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Prize fund available for novel applications of graphene and other 2D materials

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 31, 2020
The Masood Enterprise Centre has opened its annual Eli & Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award competition, which offers a £70,000 prize fund for novel ideas involving graphene and other 2D materials that have the potential to be commercialised.

This prestigious award, in association with Nobel Laureate Sir Andre Geim, is awarded each year to help the implementation of commercially-viable business proposals from students, post-doctoral researchers and recent graduates of The University of Manchester based on developing the commercial prospects of graphene and other 2D materials.

The award acts as seed funding to enable budding entrepreneurs to take the first steps towards turning their novel idea into a reality. It recognises the impact that high-level, flexible, early-stage financial support has in the successful development of a business.

Prizes of £50,000 and £20,000 will be awarded to the individuals or teams who can best demonstrate how their technology relating to graphene and other 2D materials can be applied to a viable commercial opportunity.

Last year saw winning teams address key societal challenges on future energy and food security. They sought breakthroughs by using 2D materials to produce hydrogen to generate energy, and by designing polymer hydrogels to increase food production.

As in previous years, winners will also receive valuable tailored support from groups across our University, including the new state-of-the-art R&D facility, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC); its leading support infrastructure for entrepreneurs, the Masood Enterprise Centre; as well as wider networks to help the winners take the first steps towards commercialising these early-stage ideas.

The award is co-funded by the North American Foundation for The University of Manchester through the support of one of our University’s former physics students, Dr Eli Harari, founder of global flash-memory giant, SanDisk, and his wife, Britt. It recognises the role that high-level, flexible, early-stage financial support can play in the successful development of a business targeting the full commercialisation of a product or technology related to research in graphene and 2D materials.

Tags:  2D materials  Eli Harari  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  SanDisk  The Masood Enterprise Centre  University of Manchester 

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The National Graphene Institute: Five years on

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, March 20, 2020
A day that not only saw a solar eclipse, Friday, 20 March 2015, marked the start of a materials revolution: the opening of the National Graphene Institute (NGI). Since it opened its doors the NGI has played host to some of the world’s most famous faces and set the ball rolling in the advancement of graphene and other two-dimensional materials.

With its unique architectural design the NGI was designed to allow industry and academics to work side by side on new and exciting ideas.

Five years on we take a look at some of the highlights.

2015

No sooner had the paint had dried, did we see the first graphene product: the launch of the graphene lightbulb. This demonstrated the practical uses of graphene and how it could be translated into everyday products.

In June, Manchester hosted the Graphene Flagship’s Graphene Week. The world’s largest graphene and related 2D materials conference. It also included the premiere of Graphene Suite, commissioned by Brighter Sound, the NGI’s composer in residence Sara Lowes collaborated with Professor Cinzia Casirgahi and fellow researchers to create a six-part piece which explored the relationship between science and music.

October saw President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China visit the NGI. He saw the some of the latest developments in graphene applications and took at tour of the world-class facilities.

To conclude the year, the NGI was crowned Major Building Project of the Year at the annual British Construction Industry Awards. Designed by Jestico & Whiles, the NGI fought off strong competition from six other shortlisted schemes including the Weston Library at Oxford University, Five Pancras Square at Kings Cross and the Brooks Building at Manchester Metropolitan University.

2016
The city of Manchester played host to the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) and held the title of European City of Science throughout 2016. To coincide with this, partnering with the Science and Industry Museum, the first graphene exhibition was launched: Wonder Materials: Graphene and beyond. Looking into the past, present and future, this turnkey exhibition brought graphene to life, taking visitors on an immersive journey inside laboratory clean rooms and stimulating learning environments. The exhibition then went tour to Hong Kong.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the NGI in October. Amongst visiting graphene researchers and taking a tour of the impressive cleanrooms, The Duke and Duchess also celebrated the University’s Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD).

