How Lockheed Martin’s and Elcora Advanced Materials (Graphene) Partnership may Revolutionize Military “driverless vehicles” and Lithium-Ion Batteries


Elcora 2 BG-3-elcora

Maintaining a global supply chain is one of the most secretive and understated keys to the success of a military campaign. As described by the U.S. Army, the quick and efficient transport of goods like water, food, fuel, and ammunition has been essential in winning wars for thousands of years. Supply chain and logistics management has evolved to include, “storage of goods, services, and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption”. In essence, that means the movement of vehicles bringing precious cargo from the home base to the soldiers fighting on the front lines.

Security and strategic operations are critical elements in the fulfillment of this potentially hazardous supply chain. Enemy forces hiding in the bushes can open fire to try to slow down the troops’ movement. With mines littered all over the war zone, all it would take is one wrong step, and the truck and the people in them, would be blown to smithereens.

One ingenious solution is the deployment of an automated military convoy run by a military commander, which can reduce risks and their accompanying vulnerabilities. In line with this, advanced defense contractor Lockheed Martin Canada (NYSE:LMT) has successfully tested “driverless trucks” on two active U.S. military bases.

Call it the soldier’s equivalent of a smart fleet of cars that would take the currently popular concept of self-driving vehicles to a whole new, safer level. Human operators would still be needed to guide the vehicles towards their destinations. However, because this could be accomplished remotely, very little time would be lost to the exchange of hostilities, as these smart military vehicles would be impervious to the enemy’s usual attempts at distraction. And in case firepower does break out, the loss of life, as well as injury to the troops, would be minimal.

The memorandum of agreement signed between Elcora and Lockheed Martin, is not the usual corporate alliance but bears important long-term repercussions for sectors such as transport, security, and the military-industrial complex. Lockheed Martin is a leviathan in the aerospace, defense, weaponry, and other technologies that have been instrumental in keeping many of the nations of the world safe. elcora-advanced-materials 3

The Lithium-ion (or Li-ion) batteries that it uses to store energy in many of its technologies and processes are critical to upholding the operations being conducted in many of its devices, plants, and facilities. The more energy that these batteries can store, the longer the systems and machines can function, without interruption, and in compliance with the highest standards of safety.

This is where Elcora comes in. The future of military supply chain and logistics management is accelerating thanks to Lockheed’s recently signed partnership with end-to-end graphene producer Elcora Advanced Materials (TXSV:ERAOTC:ECORF).

Elcora graphene-uses 1One element that can ensure the consistent and reliable powering up for the Li-ion batteries is graphene, an element derived from graphite minerals. Elcora is one of the few companies that produce and distribute graphene in one dynamic end-to-end operation, from the time that the first rocks are mined in Sri Lanka, to the time that they are refined, developed, and purified in the company’s facilities in Canada. The quality of the graphene that comes out of Elcora’s pipeline is higher than those usually found in the market. This pristine quality can help the Li-ion batteries increase their storage of power without adding further cost.

Li-ion batteries are already being sought after for prolonging the lifespan of power charged in a wide range of devices, from the ubiquitous smartphones, to the electric cars that innovators like Elon Musk are pushing to become more mainstream in our roads and highways. Lockheed Martin will also be using them in the military vehicles that will be guided by their Autonomous Mobility Applique Systems (AMAS), or the ‘driverless military convoy’, as described above. The tests have shown that these near-smart vehicles have already clocked in 55,000 miles. Lockheed is looking forward to completing the tests and fast-forwarding to deploying them for actual use in military campaigns.

Rice Chart for LiIo Batts 2-riceuscienti

The importance of long-lasting Li-ion batteries in the kind of combat arena that Lockheed Martin is expert in cannot be overestimated. With electric storage given a lengthier lifespan by the graphene anode in the batteries, the military commanders guiding the smart convoys do not have to fear any anticipated technical breakdown. They can also count on the batteries to sustain the vehicles’ power and carry them through to the completion of their mission if something unexpected happens. The juice in those Li-ion batteries will last longer, which is critical in crises such as the sudden appearance of combatants.

