Posted By Terrance Barkan,
Saturday, December 29, 2018
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Researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) have devised a process for converting retired Li-ion battery anodes to graphene and graphene oxide (GO). A paper on the work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
Schematic illustration of the proposed smart fabrication of graphene and graphene oxide from end-of-life batteries. Zhang et al.
… accompanying the booming expansion of the Li-ion battery market, a tremendous amount of batteries retire every year and most of them are disposed of in landfills, which not only causes severe waste of precious sources but also induces hazardous soil contamination due to the plastic components and toxic electrolytes. So far, only 1% of end-of-life Li-ion batteries have been recycled. Apparently, it is an urgent necessity to develop effective battery recycling techniques.
… A rational strategy to simultaneously solve the environmental issues from waste batteries and graphite mining is to fabricate graphene directly from end-of-life battery anodes.
… Here, graphite powders from end-of-life Li-ion battery anodes were used to fabricate graphene.
—Zhang et al.
Graphite powders collected from end-of-life Li-ion batteries exhibited irregular expansion because of the lithium-ion intercalation and deintercalation in the anode graphite during battery charge/discharge.
Such lattice expansion of graphite can be considered as a prefabrication of graphene because it weakened the van der Waals bonds and facilitated the exfoliation.
—Zhang et al.
This “prefabrication” process facilitates both chemical and physical exfoliations of the graphite. Comparing with the graphene oxide derived from pristine, untreated graphite, the graphene oxide from anode graphite exhibited excellent homogeneity and electrochemical properties.
The lithiation aided pre-expansion enabled 4 times enhancement of graphene productivity by shear mixing, the researchers found.
The graphene fabrication was seamlessly inserted into the currently used battery recycling streamline in which acid treatment was found to further swell the graphite lattice, pushing up the graphene productivity to 83.7% (10 times higher than that of pristine graphite powders).
Posted By Terrance Barkan,
Thursday, December 27, 2018
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Applied Graphene Materials, originally spun out of Durham University and now based in Redcar, is creating a new range of graphene-enhanced anti-corrosion aerosols for James Briggs.
AGM say the completion of its first production batch is a "significant milestone" and they now plan to work towards a full product launch.
Based at the Wilton Centre, near Redcar, AGM makes powdered graphene, with the substance hailed by some experts as being capable of conducting electricity a million times better than copper, despite being as thin as human hair.
The business has developed a form of graphene it says can deliver a six-fold improvement in barrier and anti-corrosion properties, with James Briggs expected to use the product in primers to offer greater protection from weathering.
Bosses claim testing had demonstrated "repeated improvements in anti-corrosion performance".
Bryan Dobson, chairman of Applied Graphene Materials, said: "The Board continues to focus on the commercialisation of its products and proprietary technologies via its numerous active engagements and has made good progress in recent months.
"I am pleased to report that we have recently achieved a key milestone, having fulfilled the scale-up production purchase order from James Briggs Ltd in preparation for full product launch.
"JBL has successfully completed its first production batch which is a significant milestone for commercial realisation. Extensive testing has demonstrated repeated and outstanding improvements in anti-corrosion performance for JBL’s automotive aerosol primer. JBL plans to launch their new range of graphene enhanced anti-corrosion aerosols under their Hycote brand."
Mr Dobson als said the firm was pleased to participate in the opening of the UK’s Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester last week.
"Meeting with multiple participants, the opportunities for graphene technology remain buoyant," he said.
"Finding practical application solutions for the challenges surrounding the exploitation of graphene nanoplatelet technology is the key focus of AGM’s strategy for commercial progress.
"We look forward to working closely with GEIC in the months ahead in the further development of world-class application solutions."
James Briggs was founded almost two centuries ago and they have the capacity to distribute up to 150 million aerosols.
Applied Graphene Materials
Posted By Dexter Johnson, IEEE Spectrum,
Thursday, December 20, 2018
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California-based NTherma is leveraging a proprietary graphene production method based on the unzipping of multiwalled carbon nanotubes into graphene nanoplatelets or nanoribbons.
The backgrounds of NTherma’s co-founders Cattien V. Nguyen, President & CEO, and Thuy Ngo, VP Business Developments & Investor Relations, cover both the science of graphene as well as its business development. Nguyen’s background contains some of the heavy hitters in nanomaterials research over the last 20 years: IBM Almaden Research Center and Stanford University.
With their manufacturing process offering a high degree of customization, NTherma is targeting applications that exploit this inherent flexibility that other manufacturing techniques can’t so easily deliver on.
As a new Corporate Member of The Graphene Council, we got the opportunity to ask them about how they are approaching the market with their novel manufacturing technique, some of the challenges they are facing and how they plan to overcome them.
Q: Could you provide us more details about your method for producing graphene? It appears from your website that it may be a bottom-up approach. Is it a CVD-enabled process or direct chemical synthesis? And what kind of graphene does it produce?
Our graphene production method is different from the two current production processes. We don't produce graphene by CVD of single layer directly on a metal substrate and we don't produce graphene by exfoliating graphite. Both of these production methods have a number of tradeoffs including cost, purity, and control of structural parameters.
NTherma's unique approach to the production of graphene starts with our patent-pending method of producing carbon nanotubes (CNTs) that have high purity and high degree control of lengths and diameters, and most importantly a much lower production cost. NTherma's graphene is then derived by the chemical conversion of high quality CNTs.
Depending on the degree of chemical oxidation process, the produced graphene can be nanoplatelets or nanoribbons, or a combination of the two types. Our ability to control the CNT length and their high purity together translates to high quality graphene at a much lower cost. Of particularly importance is the availability of graphene nanoribbons at a large scale with controlled length, high purity, and much lower cost. This will open up a number of applications not currently feasible with commercially available graphene.
Could you let us know what applications you are targeting for your graphene? And can you tell us a bit about how you came to target these applications?
