XG Sciences CEO Phil Rose gave NGA2D his perspective on the future of the auto industry and graphene. Phil sees numerous opportunities with many players, all facing the same primary issues.
NGA2D asked Phil, “What does the future look like for graphene in the auto industry?”
“The biggest hurdles to adoption are timing (new model introductions take at least 3 years) and cost (the market is extremely cost-sensitive). But I suspect we will see GNPs (graphene nanoplatelets) being used in more and more applications in the automotive market,” he said.
“No easy answer to your question since it is rather open-ended. Strength and weight likely refer to use in composites while storage capacity likely relates to using in batteries. You can probably do search graphene and LiB and read what people are saying about the potential for graphene in batteries. For the most part, the industry is using graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) as a potential conductive additive to the cathode to increase the rate performance.”
“However, GNPs are only one conductive additive from which to choose. CNT and carbon black (of various forms) are two others. All three are often combined, but at fairly low loading levels to the cathode loading, to improve rate performance. The table below gives you some sense of the split among various options for materials used as conductive additives. Carbon black is still the largest and as you can see, GNP is still quite small.”
Graphene In Batteries
“Graphene has also been proposed for use in batteries as a monolayer coating on the electrodes. I’m not sure if that is feasible, commercially, but haven’t really done much work to understand that application as we are not a monolayer company. We, and others, have proposed using graphene/GNP in conjunction with silicon as either an additive to the anode in low loading levels or as a partial replacement for graphite used in the anode. The difference is really just one of the loading levels. However, there are still significant engineering and material challenges (cost, scale, cycle life) to use silicon at any appreciable loading level.”
“Today, most of the commercial activity with silicon is for use of SiOx, where x ~1-1.5 as an additive to the anode in lithium-ion batteries. The trick is to use a material that is between pure silicon (which suffers from swelling and a rapid degradation on cycling) and SiO2, which really doesn’t lithiate and therefore doesn’t swell and degrade on cycling. Major suppliers of SiOx seem to be Hitachi and Shin-Etsu and major users seem to be Panasonic and LG Chem. But I wouldn’t be surprised if others weren’t also getting into the game on both the supply and end-use.”
“Global Graphene has some activity in this space and there are a plethora of academic papers on the topic and start-ups involved in various aspects of the use of silicon. The other proposed use for GNPs in lithium-ion batteries is as a replacement for graphite in the anode. I don’t see that happening. It’s more likely that specialty graphite will emerge like Talga is pursuing.”
“The first cycle efficiency for GNPs is terrible and is fundamental to the surface area being high and I don’t see how to get around that – easily. So in my view, the short term play for ‘graphene’ in batteries is for GNP’s as a cathode conductive additive and the longer-term play is some combination of GNP/graphene and silicon or silicon oxides at low(ish) loading in the anode to increase storage capacity.”
GNPs In The Auto Industry
“There are currently several commercial applications for GNPs in the auto. XG Sciences has 4: polyurethane foam under the hood parts (with Ford); thermal adhesives (EU-based auto manufacturer); engine oil additives (aftermarket via Hella); and lead-acid battery (additive to the anode slurry).”
“We have a few other programs moving to commercial status this year and several others still in the pipeline. I was told by the GEEK guys that VW is using GNP’s in a door panel. However, I have not confirmed that independently. There are many plays for GNPs in auto applications. The biggest hurdles to adoption are timing (new model introductions take at least 3 years) and cost (the market is extremely cost-sensitive). But I suspect we will see GNPs being used in more and more applications in the automotive market.”
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