Sometimes, the winner in war turns out to be the force that is the more resilient and sustaining power. As the ancient Chinese master of war Sun Tzu had warned eons ago, sometimes “the line between order and disorder”—or victory or defeat—“lies in logistics.” Through its graphene-constituted Li-ion batteries, The Lockheed Martin-Elcora alliance can certainly enhance any military force’s capacity in that area.

* Article from Technology.org

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What Happens when Graphene is “twisted” into spirals—researchers synthesize helical nanographen – demonstrates outstanding charge and heat transport properties


Heli grapheneThis visualisation shows layers of graphene used for membranes. Credit: University of Manchester

It’s probably the smallest spring you’ve ever seen. Researchers from Kyoto University and Osaka University report for the first time in the Journal of the American Chemical Society the successful synthesis of hexa-peri-hexabenzo[7]helicene, or helical nanographene. These graphene constructs previously existed only in theory, so successful synthesis offers promising applications including nanoscale induction coils and molecular springs for use in nanomechanics.

Graphene, a hexagonal lattice of single-layer carbon atoms exhibiting outstanding charge and heat transport properties, has garnered extensive research and development interest. Helically twisted graphenes have a spiral shape. Successful synthesis of this type of  could have major applications, but its model compounds have never been reported. And while past research has gotten close, resulting compounds have never exhibited the expected properties.

“We processed some basic chemical  through step-by-step reactions, such as McMurry coupling, followed by stepwise photocyclodehydrogenation and aromatization,” explains first author Yusuke Nakakuki. “We then found that we had synthesized the foundational backbone of helical graphene.”

The team confirmed the helicoid nature of the structure through X-ray crystallography, also finding both clockwise and counter-clockwise nanographenes. Further tests showed that the electronic structure and photoabsorption properties of this compound are much different from previous ones. “This helical nanographene is the first of its kind,” concludes lead author Kenji Matsuda. “We will try to expand their surface area and make the helices longer. I expect to find many new physical properties as well.”

The paper, titled “Hexa-peri-hexabenzo[7]helicene: Homogeneously π-Extended Helicene as a Primary Substructure of Helically Twisted Chiral Graphenes,” appeared 19 March 2018 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

(From Phys.org)

 Explore further: Synthesis of a water-soluble warped nanographene and its application for photo-induced cell death

More information: Yusuke Nakakuki et al, Hexa-peri-hexabenzo[7]helicene: Homogeneously π-Extended Helicene as a Primary Substructure of Helically Twisted Chiral Graphenes, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2018). DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b13412

BREAKTHROUGH DISCOVERY – NEW GRAPHENE BIOMATERIAL REGENERATES HEART AND NERVE TISSUE


One of the biggest challenges to the recovery of someone who has experienced a major physical trauma such as a heart attack is the growth of scar tissue.

As scar tissue builds up in the heart, it can limit the organ’s functions, which is obviously a problem for recovery.

However, researchers from the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research (AMBER) Centre have revealed a new biomaterial that actually ‘grows’ healthy tissue – not only for the heart, but also for people with extensive nerve damage.

In a paper published to Advanced Materials, the team said its biomaterial regenerating tissue responds to electrical stimuli and also eliminates infection.

The new material developed by the multidisciplinary research team is composed of the protein collagen, abundant in the human body, and the atom-thick ‘wonder material’ graphene.

The resulting merger creates an electroconductive ‘biohybrid’, combining the beneficial properties of both materials and creating a material that is mechanically stronger, with increased electrical conductivity.

This biohybrid material has been shown to enhance cell growth and, when electrical stimulation is applied, directs cardiac cells to respond and align in the direction of the electrical impulse.

Could repair spinal cord

It is able to prevent infection in the affected area because the surface roughness of the material – thanks to graphene – results in bacterial walls being burst, simultaneously allowing the heart cells to multiply and grow.

