As “breakthroughs” in the battery technology sector are a dime a dozen these days, and most often seem to involve the careful omission of important details or figures, it’s not clear yet what to make of the new paper, but it still probably represents something worth keeping an eye on.

Perhaps further context is needed, though? As noted in the coverage quoted from above, LG Chem and SK Innovation are slated to bring “next gen” NCM 811 EV battery cells to market in 2018 (higher energy density and lower costs). Is Samsung SDI truly close to commercial application, or just trying to keep up appearances?

BMW Group Technology Workshops — E-Mobility in December 2016, via Push EVs

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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