We are currently focusing on the following applications:
1. Graphene for Oil Additives: These reduce engine friction, improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions. We differentiate our graphene as an oil additive in that our graphene forms a stable dispersion in oil with a demonstrated shelf life of greater than 12 months.
2. Coatings: There are many coating applications employing graphene and currently we are working with a few partners to integrate our graphene products. We are also focusing on applications such as touchscreen and display as well as smart windows that other graphene materials have not been able to effectively address.
3. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) Batteries: Preliminary test results are positive. We're looking for partners to continue developing and testing the process.
Because of our unique customization ability, we can alter length, layers and uniformity of our graphene per customers' requests. Realizing that our high quality and consistent materials can unlock previous bottlenecks that other graphene products couldn't resolve, we chose these applications in the order provided as we see these applications and markets having the highest potential and where our technology will have the highest impact.
You are also producing multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). How do you see this fitting with your graphene production?
We produce MWCNTs for several other applications such as thermal management and also carbon nanotube yarns in development with a commercial partner.
We also produce our graphene by the chemical conversion of MWNTs.
Is your strategy to remain a graphene and MWCNT producer, or do you see yourself moving further up the value chain to make devices from these materials?
We will focus on scaling up the production of high quality MWCNTs and graphene for the near future. At the same time, we are developing, or have plans to develop, other applications and markets by ourselves or with partners in order to add more value to our business by strategically positioning our unique technology in a variety of verticals.
What do you see as the greatest challenge for your business in making an impact the commercialization of graphene, i.e. customer education, lack of standards, etc.? And what do you believe can be done to overcome these challenges?
The greatest challenges as a business for us have been our efforts to work with the end users and to understand as well as to educate the potential customers of our unique graphene products for any particular applications and product development processes. Not all graphene products are the same in their purity, structural parameters such as size and number of layers, and cost. These facts have to be made known to the end users and have to match with the end user's specific application.
Additionally, we also have to overcome clients' negative experiences with using other producers' inconsistent quality products. We have to resolve these issues by continuing to work closely with our potential customers and partners by helping them to understand the materials and also optimizing and testing products for specific applications ourselves to provide clients with testing procedures and data (both in a lab environment and in real life).
Posted By Terrance Barkan,
Friday, December 14, 2018
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The Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) is a £60 million facility that specialises in the development and scale-up of graphene and other 2D materials for industrial purposes.
As the home of industry-led innovation with graphene and 2D materials at the University of Manchester, work at the GEIC is focused around creating, testing and optimisining new concepts for delivering products to market as well as the processes needed to scale up production and build and maintain a supply chain.
Working with the National Graphene Institute, the GEIC complements their research with work in six key areas of focus:
- Inks, formulations and coatings
- Graphene production and pilot facility
- Measurements and characterisation
Why is this important?
The GEIC facility makes industry standard equipment available for rapid prototyping and testing, allowing companies (especially those that do not have multi-million dollar R&D facilities) to develop cutting edge graphene enhanced products with less risk and on an accelerated schedule.
Equally important, the GEIC facility is housed on the Univeristy of Manchester's campus, providing easy access to the world's leading graphene research team of PhD's and experts.
Working with The Graphene Council and the GEIC
The Graphene Council is an Affiliate Member of the GEIC and has UK based colleagues that can help you take your graphene innovation ideas from concept to prototype on an accelerated pace. Getting to market faster saves you time and money while providing a competitive advantage.
Using our extensive knowledge and graphene market insights, we can help you to craft a graphene innovation strategy. The Graphene Council can then help you realize this strategy through the use of development facilities, like the GEIC, and by leveraging our close relationships with the leading graphene producers around the world.
If you would like help, whether it is to find the right graphene material supplier or support to bring your graphene innovation to life, contact us here by defining your requirement: http://bit.ly/GrapheneSolution
About The Graphene Council - We are the largest community in the world for graphene professionals that includes graphene producers, academics, standards developers, users and application developers.
Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre
University of Manchester
Posted By Terrance Barkan,
Sunday, December 9, 2018
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Australian advanced materials technology company, Talga Resources Ltd (“Talga” or “the Company”)(ASX: TLG), has achieved outstanding conductivity results from Talphene®-enhanced epoxy composite trials undertaken at TWI in the UK.
Carbon fibre reinforced polymer (“CFRP”) panels were constructed using a dispersion of Talga graphene (Talphene®) in the epoxy based resin of the composite and subjected to a range of conductivity tests pertinent to aircraft applications.
Results showed the Talphene® panel provided similar lightning strike protection as copper mesh panels currently used in composite aircraft but saved 75% of the weight of the copper (Figs 1,2 and Table 1). Further results demonstrating Talphene®’s significant conductivity included up to 500% increase in dielectric constant, 100% increase in resin thermal conductivity as well as spot temperatures well over 100 degrees celsius in anti-icing trials (Fig 3). As CFRP resins are normally non-conductive, these results are highly positive.
The ability to improve the weight, electrical and thermal conductivity of CFRP composites has significant benefits for applications such as lightning strike protection and wing anti-icing on aircraft, both of which currently use heavy copper mesh. The same technology would also be of benefit to wind turbine blades that require manual or chemical de-icing in winter (Fig 4).
Figure 1 Managing Director, Mark Thompson and Chief Technology Officer Dr Siva Bohm showing some of the CFRP test panels after lightning strike tests (Talphene® panel on right in both photos).
Note the rear of the Talphene® panel (far right) shows no exit puncture. The copper mesh panel shows damage from further testing but would also otherwise show no puncture.
Talga Managing Director, Mr Mark Thompson: “Tests show that Talphene®-enhanced conductive composites can do the same job as copper, but with less weight, easier application and therefore potentially much lower lifetime costs. These highly encouraging outcomes follow our earlier test results showing increased strength and toughness of epoxy resins and we can now move to addressing the full range of market opportunities for Talphene® products across the composites sector.”
