Graphene and the powerful future of sustainable batteries
World-leading battery expert Kristina Edström delivered a keynote speech at Graphene Week 2021. We heard a powerful and hopeful message.
Kristina Edström, professor of chemistry at Uppsala University, coordinates the large-scale European research initiative Battery 2030+. The aim is to develop the next generation of energy storage materials, the batteries of the future: smarter and more sustainable than ever.
"We see an electrification of society due to environmental factors. The battery industry and research community are booming. Europe needs batteries manufactured in Europe and now it is happening, with giga-factories being built in Scandinavia and in the UK for example, also Asian companies are moving into Europe," says Kristina Edström.
Her keynote speech at the successful Graphene Week 2021 met a big digital following with over 250 people attending. Kristina Edström enjoyed her 30 minutes on stage.
"Carbon materials in batteries is my favourite topic! I don’t think you can find a single battery today without carbon in it. If we investigate the future of batteries, graphene really can come into play."
Without carbon the electronic conductivity will not work. The batteries also need to function at high temperatures, be lightweight and fast charging. Today there are challenges for graphite in lithium-ion batteries and graphene is involved by helping with electrode engineering, electronic conductivity and electronic wiring between the larger graphite particles needed.
Kristina Edström showcased sodium-ion batteries, where you don’t need lithium and use hard carbon in the batteries. Graphene can be used as a part of the binder to keep it on to a current connector.
The world-leading battery researcher also mentioned the lithium-sulfur battery, where they try to make nanosheets with sulfur that reacts easily with lithium and is kept in place by graphene.
"It’s a beautiful example of how to use graphene in batteries. Protective layers, keeping things in place, handling some of the challenges with the Li–S battery. With graphene you can create so many structures and work with it in a fantastic way."
Can we expect to see graphene batteries in every household?
"I think you can expect to see graphene as one additive in batteries in every household. Not as the main component, but as an additive,” says Kristina Edström.