For those with extensive nerve damage, current repairs are limited to a region only 2cm across, but this new biomaterial could be used across an entire affected area as it may be possible to transmit electrical signals across damaged tissue.

Speaking of the breakthrough, Prof Fergal O’Brien, deputy director and lead investigator on the project, said: “We are very excited by the potential of this material for cardiac applications, but the capacity of the material to deliver physiological electrical stimuli while limiting infection suggests it might have potential in a number of other indications, such as repairing damaged peripheral nerves or perhaps even spinal cord.

“The technology also has potential applications where external devices such as biosensors and devices might interface with the body.”

The study was led by AMBER researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in partnership with Trinity College Dublin and Eberhard Karls University in Germany.

What if you discovered an Amazing new Material? (The story of) Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World


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From National Graphene Association: News

With permission from the authors, Les Johnson and Joseph E. Meany, the preface of their new book, Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World, follows. The book was published by Prometheus Books this month, and is available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at an independent bookstore near you.

“What if you discovered an infinitesimally thin material capable of con­ducting electricity, able to suspend millions of times its own weight, and yet porous enough to filter the murkiest water? And what if this substance was created from the same element as that filling the common pencil? This extraordinary material, graphene, is not a work of science fiction. A growing cadre of scientists aims to make graphene a mainstay technological material by the second half of the twenty-first century. Not satisfied with that timeline, some entrepreneurial types would like to see widespread adoption of graphene within the next decade. How could this be possible?

Graphene is elegant. It is created from a single element, carbon, formed by just one type of bond. Despite graphene’s apparent simplicity, isolating the material was an elusive “Holy Grail” for chemists and physicists alike. Even as the periodic table extended beyond the hundred-odd elements naturally found on Earth, galaxies were charted, and the human genome solved, this material, with the simple chemical formula of C, remained a distant goal at the frontiers of science. Why was this? Graphene excels at hiding in plain sight, and the techniques and instrumentation perfected in the last two decades have played a pivotal role in its discovery.

Carbon, the sole constituent of graphene, is all around us. The element is the fourth most common in the entire universe. Most people think of materials in terms of atoms and molecules, where molecules are made from defined types and numbers of atoms. With graphene, counting carbon atoms is inconsequential. Merely the way in which the constituent carbons are bound to one another is crucial, with this feature separating graphene from other wholly carbon materials like diamonds and graphite. At the atomic level, the exclusively carbon graphene resembles a hexagonal “chicken wire” fence, with each carbon atom making up the point of a hexagon. The hexagonal distribution makes graphene’s earth-shattering properties possible, as the distribution allows the individual carbon atoms of graphene to lay flat.

This property of graphene cannot be overlooked. Graphene is a perfect anomaly in the world of chemistry—a flat, two-dimensional molecule, with a single sheet of graphene measuring only one atom thick. You might imme­diately question the structural integrity of graphene due to its delightfully simplistic construction, but the weaving of the carbon hexagons throughout the structure makes the atomically thin material unexpectedly strong.

Proper application of graphene holds the key to revolutionizing mate­rials technology in the latter half of the twenty-first century, but at what cost? Thankfully, not a substantial environmental one. There is a critical difference between graphene and another linchpin of modern technology, rare-earth metals. These hard-won rare-earth metals, metals including tan­talum, neodymium, and lanthanum, are found everywhere, from the inside of our smartphones to pharmaceuticals. Unlike with rare-earth metals, we do not need armies of manual laborers assisted by heavy equipment and an endless parade of fifty-five gallon drums of polluting solvents to find and retrieve graphene, due to one simple fact: graphene’s elemental con­stituent, carbon, is all around us. The most common precursor of graphene today is the mined mineral graphite. Rare-earth metals are scarce, but the integration of graphene into our lives would not be driven by the acqui­sition of raw materials and disputes between superpowers, but would be guided by the possession of knowledge, with patents and technology sepa­rating the victors and the vanquished.