Talga graphene enhanced epoxy composite prototypes were tested at TWI, a respected material science and engineering institute near Cambridge, UK, and Cobham Technical Services under certified aerospace standard laboratory conditions.
The prototype formulation was prepared using Talphene® produced from the Company’s Vittangi graphite deposit in Sweden and dispersed using a proprietary method developed by Talga Technologies Limited in the UK.
Figure 2 CFRP is used throughout the body of many modern aircraft. Copyright © Boeing
The program assessed epoxies from Hexcel, 3M, Bitrez and Huntsman with which to disperse the Talphene® and construct the CFRP samples to be tested.
Tests were conducted on 600mm x 600mm, three-ply CFRP panel samples measuring electrical properties by dielectric constant, thermal conductivity according to ISO8301:1991 Ed1, lightning strike tests at Cobham Technical Services according to EUROCAE ED-105A to Zone 2A strike specification and anti-icing tests by Joule heating using MacGregor power supply and thermal imaging. SEM and optical microscopy confirmed dispersion of the Talphene® into the resin.
Table 1 Summary of Cobham Technical Services lightning strike test data showing similar performance of Talphene® enhanced CFRP panel to that using copper mesh.
Figure 3 Anti-icing tests of Talphene® enhanced CFRP panel using an electric current (Left) with thermal imagery showing temperature at rest (Centre) and under voltage (Right).
The global composite market is worth over USD$82 billion/year1 and is rapidly growing across sectors in aerospace, renewable energy and automotive markets driven by increased demand for lower weight, higher strength and multi-functionality.
By 2024, the total volume of the CFRP composite material market is predicted to be in excess of 290,000 tonnes2. Key producers include companies such as Toray, Toho Tenax, Mitsubishi, Hyosung, Cytec, Plasan, Hexcel Corp, SGL (Germany), Gurit (Switzerland) and Formosa Plastics Corporation.
Figure 4 Example of expensive and high enviro-impact chemical de-icing of wind turbine blades in northern hemisphere winter. Turning the CFRP blade into a self- powered heating element offers a better solution.
Graphene enhanced composites are one of the four key sectors of Talga’s commercialisation strategy and these test results validate the Company’s focus and potential in this sector. Talga will now progress its products in the composites market using these prototype test results as the catalyst to initiate joint development and commercial agreements with global end users.
Talga Resources Ltd is an advanced materials technology company enabling stronger, lighter and more functional products for the multi-billion dollar global coatings, battery, construction and polymer composites markets via graphene and graphite products. The company has significant advantages owing to its 100% owned unique high grade graphite deposits in Sweden and in-house processing and product technology. Joint development programs are underway with a range of international corporations.
Company website: www.talgaresources.com
For further information please contact:
Mark Thompson, Managing Director Talga Resources Ltd T: + 61 (08) 9481 6667
Stephen Hutchins, Technical Sales Director Talga Technologies Limited T: +44 (0) 1223 420416
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Posted By Terrance Barkan,
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2018
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On 26 October 2018 we reported that the advanced materials company, First Graphene Ltd (“FGR”) (ASX: FGR) released an update on the use of its PureGRAPH™ products in the mining services sector.
FGR has now followed up with a confirmed purchase order for 2,000 kg of their PureGRAPH™ material to be delivered during 2019, for use in the Armour-GRAPH™ product range in a mining equipment application.
The purchase order for 2,000kg of PureGRAPH™ range products from newGen for delivery during 2019, represents a significant development not only for FGR, but also for the broader graphene market. It demonstrates the initial market appetite for high quality bulk graphene products of the type in which FGR specialises. Up until now the graphene sector has been supplying mostly samples for evaluation. This order represents a step change in the business as it starts to scale up for larger size orders.
Pleasingly, the premium price to be received pursuant to the order debunks the myth that graphene is expensive. The productivity benefits and material performance improvements experienced when PureGRAPHTM is added to materials more than compensate for the cost of the graphene, and it underpins the pricing strategy employed by First Graphene.
As previously reported (see article below) FGR is working closely with newGen Group to provide performance enhancement to their existing products with the addition of PureGRAPH™ graphene products. newGen Group has recently introduced a branded Amour-GRAPH™ product range of wear liners for bucket wheel, pipe spools and conveyor heavy equipment applications.
In a recent development, the Company was pleased to confirm further progress in its R&D collaboration with newGen Group. newGen is supplying a wear lining system for dryer chute applications to a large Australian cement producer in their Perth facility. It is a leading supplier of cement and lime to the Western Australia’s mining, agriculture and construction industries.
Each 50m2 liner will contain 10 to 12kg of PureGRAPH™ and is a further significant step in the adoption of First Graphene products into large industrial applications. PureGRAPH™ has been demonstrated to provide up to 37% improved tensile strength and improve abrasion resistance by 100% to 500% in high performance polyurethanes.
newGen has now issued a purchase order for 2,000kg (2 tonnes) of PureGRAPHTM to be drawn down as it wins tenders during 2019. There is one final regulatory approval required before the first sale is effected, being the registration of graphene by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) in Australia.
Similarly, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) needs to be completed for sales in the European Union. These registration processes are currently underway and they are not expected to provide any meaningful delays.
The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) registration process is required for all chemicals used in industry in Australia. Within the European Union REACH registration is required if an organisation plans to sell greater than one tonne of a chemical within the EU or United Kingdom. First Graphene Ltd has already joined the consortium which is registering graphene as a new chemical. The consortium consists of three graphene organisations, one from China, one from Canada and one European producer.
Managing Director, Craig McGuckin, stated: “We said that we were the world’s leading graphene company, and we are now proving it with this sales order – the start of many. We do not believe there is another company which could deliver both the volume and the consistent quality this order requires. We are now entering an exciting growth phase as industries all around the world are starting to look at ways in which they can use graphene to improve their products and lower their operating costs”.
newGen Managing Director, Ben Walker stated: “My Company has had considerable interest generated for our new Armour-GRAPH™ range since we started developing PureGRAPH enhanced products with First Graphene. The graphene enhanced resin was added seamlessly into our mixing procedure. It is not labour intensive or complicated with regard to our standard operating practices.”
