Circuitbreakers based on graphene could safeguard the electrical grid
Spearhead Project Circuitbreakers designs innovative circuitbreakers using graphene composites.
The objective of the Circuitbreakers Spearhead Project is to enable first-of-their-kind grease-free, maintenance-free, low-voltage circuit breakers for fault protection in key parts of the electrical grid. Replacing lubricating grease with self-lubricating metal–graphene composites will substantially reduce the need for maintenance and service, as well as extending the lifetime of these critical devices.
Their technology was developed by the Graphene Flagship for electrical contacts, and has now been adapted and scaled for circuit breaker applications. The metal–graphene solution will be provided as a coating made by cost-effective electroplating, or as composite parts produced by sintering.
Circuitbreakers in a nutshell
The Circuitbreakers team worked with many of our European partners to narrow down the most suitable materials for electroplating and sintering, and to optimise the processes to make them scalable.
ABB Corporate Research, Sweden, defined specifications for material requirements. Chalmers University of Technology (CUT), Sweden, benchmarked different graphene materials to create a baseline of raw materials. CUT, Sweden, and FORTH, Greece, evaluated different functionalisation routes. Nanesa SRL, Italy, evaluated different electroplating process conditions and morphologies of graphene and layered materials for metal-graphene coatings. The University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy, evaluated and confirmed the importance of different treatment processes. Graphmatech AB, Sweden, prepared sintered composite metal–graphene components using selected metal powders and their proprietary ArosGraphene® material. The Circuitbreakers team also took initiatives towards industrialising their two different processing routes.
Working towards a sustainable future
Low-voltage circuit breakers minimise losses from friction. The Circuitbreakers project enables smart and sustainable grid solutions, for the distribution and industrial sectors, by utilising water-based electroplating processing, carbon-based components and recyclable materials.
About the Spearhead Projects
The Spearhead Projects are initiatives designed to increase the technology readiness level (TRL) of graphene-based technologies. Each Spearhead Project is led by an industry-leading company and has specific commercial goals. They each aim to produce a high-TRL prototype or market-ready product by the end of the current phase of the Graphene Flagship in 2023.
The Graphene Flagship’s commitment to the Spearhead Projects is unshakeable: a total of one third of our funding is invested into these ventures, a bold move to maximise the impact of the Graphene Flagship in the innovation ecosystem and the European economy.