3D Graphene

You have experienced synthesizing graphene, maybe even earlier today, on a very small scale. The pressure exerted by your hand and finger­tips likely created a few layers of graphene the last time you ran a pencil across a notepad, turning humble graphite into graphene as you wrote this week’s grocery list. But if graphene can be made by such simple means, and its sole constituent, carbon, leads oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen in the hierarchy of elements that construct our living world, why is graphene just now, in the twenty-first century, coming to the forefront of human understanding?

The answer to this question is where the story resides. The story of graphene is a story of accidental discovery. A story of corporations and gov­ernments racing to spend billions of dollars in hopes of funding research and development projects to discover a material still years away from store shelves. A story of new materials that will disrupt the way we create things, and, in doing so, what we can create. The previous technological revolu­tions taught us many things. Each new discovery allowed us to break into new experimental territories and further our understanding of what is pos­sible to accomplish. Chemical batteries allowed energy to be stored for future use (like light at night). Steam power allowed us to generate tremen­dous amounts of energy to accomplish tasks no living thing could. This new revolution may allow us to throw off the shackles of metallic wires.

Graphene020216 NewsImage_34318Since at least the 1950s, people have been trying to take graphite out of the ground and turn it into a pile of black gold. This effort was met with fifty years of resistance from the graphite, which has not so easily been coaxed to divulge its secrets. When graphene was finally isolated and examined, physicists and chemists were astounded at what they found. The history beneath this discovery is not so straightforward, though, and it traces its roots all the way back to 1859 in Great Britain. How appropriate, then, that the country already well-known for its history involving carbon should be the country where single-layer graphite was finally witnessed.

After two researchers in Great Britain, Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010, technology magazines everywhere heralded a new era of “wonder materials” based around this atomically thin tessellation of carbon atoms. With its incred­ibly high strength and almost impossibly low electrical resistance, graphene pulled back a hidden curtain, allowing scientists to catch a glimpse of the marvels that lay beyond. With the shrouds lifted, the groundwork was laid to revolutionize how we will go about designing and making everything from cars to vaccines and from food packaging to spaceships.Fisker-EV-graphene-battery-img_assist-400x225

The economic potential of this material cannot be understated. Being atomically thin, graphene can be incorporated almost seamlessly into any modern product, with appreciable effect. Early investors were burned, however, by entrepreneurs who over-promised and under-delivered on performance aspects for products (especially composites like plastics) that had graphene in them but that did not use graphene in a way that made its incorporation worth the added expense. It was, in some cases, just an added bit of snake oil. As the overall volume from new production methods and the quality of the resulting graphene have both increased with time, we are starting to finally see graphene’s true benefits. Governmental support is higher than ever in many countries, as whomever discovers a high-throughput production method for pristine graphene will reap signifi­cant financial rewards on the world stage.”

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Author, Les Johnson

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Author, Joe Meany

PROTON TRANSPORT IN GRAPHENE SHOWS PROMISE FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY


RESEARCHERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER HAVE DISCOVERED ANOTHER NEW AND UNEXPECTED PHYSICAL EFFECT IN GRAPHENE – MEMBRANES THAT COULD BE USED IN DEVICES TO ARTIFICIALLY MIMIC PHOTOSYNTHESIS.

National Graphene Association

The new findings demonstrated an increase in the rate at which the material conducts protons when it is simply illuminated with sunlight. The ‘photo-proton’ effect, as it has been dubbed, could be exploited to design devices able to directly harvest solar energy to produce hydrogen gas, a promising green fuel. It might also be of interest for other applications, such as light-induced water splitting, photo-catalysis and for making new types of highly efficient photodetectors.

Graphene is a sheet of carbon atoms just one atom thick and has numerous unique physical and mechanical properties. It is an excellent conductor of electrons and can absorb light of all wavelengths.

Researchers recently found that it is also permeable to thermal protons (the nuclei of hydrogen atoms), which means that it might be employed as a proton-conducting membrane in various technology applications.