2017
An ultralight high-performance mechanical watch made with graphene was unveiled in January thanks to a unique collaboration. The University of Manchester collaborated with watchmaking brand Richard Mille and McLaren F1 to create the world’s lightest mechanical chronograph by pairing leading graphene research with precision engineering.

April saw a scientific breakthrough when a team of researchers led by Professor Rahul Raveendran Nair, developed a graphene oxide membrane which was able to filter out common salts. Known as a ‘graphene sieve’ this demonstrated real-world potential of providing clean drinking water for millions of people who struggle to access adequate clean water sources. The team have gone on to turn whisky clear and produce membranes for oil separation.

2018
Sprinting into 2018 the first graphene running shoes were launched. Collaborating with inov-8, the brand has been able to develop a graphene-enhanced rubber. Rubber outsoles were developed that in testing outlasted 1,000 miles and were scientifically proven to be 50% harder wearing.

A new national graphene characterisation service was launched, in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory. The service, allows companies to understand the properties of graphene and was established to accelerate the industrialisation of graphene in the UK – forging the missing link between graphene research and development, and its application in next generation products.

The summer also saw Newcastle host the Great Exhibition of the North. Once again we partnered with Brighter Sound to launch The Hexagon Experiment. Music, art and science collided in an explosive celebration of women’s creativity. The Hexagon Experiment featured live music, conversations and original commissions from some of the North’s most exciting musicians and scientists.

2019
News of the ‘graphene sieve’ attracted global attention in 2017, which led to Lifesaver partnering with the NGI. The 18 month project focuses on developing graphene technology that can be used for enhanced water filtration, with the goal of creating a proprietary and patented, cutting-edge product capable of eliminating an even wider range of hazardous contaminants than currently removed by its existing high performance ultra-filtration process.

2019 also saw the first operational year of the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre. Focusing on the rapid development and scale up of graphene and two dimensional materials. Together, the NGI and GEIC provide an unrivalled critical mass of graphene expertise and infrastructure. The two facilities reinforce Manchester's position as a globally leading knowledge-base in graphene research and commercialisation.

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Graphene Flagship  National Graphene Institute  University of Manchester 

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Thomas Swan announce successful Graphene application collaboration with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd., one of the UK’s leading independent chemical manufacturers, today announced that the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester have produced a fibre using Polyamide 6 and 0.2% loading of Thomas Swan Graphene Nanoplatelets (GNP’s).
 
GEIC successfully extruded and subsequently spun 1.5km of the fibre with 0.39mm diameter. This bodes well for continuing our development of graphene in Nanocomposites and shows positive traction for Thomas Swan’s commitment to Advanced Materials R&D, specifically graphene. Typical applications for this type of monofibre include carbon brushes for motors, seat belts or fishing lines.

Michael Edwards, Commercial Director – Advanced Materials at Thomas Swan said “this is yet another example of the use of our GNP in nanocomposite applications. We will continue our collaboration with the GEIC to enhance the range of polymeric solutions available for various application examples, demonstrating our continued commitment to graphene production”.
 
John Vickers, Application Specialist at GEIC said “The fibre reel was manufactured at the GEIC facility at The University of Manchester, using the Xplore fibre spin line. The Line can produce fibres at a speed of 0.5 to 90 M/min via a controlled Godet. The picture shows a fibre diameter of 0.39mm (monofilament) with 0.2% graphene addition in a PA6 polymer. The Xplore fibre spin line has the capability of spinning materials down to typically 50 microns, subject to formulation.”

Tags:  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  John Vickers  Michael Edwards  nanocomposites  polymers  Thomas Swan 

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Universities Minister celebrates Manchester’s materials reputation

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Advanced Materials were at the centre of the agenda for the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore, last week during a thorough tour of The University of Manchester campus.

The Minister visited the University to discover more about the soon-to-open Henry Royce Institute, hear about the most recent graphene developments, discover more about how the AI and robotics are helping to solve challenges faced by the nuclear industry and finally tour the north campus and future home of IDManchester.