ORIGINAL ARTICLE - 26 OCT 2018
FGR is working closely with a number of companies to demonstrate performance enhancement of their products through the addition of its PureGRAPH™ graphene products. In this case, the wear-life of mining equipment can be extended with the inclusion of PureGRAPH™ graphene into protective polymer linings.
The rapid progress made with these polymer linings was enabled by the high consistency of PureGRAPH™ products and the ease of dispersion into the polymer resin. The know-how being acquired is readily transferable to a vast range of other polymer products, in many industries. The suitability of the PureGRAPH™ is particularly pleasing as it confirms this is a commercially superior product.
It is expected that, as manufacturing companies start to witness the improvements that graphene can offer, there will be an acceleration of demand for supplies of PureGRAPH™. First Graphene is well-positioned to satisfy the demand as it enters an exciting growth phase.
- PureGRAPH™ graphene has been successfully incorporated into a high volume application in the mining sector.
- A full scale mining reclaimer bucket was cast for an on-site trial with a multi-national mining company
- Test work has confirmed PureGRAPH™ readily disperses into the polymer resin used
- Further bucket linings will be cast and sold for use in northern Australia with a multi-national mining group
- PureGRAPH™ enhanced polymer liners for a range of associated applications will also be trialled
- This success with a graphene-enhanced bucket lining will open an important growth curve for graphene enhanced rubbers and composites
There are 12 buckets on the wheel for the machine these buckets are destined for, each with a capacity is 2.2 m3. The reclaimer has a nominal machine capacity is 12,000 tph and maximum capacity is 14,500 tph in bauxite.
As announced in June 2018 FGR is working with newGen Group on equipment used in the mining industry to improve polyurethane liners to protect them from excessive abrasion and increase their useful life.
Since then FGR and newGen have conducted various tests using PureGRAPH™ in polyurethane to determine the best suited PureGRAPH™ product and the optimum quantity to be added. These tests have demonstrated that the PureGRAPH™ product provides significantly increased flexural strength to the base polyurethane product.
newGen have now cast a liner for a Sandvik reclaimer bucket using PureGRAPH™ 20 and are now working with FGR on the use of a PureGRAPH™ enhance polyurethane in other high volume mining applications in the iron ore industry where newGen are preferred supplier.
FGR Managing Director, Craig McGuckin, stated: “Achieving the creation of this bucket liner for a multi-national end user is a credit to Ben’s foresight and the team at FGR.”
newGen’s Ben Walker stated: “We are pleased to be at the forefront of graphene use in mining materials. It has been excellent to work with the calibre of people at First Graphene in this march towards supplying our valued clients with ground breaking, high performance materials.”
About First Graphene Ltd (ASX: FGR)
First Graphene has established a commercial graphene production facility for the bulk scale manufacture of graphene at competitive prices. The Company continues to develop graphene related intellectual property from which it intends to generate licence and royalty payments.
The Company has collaboration arrangements with four universities and is at the cutting edge of graphene and 2D related material developments. Most recently First Graphene has become a Tier 1 participant in the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) of the University of Manchester. First Graphene is working with numerous industry partners for the commercialisation of graphene and is building a sales book with these industry partners.
PureGRAPH™ Range of Products
The PureGRAPH™ range of products were released by FGR in September 2018, in conjunction with a detailed Product Information Sheet. PureGRAPH™ graphene powders are available with lateral platelet sizes of 20μm, 10μm and 5μm. The products are characterised by their low defect level and high aspect ratio.
Graphene, the well-publicised and now famous two-dimensional carbon allotrope, is as versatile a material as any discovered on Earth. Its amazing properties as the lightest and strongest material, compared with its ability to conduct heat and electricity better than anything else, means it can be integrated into a huge number of applications. Initially this will mean graphene is used to help improve the performance and efficiency of current materials and substances, but in the future, it will also be developed in conjunction with other two-dimensional (2D) crystals to create some even more amazing compounds to suit an even wider range of applications.
One area of research which is being very highly studied is energy storage. Currently, scientists are working on enhancing the capabilities of lithium ion batteries (by incorporating graphene as an anode) to offer much higher storage capacities with much better longevity and charge rate. Also, graphene is being studied and developed to be used in the manufacture of supercapacitors which can be charged very quickly, yet also be able to store a large amount of electricity.
For further information, please contact
First Graphene Limited
+ 611300 660 448
graphene enhanced polymer
Posted By Terrance Barkan,
Monday, October 15, 2018
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San Diego based graphene and 2D materials producer Grolltex has completed characterization and is releasing for commercial sale a configuration of large area, single layer graphene that exhibits dramatically improved ‘electron mobility’, which translates to better graphene performance. This ‘heterostructure’ contains a layer or layers of hexagonal Boron Nitride (or ‘hBN’) underneath graphene, enabling enhanced graphene capabilities.
Grolltex has begun commercial pre-sales to customers of this ‘Enhanced Performance Graphene’ product, which can significantly improve device performance for sensing, transistors, connectivity and other key aspects of nano-devices. This type of material performance improvement is often a stepping stone for new applications enabling large market growth toward faster, smaller, cheaper and more sensitive silicon-based devices.
“The data back from our large European device partner showed carrier mobility performance improvements starting at 30%, and our internal work shows us that with some configuration adjustments, we can even build on this toward electron mobility improvements in exponential regimes”, said Jeff Draa, Grolltex CEO and co-founder. “We believe this is going to be incredibly important to many of our customers that build things on silicon”.
The first reason for the improvement of graphene electron mobility performance, when layered on top of hBN on a wafer, is that the underlying layer of hBN, between the wafer and the graphene, planarizes the surface of the silicon wafer and allows graphene to sit on a surface (hBN) far more conducive to graphene electron flow.