To find out how light affects the behaviour of protons permeating through the carbon sheet, a team led by Dr Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo and Professor Sir Andre Geim fabricated pristine graphene membranes and decorated them on one side with platinum nanoparticles. The Manchester scientists were surprised to find that the proton conductivity of these membranes was enhanced 10 times when they were illuminated with sunlight.

Dr Lozada-Hidalgo said: “By far the most interesting application is producing hydrogen in an artificial photosynthetic system based on these membranes.”

Prof Geim is also optimistic: “This is essentially a new experimental system in which protons, electrons and photons are all packed together in an atomically thin volume. I am sure that there is a lot of new physics to be unearthed, and new applications will follow.”

img_0455Scientists around the world are busy looking into how to directly use solar energy to produce renewable fuels (such as hydrogen) by mimicking photosynthesis in plants. These man-made ‘leaves’ will require membranes with very sophisticated properties – including mixed proton-electron conductivity, permeability to gases, mechanical robustness and optical transparency.

Currently, researchers use a mixture of proton and electron-conducting polymers to make such structures, but these require some important trade-offs that could be avoided by using graphene.

Using electrical measurements and mass spectrometry, the researchers say that they measured a photoresponsivity of around 104 A/W, which translates into around 5000 hydrogen molecules being formed in response to every solar photon (light particle) incident on the membrane. This is a huge number if compared with the existing photovoltaic devices where many thousands of photons are needed to produce just a single hydrogen molecule.

“We knew that graphene absorbs light of all frequencies and that it is also permeable to protons, but there was no reason for us to expect that the photons absorbed by the material could enhance the permeation rate of protons through it.” says Lozada-Hidalgo.

“The result is even more surprising when we realised that the membrane was many orders of magnitude more sensitive to light than devices that are specifically designed to be light-sensitive. Examples of such devices include commercial photodiodes or those made from novel 2D materials.”

Photodetectors typically harvest light to produce just electricity but graphene membranes produce both electricity and, as a by-product, hydrogen. The speed at which they respond to light in the microsecond range is faster than most commercial photodiodes.

The authors acknowledge support from the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, EPSRC (EP/ N010345/1), the European Research Council ARTIMATTER project (ERC-2012-ADG) and from Graphene Flagship. M.L.-H. acknowledges a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.

Source: The University of Manchester

Designing a Graphene Filter to make Seawater Drinkable and … Cheaper


Seawater drinking water imagesAs drinking water grows scarce, desalination might be one way to bridge the gap.

 

A new study released earlier this week in the journal Nature Nanotechnology may be a major step towards making desalinated water—water in which salt is removed to make it safe for drinking—a viable option for more of the world. Researchers from the University of Manchester modified graphene oxide membranes, a type of selectively permeable membrane that allows some molecules to pass while keeping others behind, to let water through while trapping salt ions. It’s essentially a molecular sieve.

Finding new sources of fresh water is important, because roughly 20 percent of the world’s population—1.2 billion people—lack access to clean drinking water, according to the United Nations. It’s a number that’s expected to grow as populations increase and existing water supplies dwindle, in part due to climate change. This reality has led some to suggest that the world’s next “gold rush” will be for water. Others have a less sanguine approach, worrying that the wars of the future will be fought over water. And this concern is not without merit: the war currently raging in Yemen is linked, at least in part, to water conflicts. All the Water we have Energy-recovery-desalination-1

 

But while fresh water is scarce (a scant three percent of the world’s water is fresh) water itself is not. The Earth is more than 70 percent water, but 97 percent is undrinkable because it’s either salt or brackish (a mix of salt and fresh water). The occasional gulp of seawater while swimming aside, drinking saltwater is dangerous for humans—it leads to dehydration and eventually death. Hence the famous lined from the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner: “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

Desalination could be a solution. After all, the technique is already employed in parts of the Middle East and the Cayman Islands. However, the two techniques currently employed—multi-stage flash distillation, which flash heats a portion of the water into steam through a series of heat exchanges, and reverse osmosis, which uses a high-pressure pump to push sea water through reverse osmosis membranes to remove ions and particles from drinking water—have several key drawbacks.

