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Graphene-infused concrete could pave the way for on-road EV charging

Perth-based minerals company Talga Resources has created a graphene-infused concrete with high electrical conductivity that it says could eventually enable wireless charging of electric vehicles (EVs) – both while driving and while parked.

On Monday the company said in an ASX statement that it had achieved a “global breakthrough” in electrical conductivity of graphene-enhanced concrete, achieving a resistance of 0.05 ohm-cm (a lower figure indicates higher conductivity) compared to a reference mortar resistance of 1,000,000 ohm-cm.

“The initial test results show that Talga’s graphene-enhanced concrete achieves such high electrical conductivity that it can act like the heating element of an electric stove,” Talga managing director Mark Thompson said.

The company said there were already a number of potential applications, including underfloor heating (replacing plumbed hot water solutions), anti-static flooring, strain sensors and grounding/lightning protection.

An emerging application includes solid-state heated roads to clear ice and snow, which Talga said would be more environmentally friendly than current ploughs, corrosive salts and de-icing chemicals, and the subsequent wastewater treatment.

The most exciting future application revealed, however, was the potential for wireless EV charging.

“In future, Talga will investigate the potential of the electrically conductive concrete for a cost-effective role in enabling inductive (wireless) charging technologies for electric vehicles under dynamic (driving) as well as stationary (parking) conditions, through the increased range of heating, sensing and other conductive concrete functions,” Talga said in the ASX statement.

Mr Thomson said the product used a low loading of graphene, though a larger proportion of ore processing byproducts from its Sweden-based silica-rich graphite deposits, “providing maximum potential for the most cost effective, scalable and eco-friendly development options”.

Attempts to create an electrically conductive concrete have typically used high levels of iron, steel fibres and carbon products, however have not to date resulted in high levels of performance, while having negative effects on cost, strength, corrosion and weight. Mr Thompson said recent studies by Exeter University found that concrete with added graphene was 146 per cent stronger than standard.

“They estimated that a 50 per cent reduction of cement used for the same strength concrete would result in a 446kg/tonne reduction in carbon emissions by the cement industry, currently the third-largest industrial energy consumer and second largest industrial CO2 emitter in the world,” Mr Thompson said.

“Talga is encouraged by these first tests and will move to take the prototype results to potential development partners in the world’s largest construction industry material.”

The company said it predicted there would be “significant” demand for conductive concrete within the US$450 billion a year (AU$606b) global industry.

The company has mineral assets in Sweden, and mining and processing technology and pilot plant operations in Germany. It is currently recruiting a European based commercial team – which will include people with construction sector and concrete market experience – to use the test results in commercialisation discussions with industry partners.

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