A Korean research team has successfully developed a technology to make a sponge-like electrode material using graphene and a polymer, leading to a graphene battery. The newly-developed battery is ten times as small as existing ones, but can show the same product performance.
A research team headed by Park Ho-seok, professor of the School of Chemical Engineering at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), announced on Feb. 1 that it has succeeded in developing a very porous graphene aerogel electrode material by combining polyvinyl alcohol and graphene. Studies on developing high-capacity and rapidly-chargeable batteries are underway worldwide. It is necessary to compress devices in order to supply energy in extreme conditions. However, when existing graphene-based batteries are compressed by 30 percent, product performance suffers owing to the destruction of the inside structure.
A Korean developed battery that can be recharged using body heat has won a Netexplo Award, Unesco’s list of the top 10 digital innovations of the year, the organization said Thursday. A research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Kaist) led by electrical engineering Prof. Cho Byung-jin demonstrated the technology in April.
Netexplo Awards are given annually to tech inventions worldwide that have had a major influence on human lives in areas such as energy, environment and education. About 200 IT experts vote to pick 10 winners.
The battery, which Kaist said can be installed in a wearable device, is the first of its kind that recharges automatically when worn. The battery is made of fiberglass with a thin piece of thermoelectric film and must be attached to the part of the wearable that comes in contact with skin. It can be used in pedometers or smartwatches. After the battery is removed from the heat source, on a simple activity tracker, the Kaist battery will last twice as long as batteries that are currently used. But in a smartwatch, which has a larger display and more functions, the Kaist battery will last up to 30 percent longer once it is not being worn.
South Korea’s top chemical firm LG Chem aims for resurgence with the aggressive investment plan for this year. According to the chemical company on Tuesday, it is planning to invest a total of 1.7 trillion won ($1.5 billion) in major businesses such as petrochemical, information and electronic materials and li-ion batteries this year. The amount of investment is an increase of 13.3 percent from last year’s 1.5 trillion won.
By sector, the company would invest 730 billion won in adding production lines, 300 billion won in research and development and 760 billion won in the existing businesses. If investment in fixed assets and separate personnel expenses are included, research & development investment would climb to a total of 610 billion won. The figure is up 20 billion won from last year. Eyes are on the aggressive investment plan by LG Chem especially as most chemical and oil refining companies are considering freezing or scaling back investment this year.
Choi Hyuk-jae and his younger brother Hyuk-jun together run MycooN Corp., a startup that provides the world’s first smartphone battery sharing service. Through MycooN, which works with up to 70 partners such as mobile dealers in Seoul and Busan, customers can trade off drained smartphone batteries for fully charged ones. The empty batteries will then be charged and passed on to another customer. The brothers said they hope to expand into other regions across the nation.
“My goal is to make every smartphone user ― there are currently around 35 million users in Korea ― receive our services at least once a year,” said the elder Choi in an interview with The Korea Herald. “I don’t think it is such a far-fetched idea since people always want quickly charged batteries.”
The cheap price of 3,000 won per transaction is especially appealing for smartphone users, he said. Extra fees are charged for deliveries based on distance. MycooN conducts voltage tests on the recharged batteries as well as the empty batteries to make sure that they are properly working. The brothers added that initially they use only new and authorized batteries, so there is no need for customers to be concerned about malfunctioning batteries damaging their smartphones. They also spoke of how some people feel uncomfortable with the idea of sharing their batteries with complete strangers.
South Korean carmakers and the government are stepping up research and development (R&D) to build affordable electric-powered vehicles with good range, industry sources said Monday. Sources said the plan is to make electric vehicles (EV) that cost under 30 million won (US$27,900) and travel at least 300 kilometers on a single power charge by 2020.
Seoul has already earmarked 130 billion won to be used until 2018 to make EVs and next-generation energy storage systems so that 75 percent of all rechargeable batteries can be made in the country without foreign assistance. The present self-sufficiency rate stands at around 20 percent. Key to that is the development of a high-density lithium-ion battery, with a master plan to be drawn by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy by March. Making high-endurance, cheap batteries is critical because they account for roughly 60 percent of an EV’s price tag.
At present, EVs made by U.S. carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. have a range of up to 370 kilometers, which is competitive vis-a-vis conventional cars with an internal compression engine, but such EV models have prohibitive sticker prices of $63,000. Tesla reported sales reaching 2,000 units per month.
The competition in the secondary cell battery industry has expanded from mobile devices to electric car, sparking the race for ‘rechargeable battery big bang.’ In the rapidly growing global secondary cell battery market, which expanded 96 percent last year, South Korea, Japan and China are more fiercely competing over attracting personnel, new technology, patents and others.
