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April 20, 2018 | Graphene: Promise Unfolding or Illusion Revisited?

Mike 'Mish' Shedlock

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.
Graphene, a rage that fizzled, is back in the news. Will it fare better this time?

Graphene is an allotrope (form) of carbon consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It is the basic structural element of many other allotropes of carbon, such as graphite, diamond, charcoal, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes.

Graphene Properties

  • It is the strongest material ever tested
  • It efficiently conducts heat and electricity
  • It is nearly transparent.
  • It shows a large and nonlinear diamagnetism, greater than that of graphite, and can be levitated by neodymium magnets.

Graphene Structure

Graphene is an atomic-scale hexagonal lattice made of carbon atoms. It transmits heat and electricity far better than copper.

What’s Not to Like?

That article is from 2014.

It’s a fascinating article on how graphene was discovered and the problems working with it.

It’s lengthy but well worth a read regarding amazing accidents as well as the difficulties involved in producing the stuff.

Once-Hot Material Returns

If we flash forward to today, Bloomberg reports Once-Hot Material Graphene Could Be Next Battery Breakthrough.

Remember graphene? The advanced material — made up of a lattice of carbon atoms — may be poised for a comeback, albeit a quiet one, Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Julia Attwood said in a presentation at the BNEF Future of Energy Summit on Tuesday.

Super lightweight, highly conductive of heat and electricity and, pound for pound, stronger than steel, it was all the rage a decade ago. In 2010, the scientists who first extracted it won the Nobel Prize in Physics. “The perfect atomic lattice,” the announcement gushed.

In November, the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology announced that its researchers had developed a “graphene ball,” a material that would allow lithium-ion batteries to charge five times faster and have 45 percent more capacity. That alone could have big impact on both consumer electronics and the automotive industries.

“People are concerned about the comparison of filling up the gas tank and charging your car battery,” Attwood said. “Suddenly that’s not a problem because you only have to stop for 10 minutes and you can get another 200, 300 miles out of your car.”

Given its wild ride in the past decade, graphene also offers a unique case study in how startups in emerging technologies can withstand fickle public interest. One company, Skeleton Technologies, of Estonia, has zeroed in on energy storage — “an industry that needs innovation at any cost,” Attwood says. Another company, Applied Graphene Materials, raised $18 million in an initial public offering. “Their stock price has dropped off a lot, but they’re an established name in the industry now and are ready to ride a graphene resurgence,” Attwood said.

One day, graphene might enable all sorts of cool gadgets — from bendy phones to magazines that connect to the Internet. Until then, it’ll probably keep on improving things quietly, very differently from its moment in the limelight a decade ago.

Graphene Balls

Recently, a team of researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) developed a “graphene* ball,” a unique battery material that enables a 45% increase in capacity, and five times faster charging speeds than standard lithium-ion batteries. The breakthrough provides promise for the next generation secondary battery market, particularly related to mobile devices and electric vehicles. In its research, SAIT collaborated closely with Samsung SDI as well as a team from Seoul National University’s School of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Creative Destruction

I am asked all the time, “where will new jobs come from?”

I do not know, nor does anyone else. But I have long thought that an advancement in energy would be the ticket.

This could be it, or it could be solar, or perhaps medical.

Although driverless cars and trucks will destroy millions of jobs, just because we cannot identify where the new jobs will come from does not mean they will not come.

This is of course little consolation for those who are displaced and untrained.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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April 20th, 2018

Posted In: Mish Talk

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