Hi everyone, welcome back to another Green Tech Thursday!

 

Today we are learning about Graphene.

 

First things first, what is graphene? Graphene is a form of carbon that is one atom thick. Yes, you heard that right. One. Single. Atom. Thick. To put that into perspective, that is 1 million times thinner than a human hair! Graphene is also very dense, yet extremely light, it is a very impressive material. 

 

The practical applications of graphene are very diverse and very good for our future. Lately, researchers have created a 30-nanometre (nm) thick film of graphene which makes use of thermophotovoltaics to turn heat (generated by the sun) into electricity. It does this with very minimal heat loss, generates as much energy as possible from the heat that it harvests. The best part about this project is that it is very scalable and low cost! That is one of the most important aspects of new tech because cost and scalability determine if and when it will be used.

 

Besides energy harvesting, graphene has promising future applications in solar sea-water desalination to create clean, drinkable water. The conversion from solar energy to vapour is an astounding 96.2% effective! This can mean low-cost, and highly effective water access to communities that don’t have drinkable water readily available. Currently, graphene sells for 100$ to 200$ per gram, which sounds expensive but considering how much graphene makes up one gram, you certainly get your money’s worth. 

 

While the above applications of graphene are already revolutionary in terms of energy harvesting and conversion, there are many more pros to this material. Graphene can also be used for infrared light sources, heaters, electronic devices, bulletproof materials, and maybe even an invisibility cloak (because why not)! 

 

Thank you for reading, I hope to see you again next week!

 

Have a wonderful Thursday!

-Stephen

 

Some Links

Graphene solar heating film offers new opportunity for efficient thermal energy harvesting

Novel form of graphene-based optical material developed