Toyota, one of the world’s largest car manufacturers, has applied for a patent to use graphene as a component in air batteries for electric cars. Air batteries pull oxygen from the air and use it in a chemical reaction to generate electricity.
US Patent Application Number 20120308902 describes a battery based on lithium as the cathode and an air electrode as the anode. It is the air electrode that is the subject of the invention. The rate of oxygen reaction at the air anode is enhanced by using thin layers of a carbon material. The carbon material, consisting of unidirectionally oriented graphene layers, essentially helps the battery breathe easier, making recharging faster. The inventors claim that it is essential that a Basal plane of graphene be exposed on the surface. A Basal plane is a specific plane of a crystalline material. Hence the automobile giant has managed to manufacture thin layers of graphite, with all layers of graphene oriented along a desired crystal axis. The patent application specifies several different methods for producing the electrode, and companies from which the material was sourced (all based in Japan).
This is certainly not the first graphene patent by Toyota, as the company has been investigating the material for use in electric car batteries for a few years. The entire application along with drawings of the embodiments is available at freepatentsonline.