Another reason has to do with the electron interference of the oxide coming out of the underlying Si/SiO2 wafer, if graphene sits directly on top of it. With the hBN layer between the graphene and the wafer, the negative effect of the oxide from the wafer on graphene electron performance is greatly reduced, allowing a much freer flow of graphene electrons. Additional advantages are lower processing temperatures and a much stronger adhesion of the graphene layer to the underlying substrate, with hBN present.
“So, when graphene sits on hBN, it performs much closer to the theoretical ‘electron superhighway’ that graphene users expect”, according to Draa. “We have characterized and are selling this heterostructure to our pre-qualified customers in up to 8” (200mm) diameter configurations and can layer hBN and graphene in any combination”.
“Device designers, especially advanced sensor makers, are really keyed in to electron mobility. There are many variables that affect this and he who can square those away and show dramatic improvements in mobility can help add real, unique and substantial value to device performance”, said Draa. “Next on our characterization list is MoS2, which is an important ‘band-gap’ material that has been missing in 2D offerings.”
Grolltex, short for ‘graphene-rolling-technologies’, uses patented research and techniques initially developed at the University of California, San Diego, to produce high quality, single layer graphene, hexagonal Boron Nitride and other 2D materials and products. The company is a practitioner of, and specializes in, exclusively sustainable graphene production methods and is committed to advancing the field of graphene to improve the future of leading edge materials science and product design through the optimization of single atom thick materials.
Grolltex, Inc., is a nanotechnology materials, products and equipment company focusing on the optimization and advancement of the key monolayer material ‘graphene’ and related 2D materials. The company holds a number of strategic patents and technological advantages in areas relating to the manufacture of high quality, monolayer ‘CVD’ graphene and hexagonal Boron Nitride as well as on several advanced products made of graphene and 2D materials, such as hyper efficient solar cells, next generation sensors, advanced fuel cells and futuristic super-thin and flexible displays for use in wearables, smart phones and other electronics.
For complete information, please visit: https://grolltex.com/
Attn: Media Relations, Grolltex, Inc.
10085 Scripps Ranch Court, Suite D
San Diego, CA 92131
Posted By Dexter Johnson, IEEE Spectrum,
Friday, October 12, 2018
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With well over a decade in the business, XG Sciences is considered one of the most established graphene producers in the world. It is behind one of graphene’s most high-profile applications in Callaway’s introduction of its so-called Chrome Soft golf ball that employs graphene supplied by XG Sciences to make the golf balls both softer and harder where they need to be.
XG Sciences recently became a corporate partner of the Graphene Council and we took that occasion to discuss with the company’s CEO, Philip Rose, the graphene market in general and how XG Science’s product line fits into that market.
We also were able to learn how graphene supply chains are developed and secured and how the introduction of graphene into many different products can be supported and promoted. Here’s our interview.
Q: XG Sciences produces graphene platelets. Could you explain where that places you in the graphene marketplace (as opposed to monosheets of graphene)? What sort of applications does that product open up for you?
A: The term “graphene” is often used to cover a variety of specific forms of the material, but we generally think about two broad classes of graphene materials – monolayer and nanoplatelet. One-atom thick films are commonly referred to as monolayer graphene and are manufactured from gases by assembling molecules to form relatively large, transparent sheets of material. We do not manufacture these films and do not participate in the markets for these films. In general, we believe that the markets for these films do not compete with those for graphene nanoplatelets.
XG Sciences offers an advanced material platform in the form of varying grades of xGnP® graphene nanoplatelets produced from two processes, each of which can be customized in many ways. Our proprietary manufacturing processes control the attributes of graphene nanoparticles. These attributes contribute to a range of properties that can be mapped to various end-market applications from automotive to sporting goods to packaging.
Because we have multiple production processes, and because we have invested in application know-how and development of value-added product formulations, we are able to address a range of needs in multiple market segments in a cost effective manner, providing breadth to our base capabilities and product portfolio. We believe these are all key differentiators in the market.
Based on the past 10 years of customer development activity, we understand that performance of graphene nanoplatelets in a specific application is primarily a function of the platelet’s diameter, thickness, planarity (or more broadly – morphology), and to some extent, the nature and concentration of any chemical groups on the platelets. There are other factors that may impact performance, such as optimized dispersion, product form delivered to the customer (powder vs. slurry), and so on. However, for the most part, performance in an application is related to the physical characteristics of the nanoplatelets. XG Sciences is skilled in the design and manufacture of graphene nanoplatelets, and our two proprietary manufacturing processes allow for the production of a broad product portfolio that can meet many needs across diverse end-use markets.
We sell bulk graphene nanoplatelets under the brand name xGnP®. These materials are produced in various grades, which are analogous to average particle thickness and average particle diameters. There are three commercial grades (Grades H, M and R), each of which is offered in three standard particle sizes and a fourth, C Grade, which is offered in three standard surface areas.
These bulk materials, which can be shipped in the form of a dry powder, are especially applicable for use as additives in polymeric or metallic composites, or in coatings or other formulations where particular electrical, thermal and/or barrier applications are desired. We also offer our materials in the form of dispersions of nanoplatelets in liquids such as water, alcohol and other organic solvents, or mixed into resins or polymers such as PET, polypropylene and urethanes.
As stated previously, we use two different commercial processes to produce these bulk materials. Grade H/M/R materials are produced through chemical intercalation of natural graphite followed by thermal exfoliation using a proprietary process developed by XG Sciences. Some of our process components are patented but we have chosen to keep others as trade secrets. The “grade” designates the thickness and surface characteristics of these materials, and each grade is available in various average particle diameters. Surface area, calculated by the Brunauer, Emmet, and Teller (BET) Method, is used as a convenient proxy for thickness. So, each grade of products produced through chemical intercalation is designated by its average surface area, which ranges from 50 to 150 m2/g of material.
