Columbus orders up to 154 CNG buses from New Flyer
Dimension Fabricators deploys Orange EV electric yard truck powered by onsite solar array

Rice researchers develop facile mechano-chemical process to make graphite pellets from functionalized graphene

Researchers at Rice University have demonstrated the mechano-chemical assembly of functionalized graphene layers into 3D graphitic solids (“graphite pellets”) via room temperature and low energy consuming processing. The pellet material is stronger and lighter than commercial graphite electrodes and could be promising for electrical storage applications with high energy and power densities, said Mohamad Kabbani, a former graduate student of Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and lead author of a paper on the work published in the journal Carbon.

The environmentally friendly, scalable process can be done in minutes by hand by grinding chemically modified graphene into a powder and using a hand-powered press to squeeze the powder into a solid pellet.

Kabbani previously showed how carbon nanotubes could be turned into graphene with a mortar and pestle rather than harsh chemicals. This time, he and his colleagues demonstrated how to make a battery-sized pellet, but the graphene powders with chemical functionalities attached to it can be pressed into any form. Kabbani said the material could be suitable for structural, catalytic, electrochemical and electronic applications.

This is the first time anyone’s made these at room temperature and without very high pressure. Usually these kind of materials require sintering (a process that uses pressure or heat to form solids without melting them) at temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius to produce strong pellets. In this case, mechano-chemistry at the nanoscale saved us a lot of energy and money.

—Mohamad Kabbani

The process began with two sets of functionalized nanotubes, one with carboxylic acid and the other with hydroxyl molecules. Once crushed to combine them either by hand or machine, they are placed in a lab-scale hydraulic press and subjected to 5 tons of pressure. The functional groups cross-linked the graphene sheets to each other, and even though no liquids were involved, they produced a tiny amount of water as a byproduct of the reaction, Kabbani said.

The pellets remained stable when placed in hot water for five hours, even when stirred; this confirmed the interlocking of the graphene sheets within, the researchers reported.

The Department of Defense, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Government of India Nano Mission and the state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, supported the research. Supercomputing resources were provided by Rice’s National Science Foundation-supported DAVinCI supercomputer administered by the Center for Research Computing and procured in partnership with Rice’s Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology.


  • Mohamad A. Kabbani, Vidya Kochat, Sanjit Bhowmick, Matias Soto, Anirban Som, K.R. Krishnadas, Cristiano F. Woellner, Ygor M. Jaques, Enrique V. Barrera, Syed Asif, Robert Vajtai, Thalappil Pradeep, Douglas S. Galvão, Ahmad T. Kabbani, Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, Pulickel M. Ajayan (2018) “Consolidation of functionalized graphene at ambient temperature via mechano-chemistry,” Carbon doi: 10.1016/j.carbon.2018.03.049


The comments to this entry are closed.