Researchers from the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI), at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF), have achieved a major milestone in their collaboration with local battery materials company, Sicona Battery Technologies (Sicona), in the commercial production of a cutting edge energy material, edge functionalised graphene (EFG).
They have produced more than a kilogram of the highly conductive and processable graphene using the IPRI large scale materials reactor that was funded by ANFF to assist the translation of fundamental research materials into commercial applications.
“This is an extraordinary achievement by UOW researchers Dr Greg Ryder and Dr Jamie Smyth. Five years ago, we were able to produce a few grams of EFG that we used to demonstrate its unique value in a variety of energy applications such as enhancing the conductivity of Sicona’s battery electrodes," said Project Leader Professor David Officer.
"However, the translation of EFG into real world applications required us to prove that we could achieve a cost-effective large-scale synthesis of EFG.
"The production of a kilogram of EFG in two days by Greg and Jamie not only firmly lays the foundation for its commercial use in Sicona batteries but opens the way for other commercial entities to trial the material in a wide variety of revolutionary energy applications, from cooling solutions to plastic composites.”
EFG is a unique form of graphene that is both highly conductive and processable. It is made of nano platelets that have excellent potential as a valuable carbon additive for a variety of electrochemical devices. In 2021, Sicona recognised EFG’s potential to produce high quality battery materials through its ability to enhance electrical conductivity, purchasing the UOW EFG IP and funding research into its scale-up and application.
“This achievement is brilliant example of the potential of IPRI to develop cutting edge materials in fundamental research projects and then work with industry to translate those materials into commercial products using ANFF facilities and expertise," said IPRI Director Distinguished Professor Gordon Wallace.
"It highlights our ability to create new manufacturing and industry opportunities for Australia.“