“Current desalination methods are energy intensive and produce adverse environmental impact,” wrote Ram Devanathan a researcher at the Energy and Environment Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in an op-ed that accompanied the study. “Furthermore, energy production consumes large quantities of water and creates wastewater that needs to be treated with further energy input.”

Graphene oxide membranes show promise as a relatively inexpensive alternative, because they can be cheaply produced in a lab—and though water easily passes through them, salts do not. However, when immersed in water on a large-scale, graphene oxide membranes tend to quickly swell. Once swollen, the membranes not only allow water to pass through, but also sodium and magnesium ions, i.e. salt, defeating the purpose of the filtration.

Study author Rahul Nair and his colleagues discovered that by placing walls made of epoxy resin on either side of the graphene oxide, they could stop the expansion. And by restricting the membranes with resin, they were able to fine tune their capillary size to prevent any errant salts from hitching a ride on water molecules.

The next step will be testing it on an industrial scale to see if the method holds up. If it works, many people might just be drinking (a glass of water) to it.

Update: Australia’s CSIRO – Tiny (graphene) membrane key to safe drinking water for billions of people around the World


Sydney-harbour

Sydney’s iconic harbour has played a starring role in the development of new CSIRO technology that could save lives around the world.

Using their own specially designed form of graphene, ‘Graphair’, CSIRO scientists have supercharged water purification, making it simpler, more effective and quicker.

The new filtering technique is so effective, water samples from Sydney Harbour were safe to drink after passing through the filter.

The breakthrough research was published today in Nature Communications.

“Almost a third of the world’s population, some 2.1 billion people, don’t have clean and safe drinking water,” the paper’s lead author, CSIRO scientist Dr Dong Han Seo said. CSIRO Membrane download

“As a result, millions — mostly children — die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene every year.

“In Graphair we’ve found a perfect filter for water purification. It can replace the complex, time consuming and multi-stage processes currently needed with a single step.”

While graphene is the world’s strongest material and can be just a single carbon atom thin, it is usually water repellent.

Using their Graphair process, CSIRO researchers were able to create a film with microscopic nano-channels that let water pass through, but stop pollutants.

As an added advantage Graphair is simpler, cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly than graphene to make.

It consists of renewable soybean oil, more commonly found in vegetable oil.

Looking for a challenge, Dr Seo and his colleagues took water samples from Sydney Harbour and ran it through a commercially available water filter, coated with Graphair.

Researchers from QUT, the University of Sydney, UTS, and Victoria University then tested and analysed its water purification qualities.

The breakthrough potentially solves one of the great problems with current water filtering methods: fouling.

Over time chemical and oil based pollutants coat and impede water filters, meaning contaminants have to be removed before filtering can begin. Tests showed Graphair continued to work even when coated with pollutants.

Without Graphair, the membrane’s filtration rate halved in 72 hours.

When the Graphair was added, the membrane filtered even more contaminants (99 per cent removal) faster.

“This technology can create clean drinking water, regardless of how dirty it is, in a single step,” Dr Seo said.

“All that’s needed is heat, our graphene, a membrane filter and a small water pump. We’re hoping to commence field trials in a developing world community next year.”

CSIRO image-20160204-3020-1rpo9r8CSIRO is looking for industry partners to scale up the technology so it can be used to filter a home or even town’s water supply.

It’s also investigating other applications such as the treatment of seawater and industrial effluents.

