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First Graphene signs exclusive supply agreement with Steel Blue

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, February 12, 2020
First Graphene Ltd, the leading global producer of advanced graphene products, has signed an exclusive supply agreement with Steel Blue, a major global manufacturer of work boots. Under the supply agreement, Steel Blue will exclusively source graphene and any other graphite or graphene products from First Graphene over a 2-year term.

First Graphene recently partnered with Steel Blue to develop an effective manufacturing process, with graphene being incorporated successfully into thermoplastic polyurethane masterbatches, used for the production of the soles and other components of safety boots. This work was followed by wear trials and independent product testing by Viclab Pty Ltd, one of Australia’s leading NATA accredited testing facilities. The results showed an increase in abrasion and tensile strength, potentially leading to extended product life, plus enhanced heat transfer and reduction in weight.

First Graphene’s Managing Director, Craig McGuckin, explains that, “The new supply agreement highlights the confidence that Steel Blue has in our PureGRAPH® materials and in our ability to deliver large volumes of graphene over an extended period. PureGRAPH® has the ability to help our customers throughout industry transform the characteristics of existing products and materials. For example, PureGRAPH® additives are a key enabler in taking elastomers, composites, coatings and concrete to new levels of performance and we’re actively working with customers in these sectors. As a result, we anticipate that the supply agreement with Steel Blue will be the first in a growing number to be signed during 2020.”

Chief Executive Officer, at Steel Blue, Garry Johnson, commented, “Steel Blue is committed to developing innovative solutions for our customers. We’re excited by the innovations we have developed with First Graphene. We look forward to bringing exciting new safety technologies to the global work boot market.”

Tags:  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Garry Johnson  Graphene  Graphite  Steel Blue  Viclab Pty Ltd 

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First Graphene's Strong Advances in VFD Development

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, January 28, 2020

First Graphene Limited  is pleased to provide an update of the work conducted in conjunction with 2D Fluidics Pty Ltd on the Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD) at the Company’s facilities at the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester, UK and Flinders University

Background Summary on Graphene Oxide
Graphene oxide (GO) is the chemically modified derivative of graphene, whereby the basal planes and edges have been functionalised with oxygen containing functional groups such as hydroxyl, epoxy and carboxyl groups. These oxygen functionalities make GO hydrophilic and therefore dispersible, forming homogenous colloidal suspensions in water and most organic solvents. This makes it ideal for use in a range of applications.

To date, the most widely used process for the synthesis of graphene oxide is Hummer’s method. This typically  requires strong acids and oxidants, such as potassium chlorate (KClO3), nitric acid (HNO3), concentrated sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and potassium permanganate (KMnO4). Much work has been done to improve the synthesis methods while maintaining high surface oxidation, however these all required strong acids and oxidants.

Through its subsidiary 2D Fluidics Pty Ltd, FGR is developing a more benign processing route for oxidised graphene. The objective is to provide controlled levels of surface oxygen functionality to give better easier compatibility in aqueous and organic systems. This will not incur the higher oxygen (and other defect) levels which result from Hummer’s method and its subsequent reduction steps. It will also provide the ability to “tune or optimise” the surface oxidation level to suit respective applications.

FGR’s method synthesises GO directly from bulk graphite using aqueous H2O2 as the green oxidant. Different energy sources have been used for the conversion of H2O2 molecules into more active peroxidic species, such as a combination of a pulsed Nd:YAG laser and/or other light sources. The irradiation promotes the dissociation of H2O2 into hydroxyl radicals which then leads to surface oxidation.

The technology has been successfully transferred to the FGR laboratories at the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester where it has undergone further development and optimisation to identify, understand and resolve future upscaling issues.

XPS analysis showed that the use of pre-treatment step in combination with the near infrared laser gave oxidised graphene sheets with an average surface oxidation of ~30- 35%: this will enhance compatibility with aqueous systems.

