Smartphones powered by renewable energy? From today it is no longer science fiction and soon the old lithium batteries could be replaced by brand new graphene batteries, which reduce charge times to a minimum and extend the life of our portable devices. The graphene battery will be light, flexible and very thin, and will allow you to store renewable energy and use it to recharge smartphones and tablets.
Lithium batteries, currently used in our mobile devices, present more than a few problems. First of all, they damage our health and the environment because they can emit over a hundred toxic gases. Furthermore, the extraction of this material has a very high environmental impact as it requires large quantities of water that are often taken away from the population that resides in nearby areas, with a consequent negative social and economic impact. Furthermore, the cathode contained in the lithium battery is composed of cobalt, a highly polluting and difficult to dispose material. This with regard to the environment, not to mention that this type of battery degrades a lot with time, reducing operating times and increasing charging times.
Graphene batteries are produced from graphite, with reduced costs and environmental impact. Graphene is produced in the form of inks, through a process of exfoliation of graphite patented by IIT and thanks to the superposition of successive flexible layers: two sheets of graphite, two porous membranes based on graphene (which have the thickness of an atom and therefore they are very thin) and a polymeric membrane bathed by an electrolyte. The largest European graphite factory is located in Como.
Compared to lithium, graphene batteries have the ability to store energy very quickly, reducing charging periods. Furthermore, the graphene batteries tested so far have shown no signs of degradation, even after 30,000 complete recharging cycles, while a normal battery runs out and already after 400 recharges the level of performance begins to decrease.
To date graphene batteries still have a high production cost, as there is not yet an industrialized process. However, given the enormous potential of this device, it is likely that we will expand production around the world, to the great advantage of our environment and of our smartphones.