First Graphene locks in IP patent in the US protecting its graphite-based, next-gen battery tech

Thu 27 Oct 22, 1:23pm (AEST)
A smartphone with its back casing removed and batteries visible; supercapacitors may be used in phones in the near future
Source: Unsplash

Key Points

  • First Graphene granted patent in USA for its supercapacitor technology
  • Supercapacitors store energy similar to a battery but deliver at a higher rate; combining one with a battery would vastly improve performance
  • Company has also identified a potential role for graphene supercapacitor tech to reduce oxygen inside fuel cell hybrid EVs

After working with the University of Manchester and privately owned UK-based Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) on plans for a graphene-based supercapacitor, First Graphene (ASX:FGR) has today revealed its receipt of a patent grant in the US for such a technology.

In response, the company’s shares price is up 4.55% to 11.5 cents at noon.

In short: First Graphene is seeking to develop an energy storage technology far superior to anything existing on the market today which would allow unprecedented fast-charging speeds for electronic devices. 

In the long-term vision, the technology can also be included into batteries to vastly increase battery performance, with a particular focus from First Graphene on EV batteries noted today. 

The implication is that, if successfully implemented, the company’s graphene supercapacitor technology could disrupt and revolutionise the EV battery industry wholemeal, by offering a vehicle that could be charged rapidly to full capacity. 

To explain what’s going on in more detail, let’s unpack the basics. 

What is a supercapacitor? 

Capacitors, like batteries, store energy. Batteries differ given that they rely on a chemical interaction between a positive and negative charge (cathode and anode). 

Capacitors, meanwhile, do not rely on chemical interactions. Capacitors store potential energy electrostatically, which sees an insulator put between two plates (negatively and positively charged, like batteries.) 

The ultimate benefit is that capacitors retain energy for longer, as well as charging and discharging energy faster than batteries. However, capacitors tend to hold smaller amounts of charge. 

Supercapacitors, on the other hand, are ‘scaled up’ capacitors, allowing the technology to deliver more power for longer at the levels needed to power electronic devices. 

First Graphene states today the supercapacitor device market is expected to grow from US$409m in 2020 to US$720m in 2025, reflecting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12%. 

The company expects increasing demand for electric vehicles to further boost the scope of the market. 

Add graphene to the equation 

First Graphene highlights research from nanotechnology publication Azo Nano which focused on graphene-based supercapacitors

“Within the next five years, graphene supercapacitors are likely to be utilised in laptops, smartphones, electronics, public transportation, and many other applications due to increased development in terms of energy storage limits," the report said.

This is exactly what First Graphene’s newly granted US patent is protecting. 

Graphene is a nanomaterial made from graphitic carbon which, at the molecular level, produces a thin sheet of graphite made up of small hexagonal-shaped bonds, similar to carbon nanotubes. 

Move over activated carbon 

First Graphene recently proved that graphene is a far superior conductor to activated carbon, often used inside supercapacitors. 

Due to its superior conductivity, a supercapacitor using graphene would be superior to any existing product on the market today. Azo Nano notes the technology could be used in phones, laptops, other electronics, and, if scaled up, in transportation. 

The only issue is that graphene is notoriously difficult to manufacture, but, the company is confident it is approaching a ‘watershed moment.’ And with a patent under its belt, it allows the company to stop looking over its shoulder for competition. 

Scale-up ready: Management 

“First Graphene has made great progress over the UK summer to overcome a range of challenges in earlier test work,” First Graphene CEO Michael Bell said. 

“We are now at the point of being able to scale up the technology from coin cell to pouch cell size for further life cycle testing and optimisation.” 

“This now puts the company in the position to partner with industry and take another step towards commercialisation.” 

A look at First Graphene's three month charts
A look at First Graphene's three month charts


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Written By

Jonathon Davidson

Finance Writer

Jonathon is a journalism graduate and avid market watcher with exposure to governance, NGO and mining environments. He was most recently hired as an oil and gas specialist for a trade publication.

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