Further trials have already demonstrated that the two-step process is reproducible and versatile, with the ability to process different starting materials of graphite. The multi- disciplinary team has identified that control of the feed rate and energy input will allow us to control the surface oxidation, providing a consistent material that can be tailored as required for a range of applications.

Figure 5 shows that increase in surface oxygen content for two starting materials: graphite ore (top) and PureGRAPH® graphene (bottom). As we go through the two-  stage process, in both cases the surface oxygen functionality increases. The end- product has a range of functional groups, including C-O, C=O and COOH.

Next Steps
Operating parameters will now be established to provide yield data for future use in scaling the system for commercial production. It will also commence examining the end applications including, but not limited to the use in electronic devices, testing levels of toxicity for biological applications, for water filtration membranes and incorporation in membranes for studying anti-fouling properties.

Craig McGuckin, Managing Director of FGR, said, “The complementary characterisation techniques used to confirm the synthesis of oxidised graphene gives us confidence we are on the right route towards fabricating a material which is comparable to  the historical GO fabricated using the conventional Hummers method. We are  now  reviewing end applications and thus exploring a number of avenues which include but are not limited to the use in devices, testing levels of toxicity for biological applications, for water filtration membranes and incorporation in membranes for studying anti-fouling properties.”

Tags:  2D Fluidics Pty Ltd  2D materials  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Flinders University  Graphene  Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre  graphene oxide 

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First Graphene Announces Steel Blue Signs Supply Agreement

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, January 27, 2020

First Graphene is pleased to announce the execution of a supply agreement with Footwear Industries Pty Ltd (trading as “Steel Blue”) for the exclusive supply of PureGRAPH®10 for a twenty-four month term (“Supply Agreement”).

In August 2019, FGR announced that it was able to successfully incorporate PureGRAPH® into a thermoplastic polyurethane (“TPU”). Previously, the ability to successfully disperse graphene into a TPU masterbatch had been a major limitation for the graphene industry. Extensive research by FGR has resulted in a manufacturing method which has overcome this.

While existing TPU’s already possess high abrasion resistance and tensile strength, the incorporation of PureGRAPH® has improved mechanical properties while providing additional benefits in thermal heat transfer and chemical resistance whilst also reducing permeability.

Steel Blue will look to release future work boots with graphene components, including a TPU sole. This will potentially provide new design solutions and improvements in manufacturing processes and the comfort of the boot.

As announced on 15 November 2019, tests on prototype boots were conducted at Viclab Pty Ltd, one of Australia’s leading NATA accredited and independent mechanical testing services. The prototype boots complied with the following test procedures:

Impact resistance
Upper to outsole bond
Interlayer bond strength
Slip resistance on ceramic tile floor with NaLS and on steel floor with glycerine
Sole crack resistance
Tear strength
Abrasion (TPU)
Tensile
Hydrolysis
Fuel oil resistance
Chemical exposure (NaOH)

By including PureGRAPH® additives into the sole, improvements in key properties such as tear strength and abrasion resistance have been measured. Steel Blue have continued to test different applications and processes, with ongoing measuring of outcomes by Viclab Pty Ltd.

Upon successful testing, Steel Blue will look to incorporate PureGRAPH into existing and future models of boots, including the mid-sole and Metguard.

Other Key Terms of Supply Agreement
Pursuant to the Supply Agreement, Steel Blue will exclusively source graphene and any other graphite or graphene products from FGR.

FGR’s supply of its graphene products to Steel Blue will initially be exclusive for application in the production of safety footwear for sale in Australia and New Zealand. Following the initial term, exclusivity will only be available to Steel Blue if Steel Blue has achieved (and continues to maintain) a minimum order quantity. The initial minimum order quantity to be achieved in the second year of the Supply Agreement is two (2) tonnes of PureGRAPH®. Based on the currently agreed ordering schedule, product supply to Steel Blue in year one is anticipated to progress to an annualised basis of one (1) tonne as adoption commences across the Steel Blue footwear range and product lines.

Each party has the right to early termination if there is a material breach of the obligations of the other party. Additionally, Steel Blue has the option to extend the initial 24-month term for an additional 48 months.
 