Since overtaking Japan for the first time in 2011, Korea grabbed the top market share in the global small lithium ion (Li-ion) battery segment of the global rechargeable battery market last year for the third year, said sources in the relevant sector Monday. Japan had been an uncontested top country with 51.1 percent market share in 2008, but the figure has continued to drop to reach 34.3 percent last year. China is the third biggest country with 18.3 percent market share.
Samsung SDI shipped the highest 1.1 billion cells of rechargeable batteries and took the top rank, and LG Chem the third highest 715 million cells. Panasonic retained the second place with 718 million cells, and Sony the fourth with 316 million cells.
LG Chem, a chemical firm and auto parts maker, is said to be on the verge of inking a deal to supply lithium-ion batteries to Chrysler Group, according to market sources Monday. “LG Chem is working on a supply deal with Chrysler, and the outlook is very positive,” an official close to the matter said. He declined to disclose the details, but supply is expected to start as early as this year.
A market source said the batteries made by the LG Group affiliate would likely power a new electric car made by Chrysler, which was recently acquired by Fiat.
LG Chem has been working in tandem with the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, consisting of the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, on developing electric vehicle batteries. The supply deal with Chrysler would be LG’s first such agreement with the U.S. firm.
Samsung SDI has also been participating in the USABC-led battery development project since 2011, and is currently supplying lithium-ion batteries to Chrysler’s F500e. LG Chem is struggling to gain the upper hand in the competition with Samsung SDI and Panasonic, two of its most formidable rivals in the car battery business.
“Korea may not be an attractive market for electric cars considering their lukewarm sales. But for Jeju alone it is a whole new different story,” said a Jeju official. There are some 300,000 vehicles on the roads in Jeju, while the provincial government aims to replace all the cars with electric vehicles by 2030. The 190-kilometer-long road around the island is within the driving range of most electric vehicles on a single charge. And one of the most intriguing factors that have enhanced Jeju’s affinity for EVs is its lavish cash incentives ― the highest-level around the world.
Jeju provides a combined 23 million won ($21,800) in rebates for EV purchase. The amount is almost double those in other countries. The United States and Japan ― the two top-seller markets of electric cars ― offer up to $10,000 and $13,300 (or 1.39 million yen), respectively. In a market dominated by Korean-made models such as Kia Motors’ Ray, GM Spark EV and Renault Samsung’s SM3 Z.E., foreign brands, equipped with more powerful lineups, are expected to secure price competitiveness to become a direct threat to the less sexy, high-priced Korean competitors.
The research group of professors Jang-Wook Choi & Jung-Yong Lee from the Graduate School of EEWS and Taek-Soo Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KAIST has developed technology for flexible and foldable batteries which are rechargeable using solar energy. The research result was published in the online issue of Nano Letters on November 5.
Trial versions of flexible and wearable electronics are being developed and introduced in the market such as Galaxy Gear, Apple’s i-Watch, and Google Glass. Research is being conducted to make the batteries softer and more wearable and to compete in the fast-growing market for flexible electronics.
This new technology is expected to be applied to the development of wearable computers as well as winter outdoor clothing since it is flexible and light. The research group expects that the new technology can be applied to current battery production lines without additional investment. Professor Choi said, “It can be used as a core-source technology in the rechargeable battery industry in the future. Various wearable mobile electronic products can be developed through cooperation and collaboration within the industry.”
Will the day come to travel Seoul-Busan with an electronic vehicle? The core technology for lithium air secondary battery, the next generation high capacity battery, has been finally developed.
A research team formed by KAIST Department of Materials Science’s Professors Il-Doo Kim and Seokwoo Jeon, and Kyonggi University Department of Materials Science’s Professor Yong Joon Park has created a ‘lithium air secondary battery,’ with five times greater storage than the lithium-ion secondary battery, by developing a nano fiber-graphene composite catalyst. The research results are published in Aug. 8th online edition of Nano Letters, an academic journal of authority in the nano fields.
A cathode of a lithium-ion battery consists of graphite and an anode of the battery consists of a lithium transition metal oxide. Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in mobile phones and laptops. However, lithium-ion batteries cannot support electric vehicles, providing energy for only 160 kilometers on one full charge. The lithium air secondary battery just developed by the research team uses lithium on the cathode and oxygen on the anode. It is earning the popular acknowledgement among the next generation secondary battery research community for having lightweight mass and high energy density.