Australia–China partnership to manufacture graphene cables


Monday, 05 November, 2018


Australia–China partnership to manufacture graphene cables

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney and Hangzhou Cables have formalised a partnership to begin large-scale manufacturing of graphene power cables which will cut electricity costs and improve grid transmission.

Announced during UNSW's Torch Innovation Week, a showcase of Australian and Chinese partnerships, the agreement will move the project into the second stage of development.

In 2016, a $10 million UNSW and Hangzhou Cable Joint Laboratory was opened at the Kensington campus to develop the graphene-based cable technology, which was invented by a UNSW research team led by materials scientist Professor Sean Li.

An initial 10-metre prototype of the technology showed that graphene, a form of carbon, can be used to stop electricity leakage that happens with conventional power cable and grids, which could deliver significant savings in electricity and emissions.

Graphene-copper composite wire developed in phase one of the project reduced resistivity by 3.8%, compared with that of the copper wire within the same area, according to the test results of the National Measurement Institute (NMI) announced by Professor Brian Boyle, UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Enterprise.

An additional $3 million funding boost will transfer laboratory research results into the industrial production of a graphene cable pilot line located in Hangzhou.

Professor Li said the "ultimate goal in phase two is to continue optimising fabrication parameters to increase China's grid transmission efficiency by 5%".

"The technology transfers the low-cost raw materials, such as graphite, into graphene, which forms copper/graphene composite conductors. This not only increases the electrical conductivity but also reduces the use of copper, which means it's more economical and efficient."

He said the successful commercialisation and application of the UNSW technology could save about 275 terawatt hours of power a year across China alone, which is equivalent to Australia's entire annual energy consumption.

The Hangzhou ­Cables project was the first to be unveiled as part of the Torch Precinct in 2016.

"Signing the second phase of this project demonstrates the economic and sustainable impacts our research efforts and global achievements with HCCL in Hangzhou are making," Professor Boyle said.

"This is an example of outstanding and highly relevant research crossing international borders. By accelerating our research efforts in Sydney and scaling them up through HCCL in China and then out to other international markets, we've established a model for many more Australian–Chinese collaborations that will have a global impact."

Other collaborative projects that aim to advance sustainable energy were also signed at the Torch Innovation Week event. Goldwind, a wind turbine technology and energy solutions provider, signed two collaborative projects: the first will produce a simulation for permanent magnet direct driven wind turbine and wind farm, and the second will examine optimising ion removal from water. Kohodo, one of the Torch Precinct’s foundation partners, also signed an agreement with UNSW to develop hydrogen fuel cells valued at $3 million over the next three years.

Professor Boyle said all three projects "fall in different areas of UNSW's research portfolio, but all contribute to innovative energy technology leading towards a cleaner and greener future".

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/PhuchitAunmuang

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