We also use direct methods to measure layer thickness such as tunneling electron microscopy (TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). We are able to extend the surface area higher than those listed here (and therefore, to fewer layer nanoplatelets) but are not yet producing these materials commercially. As the market need emerges for few-layer graphene, we will consider making these materials available commercially.
Grade C materials, and some related composite materials, are produced through a high-shear mechanical exfoliation using a proprietary and patented process with equipment that we invented, designed, and constructed. The Grade C materials are smaller particles than those grades produced through chemical exfoliation. Grade C materials are designated by their BET surface area, which ranges from 300 to 800 m2/g. We are able to produce surface areas as low as 150 m2/g and as high as 900 m2/g but are not yet making those commercially available. Should the market need them, we are ready to supply them.
We consider ourselves a “platform play” in advanced materials because our proprietary manufacturing processes allow us to produce varying grades of graphene nanoplatelets that can be mapped to a variety of applications in many market segments. However, we prioritize our efforts in specific areas that have the greatest technical, processing, environmental or economic challenges; places where customers are highly motivated to find solutions. At this time, we are focused on a few high-priority areas.
One such area is composites. Incorporation of our xGnP® graphene nanoplatelets into various thermoplastic, thermoset and elastomeric polymers have been shown to impart improvements in strength, electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity and/or barrier performance. We pursue several end-use applications that may benefit from one or more properties and believe that composites represent a potentially large opportunity for commercial sales.
For example, Callaway adopted xGnP® in their new Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X golf balls. This new Callaway Golf® ball line incorporates XG Sciences’ high-performance graphene nanoplatelets into the outer core of the Chrome Soft balls, resulting in a new class of product that enables increased control, higher driving speeds and greater distance. We have other customers using our materials commercially in sporting goods equipment ranging from field hockey sticks to water sports equipment.
Automotive is another market segment adopting our materials. Ford Motor Company recently announced adoption of our materials in polyurethane based foam for use in fuel rail covers, pump covers and front engine covers. Incorporation of our high-performance materials results in a 17 percent reduction in noise, a 20 percent improvement in mechanical and a 30 percent improvement in heat endurance properties, compared with that of the foam used without graphene.
We are also getting commercial traction in packing applications with a large U.S.-based water bottling company who is shipping product that incorporates our graphene nanoplatelets into PET. Where use of xGnP® enables light weighting, improved modulus and shelf life as well providing energy savings during processing.
XG was founded back in 2006. Since that time, we have sold products to over 1,000 customers in over 47 countries and many are in various stages of testing our products for numerous applications. For most customers, the process of “designing-in” new materials is relatively complex and involves the use of relatively small amounts of the new material in laboratory and engineering development for an extended period of time. We believe following successful development, customers that incorporate our materials into their products will then order much larger quantities of material to support commercial production.
Although, our customers are under no obligation to report to us on the usage of our materials, some have indicated that they have introduced, or will soon introduce, commercial products that use our materials. Thus, while many of our customers are currently purchasing our materials in kilogram (one or two pound) quantities, some are now ordering at multiple ton quantities and we believe many will require tens of tons or even hundreds of tons of material as they commercialize products that incorporate our materials. We also believe that those customers already in production will increase their order volume as demand increases and others will begin to move into commercial volume production as they gain more experience in working with our materials.
In 2017, our customer shipments increased by over 600% to almost 18 metric tons (MT) of products from the 2.5 MT shipped in 2016. In the three months ending June 30, 2018, we shipped 15.4 MT of product (11.2 MT of graphene nanoplatelets in the form of dry powders and 4.2 MT of slurry, cakes or other integrated products containing graphene nanoplatelets), an increase of 716% over the three months ending June 30, 2017 (1.9 MT mostly in the form of dry powder) and an increase of 5% as compared to the three months ending March 31, 2018 (10.4 MT of dry powder and 4.4 MT of slurry, cakes or other integrated products containing graphene nanoplatelets). This demand profile is further evidence that we are transitioning into higher-volume production. It’s a really exciting time for XG Sciences as we see our customers move into commercial production in multiple applications and end-use markets.
Q: That leads to my next question, which is: are you moving up the value chain? For instance, you said you’ve invested and done a lot of work on energy storage and batteries, which is a very complicated business and physics and science to invest in. Are you looking to move up the value chain there? Creating perhaps a lithium-ion battery based on graphene, or are you still looking at yourselves as suppliers of the material for graphene and for battery producers?
A: It's a great question. We don’t see ourselves making water bottles or golf balls. However, we do make a range of advanced materials we have coined as “integrated products”. These are all products that contain graphene nanoplatelets.
For example, we have a platform of inks and coatings that incorporate proprietary grades of our xGnP® graphene nanoplatelets. These grades are specifically designed for a given application and may not be offered for sale as dry powder – we reserve their use only in an integrated product. We may add binders and surfactants and solvents depending on the final application. We have a concrete additive product available on Amazon that may fall into that category as well. We also make masterbatches of various thermoplastics (PP, HDPE, PET, etc.) where we vary the nature of the graphene nanoplatelet and the concentration to target various end-use applications.
In the next 3-5 years, we target 50% of our revenue coming from bulk materials (powders, slurries, cakes, etc.) and the other 50% from various forms of integrated products.
Q: I would just like to circle back to the iterative process and working with the end users you mentioned earlier, and turn to a question I sent to you previously and that is, what is the greatest challenge for you in working with someone who's new to graphene that you have to explain what it's capabilities are? You outlined that already, but if you could just pinpoint a particular issue that you find that raises itself over and over and over again I think that would be illustrative.
A: There really isn’t any one greatest challenge – there are many small challenges that vary from customer to customer. I think at a fundamental level, in order to be a viable supplier of any advanced material – and certainly graphene nanoplatelets are no different – suppliers must be able to demonstrate three key things: performance, cost and scale.
