Published November 16 2021
No Mo’ ’Splosions? Nanotech Energy Unveils Fireproof Graphene Battery
Author: Richard Kaner
Originally published: November 16, 2021
Nonflammable electrolyte promises to last longer and charge faster.
Wow, the claims Nanotech Energy makes for its new graphene battery, just presented at CES Unveiled, are impressive: It retains more than 80 percent of its rated capacity through 1,400 cycles, can charge “18 times faster than anything that is currently available on the market,” maintains performance at extreme temperatures (-40 to 140 degrees F), holds charge at temperatures as high as 350 degrees and won’t catch fire when penetrated with a nail or heated to more than 1,300 degrees, don’t require exotic materials, can be manufactured on existing equipment in various form factors (cylindrical, pouch, etc. ), and is going to be produced in a new plant in Nevada slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Given all that, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that driving an EV powered by such batteries also promoted weight loss and prevented tax audits. Here’s what we know about the Nanotech Energy graphene battery.
Graphene Battery Electrodes
Graphene has been making a lot of news lately, and we explained what it is here, but here’s a quickie recap: the graphene in use here is a sheet of one-atom-thick carbon. Nanotech Energy is using graphene sheets to transfer energy to and from its new batteries. Graphene is extremely strong yet pliable, which makes it capable of stretching as the lithium ions come and go from the electrodes, causing volume changes. Graphene’s strong electrical conductivity lowers the battery’s internal resistance, which lowers internal heat generation, enabling faster charging.
Nanotech Energy has yet to release exact chemical specifications of its proprietary liquid electrolyte, but it has provided MotorTrend with some general information. Most electrolytes in use today involve dissolving a lithium salt in a liquid material composed primarily of linear and cyclic chain carbonates (molecules that involve a carbon atom attached to three oxygen atoms). These liquids are typically flammable (see the photo below). The electrolyte reportedly is not, if photos (at top) of a propane torch applied to the material are to be believed.
While no specifics have been confirmed, the name suggests the material still centers around organic chemistry (meaning its molecules involve carbon atoms and covalent bonding, not ecological farming), and we’re assured they’re not exotic or expensive.
New Proprietary Separator
The graphene battery electrodes must be separated by a material through which the ions transfer, and here again Nanotech Energy has replaced the typical polyolefin separator with a new material that improves on polyolefin’s thermal stability. This also helps to make the batteries safer.
Easy To Manufacture
Current manufacturing equipment and processes currently in use to make lithium-ion pouch and cylinder batteries can produce Nanotech Energy’s graphene battery, and a factory designed to build them is currently slated to open in late 2022.
When Can I Buy A Graphene Battery?
Perhaps as early as next year, but we expect initial production to concentrate on the consumer electronics market. That’s because it’s extremely unlikely that sufficient durability, reliability and safety testing on all these new materials when applied toward an automotive use case can be completed in less than a few years.