Developed an advanced niobium-graphene battery with an unprecedented 30 year lifecycle


May 22, 2023

(Nanowerk News) Batteries play an important role in powering many modern devices, such as cell phones, pacemakers and electric vehicles. However, traditional lithium-ion batteries pose limitations such as safety risks, short life cycles and long charging times. The pioneering niobium-graphene battery developed by the Center for Advanced 2D Materials (CA2DM) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), an innovator in research into graphene and other 2D (2D) materials, and CBMM, a global leader in niobium products and technologies, will solve all these problems.

The battery is being tested at the new CBMM-CA2DM Advanced Battery Laboratory launched today by NUS and CBMM and established with a joint investment of USD3.8 million (S$5 million) over three years, supported by the National Research Foundation, Singapore.

“The CBMM-CA2DM State-of-the-art Battery Lab is Singapore’s most high-tech and well-equipped facility for exploring new frontiers in battery technology. The lab provides researchers with state-of-the-art equipment to create new solid electrolytes, create various cell shapes, and ultimately test their innovations. We have made significant progress in the development of our niobium-graphene battery which is proving to be a game changer in terms of safety, efficiency and sustainability,” said Professor Antonio H. Castro Neto, Director of CA2DM.

Rethink battery capacity

The pioneering niobium-graphene battery has been shown to provide better performance and safety compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries. In addition, the volatile and flammable liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries will be replaced by a niobium-containing solid electrolyte, further enhancing the safety and energy density of the new batteries.

The benefits of niobium-graphene batteries include:

Niobium serves as the main active ingredient in the negative electrode of a battery while also being used as an additive in the positive electrode. Graphene, on the other hand, is used in negative and positive electrodes to increase electronic conductivity and structural stability. At the negative electrode, the unique crystal structure of the niobium material facilitates fast charging without destroying the structure. At the positive electrode, niobium material can increase ionic conductivity and protect the active ingredient from degradation. In addition, the low-density nature of graphene significantly increases the electronic conductivity of the two electrodes without reducing the overall energy density of the battery.

The final prototype of the niobium-graphene battery is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024.

“Due to a longer lifespan, the new graphene-niobium battery significantly reduces the total cost of ownership compared to existing lithium-ion batteries and has ultra-fast charging capabilities. In addition, they offer higher safety as there is no risk of explosion even in high temperatures,” said Rogerio Ribas, Global Head of Battery at CBMM. “The first battery to combine the application of niobium on the cathode and anode, they also have advantages such as higher input and output power, a wider operating temperature range and higher charging conditions so that they can be developed for certain markets such as commercial and industrial applications including regenerative braking systems for hybrid vehicles (rail, truck, and passenger cars), heavy-duty applications, intralogistics, cordless power tools, among others,” added Ribas.

The new laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for the research and manufacture of advanced niobium-based batteries and solid electrolytes. Due to their high performance capabilities, niobium-graphene batteries have wide potential applications, including medical devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators, and aerospace equipment, such as satellites and spacecraft, all of which require long life cycles and high security. . standard. Other potential applications include electric vehicles, and consumer electronics.

“With the growing need for sustainable and high-performance energy solutions, the CBMM-CA2DM Advanced Battery Lab marks a strong partnership between enterprise and research with exciting real-world applications. At NUS, we are constantly striving to push the boundaries of innovation, and we look forward to the lab’s new contributions to science and technology, and industry,” said Professor Chen Tsuhan, Vice President of NUS (Innovation and Enterprise), and Chair of the CA2DM Board.

Ready for further breakthroughs in battery technology

The CBMM-CA2DM Advanced Battery Lab is the first of its kind in Singapore to be equipped end-to-end for customized battery manufacture and testing. Key features of the lab include an electrolyte processing unit, and a dry room with humidity as low as one percent, which allows handling of moisture-sensitive battery materials. The dry room also connects seamlessly to a series of glove boxes creating an inert environment for battery assembly. This ensures zero contamination throughout the process.

The lab design also allows thousands of prototypes to be tested per month. The laboratory has state-of-the-art battery testers that can carry out charge and discharge cycles, investigate the mechanism of action and degradation, and predict the lifetime of the batteries produced. In addition, the lab has equipment that allows researchers to create different forms of battery cells, such as coin and pocket cells, in different dimensions.

Going forward, the lab aims to test and manufacture more advanced and novel batteries with a variety of materials and interact with local research institutes, faculty and industry to develop cutting-edge technologies in batteries. One of the high-tech targets is to develop solid-state battery technology that doesn’t require flammable liquids inside, making it completely safe. An industrial space will also be created within the lab to allow external companies to develop and test battery prototypes to meet their commercial needs.


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