He’s found a new way to make crystalline graphite, which is used to make lithium ion batteries.
Graphite — best known for its use in pencils — is a good conductor of electricity and this new technique doesn’t require the special ingredients normally needed to produce it.
A masters-level student at Curtin University, Mr Jason Fogg, made the surprising discovery while using an Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS) – a piece of equipment invented in Australia in the 1950s and developed to analyse the composition of liquids.
Mr Fogg said that while the science behind why this new technique works still isn’t known, he believes it relates to the specific way the AAS heats the samples through short, fast pulses.
“We used a special furnace that can heat the sample to 3000 degrees Celsius in seconds, something most furnaces cannot achieve,” Mr Fogg said.
“To put the temperature into perspective, 3000 degrees Celsius is equal to about half the surface temperature of the Sun.”
The technique, that will turn some of the most “stubborn” forms of carbon into the useful material, has now been confirmed by scientists in the UK and USA.
Though commercialisation of the process is a way off, the world’s demand for lithium ion batteries is increasing, so scientists expect the higher demand for crystalline graphite will make it more valuable.
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