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A less expensive way to make graphene

By Paul Grad |

A team from RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia; www.rmit.edu.au) and the National Institute of Technology, Warangal (Warangal, India; www.nitw.ac.in) has developed a cost-effective and eco-friendly way of producing graphene using a eucalyptus polyphenol solution extracted from eucalyptus bark. RMIT’s professor Suresh Bhargava says the team’s method could reduce the cost of producing graphene from $100/g to $0.5/g.

The most common method for synthesizing graphene oxide is chemical reduction. This method, however, relies on reducing agents that are dangerous to people and the environment. The team’s method produces graphene with a quality matching the traditionally produced graphene without the toxic reagents.

The reducing ability of polyphenol compounds present in the eucalyptus bark extract is responsible for the reduction of exfoliated graphene oxide to soluble graphene under reflux conditions in an aqueous medium. Transmission electron microscope (TEM) and atomic force microscope (AFM) images show straight corroboration for the development of 1–4 layers of graphene. The team says the stable and homogeneous dispersion of the eucalyptus graphene in various solvents confirms the powerful interactions between eucalyptus polyphenol compounds and graphene.

Various methods to evaluate the electrochemical performance of the eucalyptus graphene have shown that the eucalyptus graphene supercapacitor has a high specific capacitance of 239 F/g and a high energy density of 71 Wh/kg at a current density of 2 A/g. These characteristics demonstrate that the team’s green approach has an excellent prospect, not only in the fabrication of high-performance supercapacitors, but also in the synthesis of graphene-based materials.

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