Craig McGuckin, Managing Director for First Graphene Ltd., said, “The execution of this Supply Agreement represents the first of several anticipated for 2020. We are pleased to have worked with Steel Blue to develop a unique range of safety boots for local and export markets. Graphene is helping our customers to develop new products not previously seen with non-graphene technologies. PureGRAPH® additives are a key enabler in taking elastomers, composites, coatings and concrete materials to a new level and we will continue to seek out further new applications and markets where graphene can add value.”

Garry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Steel Blue said “Steel Blue is committed to developing innovative solutions for our customers. We’re excited by the product we have developed with First Graphene. These are two innovative, Western Australian founded companies who are taking new technologies to a world market.’’

Tags:  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Garry Johnson  Graphene  Steel Blue 

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Nano-enhanced Boots Successfully Passed Safety Tests

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, October 14, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2019
First Graphene, in collaboration with Steel Blue, has successfully completed safety tests for graphene-enhanced boots which will be used in various industrial sectors. This is the first time that graphene has been used successfully in thermoplastic polyurethane masterbatch, which presents considerable benefits including improved wear and chemical resistance, enhanced heat transfer, and reduced permeability.

This is the first time that graphene has successfully been incorporated into a thermoplastic polyurethane masterbatch and offers considerable advantages, including even greater wear and chemical resistance, better thermal heat transfer and reduced permeability.

Steel Blue is a major global manufacturer of work boots, with a reputation for innovative design to improve comfort, durability and safety. The adoption of graphene to boost these features still further is a continuation of this philosophy, as Chief Executive Officer, Garry Johnson, explains, “Steel Blue is committed to developing innovative solutions for our customers. We’re excited by these recent developments with First Graphene and look forward to delivering these solutions to our market.”

The prototype boots have been manufactured using First Graphene’s PureGRAPH 10 graphene powder. Unlike competing formulations, this is available in high production volumes with non-aggregated, uniform sized graphene nanoplatelets; this ensures that it disperses evenly in thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) masterbatches.

The prototype boots incorporate PureGRAPH-infused TPU soles and polyurethane foam innersoles and will now undergo extensive laboratory testing, followed by field trials. Craig McGuckin, Managing Director for First Graphene said, “The development work with Steel Blue provides yet another example of how we’re working with customers to commercialise the development of graphene, to transform the properties of materials used in many different applications, from elastomers and composites, to concrete and specialised industrial coatings.”

Tags:  coatings  composites  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Garry Johnson  Graphene  graphene enhanced polymer  Steel Blue 

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First Graphene announce PureGRAPH Incorporated into Steel Blue Safety Boots

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, August 28, 2019
First Graphene is pleased to advise that in conjunction with Steel Blue have manufactured prototype sets of safety boots incorporating PureGRAPH®10.

The boots were made last week at Steel Blue’s Malaga WA factory and incorporated PureGRAPH® into the safety capped boot TPU soles and polyurethane foam innersole.

Full boots and the sole samples will be exposed to extensive laboratory tests which are expected to exceed current industry standards for safety footwear. Following laboratory testing it is anticipated extensive field trials, will be conducted, lasting approximately six months.

The incorporation of PureGRAPH® into a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a major advance for FGR. Previously, the successful dispersion of graphene into a TPU masterbatch has been a major graphene industry issue. Extensive research by FGR has resulted in a manufacturing method which has overcome what was previously seen as a real issue.

While existing TPU’s already possess high abrasion resistance and tensile strength it is anticipated the incorporation of PureGRAPH® will improve mechanical properties while providing additional benefits in thermal heat transfer, chemical resistance and reduced permeability. 

FGR will be conducting extensive laboratory tests on the PureGRAPH® infused TPU and polyurethane foam inner sole in Australia and Manchester. Steel Blue safety boot properties are being enhanced by PureGRAPH® in the Metatarsal Guard (Steel Blue’s Met-Guard), which is specially designed to protect the metatarsal area of the foot that extends from the toes. This is a popular choice for mining workers, factory hands and drillers, who often need the extra protection the Met-Guard affords. 