 

Story Source:

Materials provided by CSIRO AustraliaNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dong Han Seo, Shafique Pineda, Yun Chul Woo, Ming Xie, Adrian T. Murdock, Elisa Y. M. Ang, Yalong Jiao, Myoung Jun Park, Sung Il Lim, Malcolm Lawn, Fabricio Frizera Borghi, Zhao Jun Han, Stephen Gray, Graeme Millar, Aijun Du, Ho Kyong Shon, Teng Yong Ng, Kostya Ostrikov. Anti-fouling graphene-based membranes for effective water desalinationNature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-02871-3

Eco-Friendly Desalination using MOF’s could Supply the Lithium needed to Manufacture Batteries required to Mainstream EV’s


A new water purification (desalination) technology could be the key to more electric cars. How?

“Eco-Friendly Mining” of world’s the oceans for the vast amounts of lithium required for EV batteries, could “mainstream” our acceptance (affordability and accessibility) of Electric Vehicles and provide clean water – forecast to be in precious short supply in many parts of the World in the not so distant future.

energy_storage_2013-042216-_11-13-1Humanity is going to need a lot of lithium batteries if electric cars are going to take over, and that presents a problem when there’s only so much lithium available from conventional mines.

A potential solution is being researched that turns the world’s oceans into eco-friendly “Lithium supply mines.”

Scientists have outlined a desalination technique that would use metal-organic frameworks (sponge-like structures with very high surface areas) with sub-nanometer pores to catch lithium ions while purifying ocean water.

The approach mimics the tendency of cell membranes to selectively dehydrate and carry ions, leaving the lithium behind while producing water you can drink.

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While the concept of extracting lithium from our oceans certainly isn’t new, this new technology method would be much more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Instead of tearing up the landscape to find mineral deposits, battery makers would simply have to deploy enough filters.

It could even be used to make the most of water when pollution does take place — recovering lithium from the waste water at shale gas fields.

This method will require more research and development before it’s ready for real-world use.

However, the implications are already clear. If this desalination approach reaches sufficient scale, the world would have much more lithium available for electric vehicles, phones and other battery-based devices. It would also reduce the environmental impact of those devices. storedot-ev-battery-21-889x592 (1)

While some say current lithium mining practices negates some of the eco-friendliness of an EV, this “purification for Lithium” approach could let you drive relatively guilt-free

Reposted from Jonathan Fingas – Engadget

An Ultra-Thin – Wearable Health Monitor made possible by a ‘Graphene Ink Tattoo’ designed and developed at the University of Texas at Austin


University of Texas at Austin. This is the world’s thinnest wearable Health Monitor, designed and developed by the researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, in the form of a “Graphene-Ink Tattoo”.

Most health monitors in use today are bulky and tend to restrict patients movements. This graphene tattoo will eliminate these restrictions. It picks up electric signal given off by the body and transmits it to a smartphone app.

Watch the Video:

Abstract: Tattoo-like epidermal sensors are an emerging class of truly wearable electronics, owing to their thinness and softness. While most of them are based on thin metal films, a silicon membrane, or nanoparticle-based printable inks, we report sub-micrometer thick, multimodal electronic tattoo sensors that are made of graphene.UT Autin Graphene Ink Tattoo maxresdefault (2)

The graphene electronic tattoo (GET) is designed as filamentary serpentines and fabricated by a cost- and time-effective “wet transfer, dry patterning” method. It has a total thickness of 463 ± 30 nm, an optical transparency of ∼85%, and a stretchability of more than 40%.

The GET can be directly laminated on human skin just like a temporary tattoo and can fully conform to the microscopic morphology of the surface of skin viajust van der Waals forces. The open-mesh structure of the GET makes it breathable and its stiffness negligible. A bare GET is able to stay attached to skin for several hours without fracture or delamination.

Wearable Health Patches 150929112030_1_540x360With liquid bandage coverage, a GET may stay functional on the skin for up to several days. As a dry electrode, GET–skin interface impedance is on par with medically used silver/silver-chloride (Ag/AgCl) gel electrodes, while offering superior comfort, mobility, and reliability. GET has been successfully applied to measure electrocardiogram (ECG), electromyogram (EMG), electroencephalogram (EEG), skin temperature, and skin hydration.