Until a supplier is able to demonstrate these characteristics, customers may only consider them as an academic curiosity – and that is not meant to cast any aspersions on our academic colleagues. That is to say that a customer will not risk putting a new material into their product unless they are certain that such material will perform, that its price allows for its adoption and that it can be supplied in sufficient volume to meet demand requirements over time.
Of course, there are other relevant requirements such as batch-to-batch consistency, IP, access to capital to enable growth, etc. So, the primary “challenge,” if we couch it in that context, is set by the broader customer base that requires demonstration of viability, capability and credibility as a supplier. We are able to meet, and in many instances exceed, these criteria so our primary task is now one of execution.
We have commercial traction and expect customers to continue to ramp their own production. We have many customers who are approaching commercialization and will add to our revenue growth over the next several quarters. In the meantime, we will continue to grow our organizational capability as well as our capacity to meet rising demand.
We recently announced completion of the first phase of the capacity expansion in our newest 64,000 square foot facility. The expansion has added 90 metric tons of graphene nanoplatelet production capacity, bringing the total capacity of the facility up to approximately 180 metric tons per year. Phase two of the expansion is expected to be complete by year-end and will result in up to 400 metric tons of total graphene nanoplatelet output capacity at the facility. Our total graphene nanoplatelet output capacity across both of our manufacturing facilities currently exceeds 200 metric tons per year and will more than double over the next three months, reaching up to an approximate 450 metric tons by year-end. The expansions support our mission to continue commercializing the use of graphene in customer products across diverse industries.
Q: I noticed in your background you worked at Sigma Aldrich, which is one of the big chemical companies. Did that give you a better understanding of what was ahead for you in order to get your product qualified by these companies? In other words, it appears as though smaller graphene producers are on a different time scale than a big chemical company. A big chemical company doesn't have any rush to do anything until they have the supply chain firmed up the way they want it, whereas, a smaller graphene producer, would like to start moving product as soon as possible. Does that give you any insight? What value did that provide you?
A: I think it absolutely does. I worked for Rohm and Haas prior to Sigma Aldrich and between the two, and now with XG Sciences, I have been in advanced materials for my entire career – which I am reticent to admit is now almost 30 years!
I have been involved in successfully introducing new materials to semiconductor manufacturers like Intel, IBM and TSMC, and to display manufacturers such as LGD, Samsung and AU Optronics as well as in a number of other electronic and industrial applications and markets. The process for new-material adoption is fairly end-market agnostic and the fundamental requirements of a supplier that I previously articulated are still relevant. The timing for adoption may vary from customer to customer and from market to market, but the process is the same.
Having successfully installed new materials with multiple customers and in multiple end-markets is very advantageous in helping to direct XG Sciences’ growth. Of course, it takes a team, and XG Sciences has very capable people in each of the functional areas required for success.
Q: You are a publicly traded company, right?
A: No. We have public reporting requirements by virtue of our self-underwritten public offering and S-1 registration statement, but we are not listed on any exchanges at this time. It is our intent to consider an up-listing event in the next 12 to 18 months.
Q: With your background in advanced materials and while you're looking more at electronics like semi-conductors and flat panel displays, but when you mentioned the barrier for bottles and those containers, I remember some years back maybe 15 years back, people were talking about nano clays so that you could have plastic beer bottles at ball parks. What are the benefits over some of those other nanomaterials for graphene platelets?
A: That's a good question. It really depends on what performance they wish to achieve and then to assess whether that is achievable using a given material. One of the clear advantages of graphene nanoplatelets over other nanomaterials is their ability to impart multi-functional performance. In the example I gave for PET-based water bottles, incorporation of our nanoplatelets improve physical strength, shelf life (barrier) and energy savings (thermal conductivity). A nanoclay, for example, would likely only impact barrier performance – and perhaps not to the extent one could achieve with graphene nanoplatelets.
We don’t typically see our materials competing with other nanomaterials for the same application. Graphene and graphene nanoplatelets are a relatively new material – they open up new performance and design options to engineers. That’s what makes these materials so exciting and why we are focused on building a company around their manufacture and supply. We are beginning to see their adoption at large volumes and in multiple applications, which bring about more curiosity and provide evidence of the power of graphene to a wider audience. I have touched on just a few applications in our discussion so far, but the full breadth of the impact graphene nanoplatelets can have is nearly limitless.
Posted By Terrance Barkan,
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
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Phoenix, Arizona, October 9, 2018 — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Urbix Resources, an advanced graphite company based in Mesa, Arizona, has produced the first economically viable graphene-enhanced lightweight concrete, an achievement that represents an industry breakthrough.
Designed in collaboration with one of the world’s largest producers of lightweight concrete, Urbix’s solution delivers material performance improvements, but at a cost that is lower than current lightweight concrete alternatives. A graphene industry first.
Others have tested graphene as an additive in cements and concrete in the past, seeking to improve a variety of concrete’s performance characteristics. Urbix’s research and development team solved the challenge by creating what they call a Graphenesque™ additive that provides a 33 percent increase in compressive strength, a 32 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, and at a cost that is 16.6 percent lower than the next best lightweight concrete alternative on the market.
“It is ultimately the cost of the additive versus benefits of performance that have to be compared with any incumbent technology, especially graphene products,” explains Urbix Chairman Nicolas Cuevas. “That cost versus benefit is the real barrier that’s been keeping graphene out of commercial products until now.”
Urbix is known primarily for its low cost and environmentally friendly flake graphite purification for li-ion batteries, but is quickly establishing itself as one of the premier vertically integrated providers of graphene and Graphenesque™ products.
“The material performance of our solution for lightweight concrete is great,” says Urbix Chief Marketing Officer Adam Small. “But the low costs and large-scale capabilities are what makes this achievement so profound. By leveraging our existing global graphite mining relationships, we offer near vertical integration, an aspect that is almost mandatory for any company entering the graphene space.”