During the tour, the Minister, who was accompanied by President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, met with leading academics and discussed breakthrough developments at the University since he last visited the campus just over a year ago.

Professor Phil Withers greeted the Minister to discuss and take-in the the new soon-to-open £150m Royce building, a new national hub for advanced materials research and commercialisation.

During the visit Chris Skidmore said: “The University of Manchester is doing amazing research in areas like x-ray imaging systems and the super material graphene. Outstanding university research like this will help build our reputation as a global science superpower while growing our economy, and it was a privilege to witness it first-hand.”

The University of Manchester is doing amazing research in areas like x-ray imaging systems and the super material graphene. Outstanding university research like this will help build our reputation as a global science superpower while growing our economy, and it was a privilege to witness it first-hand, Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

The delegation then visited state-of-the-art research facilities of the National Graphene Institute (NGI) with Professor Sir Andre Geim, who received a Nobel Prize for his work on initially isolating the two-dimensional (2D) material in 2004 and continues to explore and develop the untapped potential of related 2D materials in Manchester.

The NGI, along the with Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) forms the heart of Graphene City, an entire city-centre based end-to-end ecosystem to research, develop and commercialise unique graphene applications in tandem with industry.

A tour of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB) was also on the agenda to visit the labs at the heart of the pioneering research led by Professor Nigel Scrutton and team which was recently honoured with the Queen's Anniversary Prize. The MIB was singled out as a beacon of excellence for being at the forefront of designing a sustainable future for the UK and communities across the world by developing disruptive bio-based technologies.

The visit concluded with the Minister heading to the RAIN project which uses robotic and AI technologies to solve challenges faced by the nuclear industry. It is led by Barry Lennox, Professor of Applied Control in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering,

Tags:  2D materials  Chris Skidmore  Dame Nancy Rothwell  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Phil Withers  University of Manchester 

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Versarien plc US graphene operations update

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Versarien plc is pleased to provide an update on its US graphene operations. The Company continues to make progress with current and potential partners in the US.  As announced on 27 June 2019, the Company appointed Brian Berney as President of North American Operations at Versarien Graphene Inc., reporting to Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien.  Since then the Company has continued to enter into confidentiality agreements with potential partners to examine collaborations and develop trials in the region, including in particular, with a global tyre manufacturer.

Versarien has strengthened its US profile by attending two trade missions in Q4 2019, supported by the UK government.  In October 2019, Versarien attended the UK Supplier Showcase in Wichita, in conjunction with Spirit AeroSystems, and in December 2019 the Company was part of Innovate UK's Global Business Innovation Programme to Boston, which focused on graphene applications and technology in the electronics, composites and energy sectors.

Versarien Graphene, Inc. has a serviced office location.  Brian Berney, who is the only full-time employee in the US, is supported by the UK Company team, including from within the Company's laboratory facilities at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre in the UK. The Company also has access to third party laboratory facilities in Texas, which are utilised on a flexible basis and only as required.  This strategy is in line with the Group's approach to keep cost to a minimum and utilise customer's R&D facilities, where possible, as well as the Company's R&D expertise and available facilities in the UK.

Tags:  Brian Berney  composites  Electronics  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Neill Ricketts  Versarien  Versarien Graphene 

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Mayor praises Manchester model of innovation as graphene applications gain real pace

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, January 13, 2020
Andy Burnham, Mayor for Greater Manchester, made a fact-finding tour of facilities that are pioneering graphene innovation at The University of Manchester.

The Mayor toured the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) which is an industry-facing facility specialising in the rapid development and scale up of graphene and other 2D materials applications.

As well as state-of-the art labs and equipment, the Mayor was also shown examples of commercialisation – including the world’s first-ever sports shoes to use graphene which has been produced by specialist sports footwear company inov-8 who are based in the North.