Read More Here

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Rice University Expands LIG (laser induced graphene) Research and Applications: Supercapacitor, an Electrocatalyst for Fuel Cells, RFID’s and Biological Sensors


J Tour Graphene on Toast 162948_webIMAGE: THIS IS RICE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDENT YIEU CHYAN, LEFT, AND PROFESSOR JAMES TOUR. view more  CREDIT: JEFF FITLOW/RICE UNIVERSITY

Rice University scientists who introduced laser-induced graphene (LIG) have enhanced their technique to produce what may become a new class of edible electronics.

The Rice lab of chemist James Tour, which once turned Girl Scout cookies into graphene, is investigating ways to write graphene patterns onto food and other materials to quickly embed conductive identification tags and sensors into the products themselves.

“This is not ink,” Tour said. “This is taking the material itself and converting it into graphene.”

The process is an extension of the Tour lab’s contention that anything with the proper carbon content can be turned into graphene. In recent years, the lab has developed and expanded upon its method to make graphene foam by using a commercial laser to transform the top layer of an inexpensive polymer film.

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Laser-Induced graphene supercapacitors may be the future of wearables

The foam consists of microscopic, cross-linked flakes of graphene, the two-dimensional form of carbon. LIG can be written into target materials in patterns and used as a supercapacitor, an electrocatalyst for fuel cells, radio-frequency identification (RFID) antennas and biological sensors, among other potential applications.

The new work reported in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano demonstrated that laser-induced graphene can be burned into paper, cardboard, cloth, coal and certain foods, even toast.

“Very often, we don’t see the advantage of something until we make it available,” Tour said. “Perhaps all food will have a tiny RFID tag that gives you information about where it’s been, how long it’s been stored, its country and city of origin and the path it took to get to your table.”

He said LIG tags could also be sensors that detect E. coli or other microorganisms on food. “They could light up and give you a signal that you don’t want to eat this,” Tour said. “All that could be placed not on a separate tag on the food, but on the food itself.”

Multiple laser passes with a defocused beam allowed the researchers to write LIG patterns into cloth, paper, potatoes, coconut shells and cork, as well as toast. (The bread is toasted first to “carbonize” the surface.) The process happens in air at ambient temperatures.

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“In some cases, multiple lasing creates a two-step reaction,” Tour said. “First, the laser photothermally converts the target surface into amorphous carbon. Then on subsequent passes of the laser, the selective absorption of infrared light turns the amorphous carbon into LIG. We discovered that the wavelength clearly matters.”

The researchers turned to multiple lasing and defocusing when they discovered that simply turning up the laser’s power didn’t make better graphene on a coconut or other organic materials. But adjusting the process allowed them to make a micro supercapacitor in the shape of a Rice “R” on their twice-lased coconut skin.

Defocusing the laser sped the process for many materials as the wider beam allowed each spot on a target to be lased many times in a single raster scan. That also allowed for fine control over the product, Tour said. Defocusing allowed them to turn previously unsuitable polyetherimide into LIG.

“We also found we could take bread or paper or cloth and add fire retardant to them to promote the formation of amorphous carbon,” said Rice graduate student Yieu Chyan, co-lead author of the paper. “Now we’re able to take all these materials and convert them directly in air without requiring a controlled atmosphere box or more complicated methods.”

The common element of all the targeted materials appears to be lignin, Tour said. An earlier study relied on lignin, a complex organic polymer that forms rigid cell walls, as a carbon precursor to burn LIG in oven-dried wood. Cork, coconut shells and potato skins have even higher lignin content, which made it easier to convert them to graphene.

Tour said flexible, wearable electronics may be an early market for the technique. “This has applications to put conductive traces on clothing, whether you want to heat the clothing or add a sensor or conductive pattern,” he said.

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Rice alumnus Ruquan Ye is co-lead author of the study. Co-authors are Rice graduate student Yilun Li and postdoctoral fellow Swatantra Pratap Singh and Professor Christopher Arnusch of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research supported the research.