CHEMICALS CHANGE – Lithium is a great material for building drums, but it is certainly not the only one. Even the much more common aluminum has some arrows in its bow. It is much cheaper, more abundant and less aggressive than lithium and, when paired with the right materials, could be a game changer in the industry. In fact, there is almost no danger, ease in the recovery of raw materials at the end of their life, very fast recharging and bomb-proof longevity. To say it is the Australian Graphene Manufacturing Group on the basis of the results of research conducted in collaboration with the University of Queensland. On prototypes of cells with graphene and aluminum ions. The numbers seem to speak for themselves: the power density is around 7,000 W / kg, an incredible value if you consider that current lithium batteries reach around 700 W / kg.
LITTLE DENSE, BUT … – This value is directly related to charging speed, which is claimed to be 10 times faster than lithium-ion batteries. Longevity also seems record-breaking: the prototypes endured 2,000 charge / discharge cycles with no measurable degradation. However, an Achilles heel is there energy density, quantified in 160 Wh / kg: nothing exceptional if we think that the current most capable lithium cells exceed 250 Wh / kg. This damages the autonomy: it is as if there was less energy in the “tank” of the car, for the same weight. However, there are some factors that would make things better. The first is that recovering autonomy would be very easy thanks to the speed of recharging. The second is that the intrinsic stability of these cells could eliminate the need for a dedicated air conditioning system which, according to GMG CEO Craig Nicol, interviewed by Forbes, accounts for about 20% of the weight of a battery pack.
MANY THINGS TO CLARIFY – Nicol also argues that it is very likely that these cells will not need cooling or heating, as they work well even in sub-zero temperatures. For the same weight of the battery, therefore, there would be “more cells” and this would at least partially compensate for the lower Wh / kg of the aluminum ion elements. The unknowns on the price of graphene: it is absolutely non-toxic (it is made of carbon), but it is difficult to produce and costs more than lithium and cobalt. The fact that these cells do not contain copper, the price of which is rising during this period, does not compensate for the costs of graphene. Pros and cons, therefore, the effect of which will only be clear in some time. From GMG they let it be known that the first evaluation prototypes (clock-like button cells rechargeable in 10 seconds) will be in production in 6 months while for the cells suitable for smartphones and laptops it will be necessary to wait. And that these cells would be compatible with Volkswagen’s MEB platform and many others since their shape can be any: we’ll see.