The incorporation of PureGRAPH® in the Met-Guard will improve both flexibility and strength of the product.

“The development work with Steel Blue provides yet another example of FGR working on real industrial applications” said Craig McGuckin, Managing Director First Graphene Ltd. “Like FGR, Steel Blue is an Australian company and the world leader in its field of safety boots systems. These developments continue to enhance that reputation.”

Garry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Steel Blue said “Steel Blue is committed to developing innovative solutions for our customers. We’re excited by these recent developments with FGR and look forward to delivering these solutions to our market.’’

Tags:  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Garry Johnson  Graphene  PureGRAPH®  Ross Fitzgerald  Steel Blue 

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First Graphene to Participate in Global Graphene Industrial Events

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, April 5, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2019

First Graphene, is pleased to announce it will be attending key industry events in April and May, including the IDTechEx Show in Berlin on 10th and 11th April 2019 and the American Graphene Summit in Washington DC on 21st and 22nd May 2019. Attendance of these conferences is integral to the marketing campaign elevating the Company’s presence and underlining its ability to supply industry with high quality PureGRAPH™ in tonnage volumes. 

First Graphene will showcase their industry-leading range of PureGRAPH™ graphene products and demonstrate the progress made with industrial-scale customers in composite and elastomer applications. 

IDTechEx Show, 10-11 April 2019, Berlin 

Dr Andy Goodwin (Chief Technology Officer) and Paul Ladislaus (Senior Process Engineer) will attend the exhibition. Andy Goodwin will also give a presentation at the conference titled “Delivering the Graphene Revolution”.

First Graphene will provide an update on the characterisation of PureGRAPH™ which confirms the excellent quality of these low defect, high aspect ratio, few layer graphene products and how these technical features enhance the properties of polymer composites. The latest examples of commercially adopted applications will be reviewed together with an update on the regulatory status of the PureGRAPH™ product range. The Company will also display table top examples of graphene adoption in industrial applications. 

The IDTechEx Show covers a number of high-growth emerging technologies, providing insight on the applications and latest technical and market progress of each. 

Craig McGuckin, Managing Director First Graphene Ltd commented “Attending these events is part of our ongoing programme to introduce First Graphene to target markets and in the case of the Graphene Summit to support the global growth of the graphene
industry”.

Tags:  Andy Goodwin  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Graphene  Neil Armstrong  Paul Ladislaus 

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First Graphene Presents at Graphene Automotive 2019 in Detroit

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, March 7, 2019
First Graphene's  Chief Technology Officer, Dr Andy Goodwin made a presentation at the Graphene Automotive 2019 conference and exhibition in Detroit on 4th and 5th March 2019. Andy was also invited to chair Day 1 of the conference. 

First Graphene provided an update on the measures that have been implemented to ensure the batch to batch quality of PureGRAPH™ products manufactured at Henderson, Western Australia. The Company also presented the latest information on the fundamental properties of PureGRAPH™ products underlining these are righty called graphene materials and also contained an update of progress in key applications. 

The new fundamental data indicates PureGRAPH™ is a low-defect, high aspect ratio graphene product with low metal and silicon contaminations levels. PureGRAPH™ has been shown by microscopy to contain high levels of Few Layer Graphene platelets. Raman analysis indicates the average platelet thickness is < 10 layers. 

One of the impediments to a more rapid commercialisation of graphene has been the inconsistency of quality material available for purchase. While many organisations state they can produce graphene, buyers have had issues with quality. Recognising this issue, FGR has gone to considerable lengths to ensure a high-quality product fit for delivery to industry.

"We continue to implement testing and monitoring tools that ensure the quality of PureGRAPH™ products for our customers” said Craig McGuckin, Managing Director First Graphene Ltd. “we will also continue to publish the more fundamental information on our products as this information becomes available from our ongoing collaborations with leading universities”. 

Tags:  Andy Goodwin  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Graphene  graphene platelets 

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