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What in the World is Graphene and What is it Good for?

Since its discovery in 2004, graphene has attracted the attention of researchers in droves. With remarkable electrical and thermal conductivity, huge surface area, great tensile strength, and at only one atom thick, it is recognised to be the strongest, lightest, and most electrically conductive material ever discovered. As the thinnest material known to exist, graphene is a flexible layer of carbon atoms in a hexagonal arrangement, it is almost transparent and being so thin is said to be two dimensional. Holding the potential to revolutionise numerous industries, from energy and data storage to medical technology and equipment, graphene is at the core of Australian company, enyGy’s vision. EnyGy® proprietary graphene technology is dramatically enhancing the performance of ultracapacitor energy storage capabilities and paves the way for a net zero future through the implementation of this technology into many of our daily use applications. These could include public transport, electric cars, elevators, energy generation (wind and solar farms), and personal devices.

So where does this wonder material come from? Graphene is the basic structural element for graphite. Yes, the old grey-lead pencil, but unlike soft graphite, graphene atoms are tightly bonded in its lattice like nanostructure making it extremely strong. The graphene is extracted from mined graphite through a reduction process. The graphite is oxidized to become graphene oxide, which is a less pure form of graphene. Further reduction processing results in pristine graphene, which is referred to as high quality graphene. It stands to reason that pristine graphene is therefore more expensive than graphene oxide. It requires more processing and so more time, chemicals, labour, etc. Whereas graphene oxide is much cheaper, easier and quicker to produce, and more readily available in commercial use quantities.

Various companies around the world are already developing graphene enhanced products. In particular, the sports industry is one that is prominent in consumer sights. Lighter weight sports gear such as bicycle frames and tennis racquets, stronger personal protection and safety equipment, and even higher durability footwear. These are positioned to provide enhanced performance, ease of use and efficiency in transportation. But the remarkable electrical conductivity and large surface area of graphene make it ideal for use in ultracapacitor technology (also known as supercapacitors). These energy storage devices function electrostatically rather than relying on chemical reactions, and the large surface area of graphene means an increased amount of energy that may be stored within a given volume (volumetric energy density).

Within the typical construction of an ultracapacitor, activated carbon materials are used to form an electrode film. This film is what stores the energy and gives an ultracapacitor a higher energy density than that of traditional capacitors. By combining enyGy’s technological nanomaterial innovations with the high electrical conductivity and large surface area of graphene, enyGy has succeeded in achieving up to double the energy density of leading ultracapacitors in the market today. And enyGy is accomplishing this using low cost graphene oxide.

So why isn’t graphene being widely used in vast amounts of products and applications already? Because retaining the remarkable properties of graphene throughout the processing of the graphene-based materials at macroscopic level presents an extreme challenge. You need to finely control its structure and chemistry at nanometer scale to preserve its properties, and be able to do this at bulk level. EnyGy have successfully developed production approaches and solutions for successful implementation of graphene in high-performance electrodes. The world is primed for the age of graphene, and enyGy is at the forefront of its incorporation into ultracapacitor technology.

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