Next gen solar cells
The Energy Generation Work Package addresses different approaches for energy harvesting: harnessing the energy of the sun with large-area photovoltaics and producing hydrogen with water electrolysers.
The last 10 years
This ten-year journey allowed us to bridge the gap between laboratory prototypes and up-scaled demonstrations, targeting applications in large-area solar panels for on-grid electricity generation, and flexible solar modules to power Internet of Things (IoT) devices. We developed various graphene and related materials (GRMs) and integrated them with perovskite solar cells to enhance both stability and efficiency. Technical issues that had slowed down the photovoltaics upscaling process have been resolved, including the replacement of noble metals, the processing of titanium dioxide at low temperatures and the optimisation of laser patterning. Moreover, GRM-based conductive pastes and novel encapsulants led to stable and efficient modules with low capital expenditure (CAPEX).
On the fuel cell front, we developed graphene-enabled supports for electrocatalysis. Initially, they were meant to promote only the oxygen reduction reaction, but at a later stage, electrocatalysts featuring a graphene-based support were also developed to promote the hydrogen evolution reaction and the oxygen evolution reaction at low-temperatures. We also devised graphene-based anticorrosion coatings, as well as easily scalable solid-state and liquid-based approaches to obtain enough inexpensive graphene. The resulting demonstrators showed an outstanding performance and durability in the electrochemical processes.
This year’s progress
The Energy Generation Work Package’s effort led to the world’s first outdoor demonstration of a solar farm with 4.5 m2 graphene–perovskite panels. These delivered a peak power exceeding 250 W and demonstrated a remarkable stability: only a 20% reduction in the performance over eight months. Gathered in an open data repository, all experimental data will be of interest to the photovoltaics industrial sector and will lay the groundwork for commercialisation targets. We reached high technology readiness levels (TRLs); TRL 6 in the solar farm demonstration, TRL 4-5 in the transparent conductive electrodes based on exfoliated graphene hybrids, and TRL 5 in the fully printed, flexible perovskite solar modules with stabilised output power for indoor applications. Finally, a life cycle assessment (LCA) model indicated that this technology might compete with those calculated for European 2050 electricity mix scenarios.
We devised graphene-enabled electrocatalysts that promote key processes for the operation of fuel cells and electrolysers, exhibiting a performance and durability beyond the state-of-the-art. These are also free from or with minimal concentrations of strategic elements, such as platinum group metals.
The GRM-enabled functional components, mostly supports and electrocatalysts, have already been synthesised in batches of 5-100 grams and could easily be scaled up. Such functional components are already available on the market for demo purposes and sampling by one of our industrial partners, BRETON.
Pescetelli, S. et al. Nature Energy 2022, DOI: 10.1038/s41560-022-01035-4
Zhang, H. et al. Nature Commun. 2022, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-27740-4
Castriotta, L. A. et al. Adv. Energy Mater. 2022, DOI: 10.1002/aenm.202103420
Di Noto, V. et al. ACS Catal. 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.2c03723
Lorandi, F. et al. Power Sources 2023, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2022.232390
Meta-market analysis identifies composites, batteries and electronics as major application areas likely to drive the overall development of the graphene market towards mass production.
The Graphene Flagship was funded to ensure that Europe would maintain its lead in graphene research and innovation following the scientific breakthrough of graphene’s isolation at the University of Manchester. The European Commission launched the unprecedented long-term and large-scale Flagship research initiatives to tackle major challenges in science and technology, bringing positive changes that benefit society and the economy and advance European leadership in technology and industry. A decade on, we are proud to say that the Graphene Flagship has delivered on its promise. The clearly achieved objectives within scientific excellence, as well as societal and economic impact are detailed inside these pages.
A consortium of 11 partners from six European nations has officially launched the GRAPHERGIA project, an ambitious 3.5-year Research and Innovation endeavour, funded by €4.5 million under the banner of Horizon Europe's Graphene Flagship initiative. Aimed at redefining the integration of energy solutions into everyday life, GRAPHERGIA is set to transform how we use and store energy, marking a significant milestone in the journey towards a climate-neutral future.
Graphene Flagship announces 30 percent ROI at conference
Aiming to reach the best 2D-materials reproducibility for the lab-to-fab