The additive is made in a way that is similar in infrastructure to Urbix’s proprietary purification process, for which a full-scale plant is currently being developed in the Phoenix area. At pilot scale production, it is expected the plant will be capable of producing in excess of 100 metric tons of the concrete additive monthly by the end of 2019. For reference, that amount will be enough material to produce between 10,000 and 40,000 metric tons of the new Urbix-enhanced lightweight concrete. This production figure will be scaled significantly higher beyond 2020.
At present, testing and certification continues. Urbix and their associates anticipate that they will bring the technology to market in 2020.
CONTACT: Linda Richards, Urbix Resources email@example.com
(805) 459-1550 UrbixResources.com
Posted By Dexter Johnson, IEEE Spectrum,
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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About four years ago, Alan Dalton, a professor at the University of Sussex in the UK, made some news in graphene circles when, in collaboration with colleagues at Trinity College Dublin, he demonstrated that rubber bands when combined with graphene could serve as effective health monitors. A couple of years later, Dalton continued to make news by using graphene to link together silver nanowires to create a material that could potentially replace indium tin oxide (ITO) as a transparent conductor in touch-screen displays. The following year in 2017, Dalton, serving as chief scientific officer, joined with an experienced group of individuals, led by CEO John Lee, who had a long career in energy and cleantech equity markets, to form Advanced Material Development (AMD).
While the work of Dalton along with a focus on graphene remains part of the company’s genetic makeup, it has established itself first and foremost as a company set up to support scientific research in materials science conducted at British Universities.
Using a unique process, AMD already has a commercially available product it has dubbed “nHance” that includes graphene, molybdenum disulfide and boron nitride in dispersions for use in a range of bespoke emulsions and applications. The patent-pending emulsions have been developed with the University of Sussex.
In addition to having a commercial product in hand, AMD also has secured £750,000 ($985,000) in funding in April to support its commercialization aims and has now commenced R&D funding.
As a corporate partner to the Graphene Council, we got an opportunity to conduct a Q&A with John Lee, the CEO of AMD and below is that interview.
Q: Could you give a little bit more background on the nature of AMD’s business? It seems to at least initially to be a company based on the research of Alan Dalton at the University of Sussex. But it seems that you are also open to any technologies in the area of graphene and 2D materials that might be licensable. Could you explain a bit more about how AMD has set itself up and what its business models and strategies are?
Advanced Material Development Ltd (AMD) is a UK-based, privately funded business recently formed to support scientific research in British universities. The first collaboration, with leading academic Professor Alan Dalton from the University of Sussex Material Physics Group will fund several distinct research streams within the field of 2D materials. AMD is already engaged in a number of key partnerships with other commercial enterprises to further work in areas such as composites, coatings, printed electronics and wearable sensors. In addition, AMD is also producing nano-dispersion inks and emulsions under the brand name “nHance” for its own internal R&D efforts and also for commercial sale.
Q: Some of the work of Alan Dalton that got the most publicity was the simple process he developed for infusing graphene into elastic bands so that they become extremely sensitive strain sensors. Is that a line of research your company is looking to commercialize? If so, what sort of landmarks have you reached in the development of this technology? If not, what went behind the decision not to follow that line of research into commercial applications?
Although AMD supplies materials into this and other ongoing projects, it is not a programme we are funding at this point. IP in this area is already well established, allocated, and outside of our core focus. Our website outlines the areas that we are keen to support.
Q: At the moment, you have likely narrowed down the technologies you are pursuing commercially. Could you say what those technologies currently are and why you chose to pursue those over some others?
One of the main areas of focus for AMD is producing nano-dispersion inks and emulsions. These support our own R&D work and also provide a foundation for bespoke materials formulations being developed for partners. This is a key reason why we choose to keep our R&D efforts within the University - to retain a critical high-end capability. Our other efforts in coatings, flexible electronics, composites and medtech sensors all sit nicely on this platform technology.
Q: In the broader market of graphene, what applications area do you see holding the most commercial potential and what is your company doing to be a part of those applications? If you are not, why have you chosen to not get involved, i.e. already too many competitors, etc.?
There are plenty of key verticals that have obvious areas of application for these materials. The graphene “fatigue” described by some early adopters comes from the frustration associated with a cure-all mentality. The hard to come-by knowledge and critical component that the team is focused on is the ability to disperse these materials into other matrices to provide a worthwhile benefit. We have chosen to support the areas of R&D where the University team can demonstrate a path to commercial interest, notably electronics in the consumer supply chain, material composites and medtech sensors where we consider there to be a realistic pathway to a commercial endgame within two years.
Q: Where do you see AMD in the value chain of graphene, i.e. a manufacturer of devices based on graphene or a company that enables other companies to make devices based on graphene?
The answer really is both. Although AMD cannot claim to be a manufacturer of devices and hence is not fully vertically integrated, it is already a materials manufacturer and is funding research with an end-game goal of prototype applications that we can then market to heavyweight commercial partners, a number of which, we are already doing early development work for or are in discussions to do so.
Q. As a company trying to bring emerging technologies to market, what do you see as the greatest challenges you face, i.e. customers resistant to change, lack of standards in graphene, etc.?
It’s been said that the greatest fear of many start-up companies is the threat of its ideas being stolen. The truth is that taking a product, however good and trying to convince someone already overwhelmed with new ideas and getting them to listen is a huge challenge. But the main problem I see at the moment is that many companies are a little burned by engaging with the graphene dream without having had the right degree of support to see the proper benefits – the lack of standards until now has been a major bugbear in this outcome and so these are vital. However, whatever the standard, no size fits all and the varying material requirements for different applications, like nature, are unlikely to conform to the categories we try to define.
Q. Over the next 5-10 years, how do you see the graphene market developing, i.e. fewer graphene producers and more downstream device producers?
I would agree with this outlook – ultimately graphene and other 2D materials will commoditize as production scales and applications become more accepted, but this will need the development of end-markets to facilitate such growth. I believe the real secret is the integration of the right formulation into devices that solve real world challenges.
touch screen displays