Research at the University of Münster has stated a goal of finding a ‘sustainable, intra-european supply chain for synthetic graphite’.
What does this mean?
The research project dubbed ‘CarbForBatt’ will aim to support the development of tailor-made carbons for high energy anodes. In the EV (electric vehicle) industry, the majority of batteries require graphite anodes. An anode is the negative electrode involved in batteries.
Because this is such a crucial part of the electric vehicle supply chain, researchers are trying to tackle the elements of high energy usage and pollution caused in the production of graphite:
Natural and synthetic graphite has to be imported primarily from non-EU countries. This is accompanied by environmental pollution during mining of natural graphite, and very high energy consumption during production of synthetic graphite
[Tobias Placke – Research Manager – Media Statement]
To tackle this issue, the research project will identify precursor materials for synthetic graphite, which consist mostly of industrial waste and bi-products.
The carbon precursors will be graphitised in an inductively heated furnace, at temperatures between 2,700 and 3,000 degrees.
Because battery grade graphite has such particular requirements, this is a challenge.
Processes such as particle sifting, rounding processes and surface modifications will be necessary.
This is fantastic news for the graphite industry, as it hints at the promise of sustainability throughout the manufacturing process.
Martin Winter, scientific director of the university’s MEET Battery Research Center has stated that on top of improving the sustainability of these materials, the project is improving the electrochemical performance of the anodes.
This is due to a focus on optimisation of processes that produce graphite-silicone high energy anodes.
We hope to see more research projects like this crop up over the coming years.