AETC’S PARTNERSHIPS GROW TO NEW HEIGHTS
Updated: Oct 10
American Energy Technologies Co. (AETC) achieves great feats that allow it to spearhead the industrial graphite & carbon, ballistic armor, and sustainable energy communities. But, it is important to know that AETC does not always do this alone. With its diversified portfolio of products, AETC strives to develop partnerships with high-profile organizations within the industry and in academia, developing, together with our partners, remarkable innovations that further the industries we proudly serve.
One example is the recent collaboration with Yale University, which was recently featured in Carbon, an international journal reporting research on carbonaceous materials, their production, properties, and applications (Figure 1) via a joint paper, entitled “Influence of Graphite Geography on the Yield of Mechanically Exfoliated Few-Layer Graphene”. In this paper, researchers of Yale University, Michelle G. Barsukov, Cody L. Ritt, Eva M. Syth and Menachem Elimelech, utilizing expertise within AETC, examine the physicochemical properties and exfoliation performance of various types of natural and synthetic graphite sources from around the world. The study establishes the critical nature of graphite sourcing when striving to maximize the yield of mechanically exfoliated few-layer graphene (FLG), essential for producing higher quantities of defect-free FLG for value-added applications, such as next generation water-purification devices and advanced battery systems.
Michelle Barsukov, a first author on the publication, stated, "Working with AETC was critical to the success of this work due to their global knowledge and connections to the graphite industry. In addition, the characterization completed at AETC should not be taken for granted, as their methodologies involved serious analytical work, examining specific mineral impurities in graphite and how they contribute to more successful graphene synthesis. For instance, AETC employed Solid ICP to characterize true spread of impurities in the precursor minerals; not every laboratory can do this with the accuracy required in our work. In addition, AETC's many years of industrial expertise in graphite precursor source selection was essential in this research."
Subsequently to the publication in Carbon, NAATBatt International's Advanced Battery Weekly, Vol. 14 No. 15 April 14, 2023, a prestigious battery industry periodical, described the aforementioned project as follows: “Researchers at American Energy Technologies Company (AETC) and Yale University have discovered that all naturally occurring graphites yield FLG (few-layer graphene) (< 4 layers) when exfoliated, whereas synthetic material did not yield any FLG. The degree to which natural graphite can exfoliate is linked to flake thickness and presence of naturally intercalated impurities (gangue present in ore). Various forms of graphene (including FLG) are used as additives to cathode active materials in lithium-ion and lithium primary batteries, where they are sold at premium prices of 50x the price of graphite precursor.”
In another notable partnership, Dr. Joseph Gnanaraj, AETC's Director of R&D - Renewable Energy Systems, collaborated with Dr. Joseph E. Doninger of Focus Graphite, Kingston, ON, Canada. Their joint paper presented at The Silicon Anode Seminar by Military Power Sources (MPSC), held at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD on March 7-8, 2023 and was entitled “Electrochemical Performance of Silicon-Enhanced Lac Knife Natural Graphite from Quebec, Canada in Lithium-Ion Batteries.” The paper highlights revolutionary energy density improvement in batteries, a desired undertaking by many companies within the industry.
AETC’s Dr. Joe Gnanaraj stated, "We have found an innovative method of planting silicon nanoparticles between the flakes, and rolling them like spherical balls. This innovative approach allows silicon to expand and contract while staying between the flakes of natural graphite to improve the energy density and cycle life of silicon-rich battery anodes. From this work, we can develop a portfolio of commercializeable programs around newly developed improved silicon-enhanced graphite technology. The patented discovery of a new anode active material opens a big door into the future improvement of lithium-ion battery technology. With the innovative methodology of insertion of silicon nanoparticles into graphite spheres, we can now produce other materials using the same innovative approach, creating higher energy density and long cycle life materials. Furthermore, Canadian graphite, sourced by AETC from Lac Knife natural resource, is well positioned to benefit the domestic supply chain. At the time of screening of various candidate feedstocks for the synthesis of silicon-enhanced graphite anodes, Canadian graphite was found to have the highest energy density and very low irreversible capacity.”
Interestingly, this paper was presented in one of the first seminars in a hybrid system, wherein Dr. Gnanaraj presented to the audience from his Arlington Heights, IL office via Zoom while his collaborator Dr. Doninger concurrently appeared on stage in Maryland in person with both co-authors presenting the same talk taking turns. As we exit the era of COVID-19, we can see such hybrid presentation modes continuing into the future.
Finally, AETC has developed a novel class of lightweight penetration-resistant coatings for ballistic armor applications, working with Texas Tech University of Lubbock, TX and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM to characterize their performance under ballistic impact. The composite layers comprise different forms of carbon particles within a polymer matrix. Researchers at the Mechanical Engineering Department, Texas Tech University, Charles L. Croessmann, Michelle Pantoya, and Cole A. Ritchie examined the ballistics performance of the developed coatings using a high-velocity impact ignition testing system (HITS). The system accelerated high-speed projectiles (up to 1100 m/s) into samples while capturing the impact using a high-speed video camera. The results illustrate that the coatings have significant potential for becoming a lightweight solution to counteract the advancements in projectile technologies in the ballistics space. The real-world implication of such progress is the preservation of human lives. Results of this important work were recently published in ASME HVIS2022 Proceedings of Hypervelocity Impact Symposium, held September 18-22, 2022 in Alexandria, VA in a publication, entitled: “EXAMINATION OF GRAPHITE BASED PROTECTIVE COATINGS UNDER HIGH VELOCITY IMPACT”.
This is by no means the end of AETC's collaboration with many industry professionals and academics, but a rather a continuation and a sign of a long road ahead. AETC seeks to exemplify and lead further developments within the industries we serve by encouraging like-minded individuals to work with us. AETC and its collaborators have developed a precedent of working together to create more significant achievements to improve the world we live in.