Andy Burnham – a running enthusiast who has previously participated in a number of marathons – has promised to put a pair of graphene trainers to the test and feedback his own experiences to researchers based at The University of Manchester.

Manchester is the home of graphene - and when you see the brilliant work and the products now being developed with the help of the Graphene@Manchester team it’s clear why this city-region maintains global leadership in research and innovation around this fantastic advanced material, Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor.

By collaborating with graphene experts in Manchester, inov-8 has been able to develop a graphene-enhanced rubber which they now use for outsoles in a new range of running and fitness shoes. In testing, the groundbreaking G-SERIES shoes have outlasted 1,000 miles and are scientifically proven to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing.

“Manchester is the home of graphene - and when you see the brilliant work and the products now being developed with the help of the Graphene@Manchester team it’s clear why this city-region maintains global leadership in research and innovation around this fantastic advanced material,” said Andy Burnham.

“I have been very impressed with the exciting model of innovation the University has pioneered in our city-region, with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre playing a vital role by working with its many business partners to take breakthrough science from the lab and apply it to real world challenges.

“And thanks to world firsts, like the graphene running shoe, the application of graphene is now gaining real pace. In fact, the experts say we are approaching a tipping point for graphene commercialisation – and this is being led right here in Greater Manchester.”

Tags:  2D materials  Andy Burnham  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  inov-8  sporting goods  University of Manchester 

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Accelerating Graphene’s Commercial Deployment

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, January 13, 2020
Updated: Friday, January 10, 2020
Guest Editorial from Dr. Francis Nedvidek, Faculty of Science at the Technical University of Dresden

After initial isolation in 2004 and a decade and one-half of follow-on discovery, material research and process development, only a trickle of graphene enhanced applications have reached the market. In spite of huge progress and critical advances the so called “killer applications” have yet to appear. Commercial deployment of nanoplatelet graphene, not to mention a cohort of emerging 2D materials, face three challenges.

The first and most obvious obstacle is a consequence of graphene’s newness. Harnessing novel functionality entails painstaking searches for new recipes, non-standard ingredients and adaptation of processes, manufacturing methods and industrial infrastructure. The second hurdle relates to graphene’s assimilation into industrial scale processes and supply and distribution networks. The third challenge demands rigorous focus on the applications where customers unambiguously recognize graphene’s unique value and for which graphene-enabled solutions eclipse all contenders.

Commercial graphene-enhanced products are penetrating niche markets with formulations demonstrating cost to performance ratios decisively better than the alternatives. And the production and supply issues impeding broader commercial development of graphene-based materials - including quantity, consistency, dependability, standardized characterization, certification, traceability and purity - are being remedied. Never-the-less, the number of deployments in high-volume graphene-enhanced application remains modest.

Let’s delve deeper into why this is so; and, then explore ways to accelerate graphene’s wider-adoption.

1) Building a Better Product Using Graphene – A View from the Material Engineering Lab
Nanomaterials – to the dismay of material engineers and production plant managers - store, transport, mix and behave markedly differently from their bulk material counterparts. Not only is the graphene nano-platelet characteristically distinct from the precursor graphite, but specific flake size, topology, and nuances of compound constitution and processing particulars influence nearly every aspect of how the material performs in the final application. At best, bulk material recipes serve only - but in not all cases - as rough starting points from which to begin iterative “expeditions” into uncharted design and engineering territory. Exploiting graphene’s exemplary properties requires iteratively investigating, testing and re-evaluating formulations, modifying existing processes, and adapting contemporary production equipment.

Figure 1 - A generalized development plan for graphene material applications

2) Harnessing Graphene as Enabler

Creating a graphene-enhanced compound typically begins with selection of a specific nanoplatelet profile of lateral size, thickness, defect density, purity and topology. Functionalization, in most instances, plays a pivotal role in dispersion and therefore the molecular bonds and structures assembled within the graphene-doped host matrix which impact the properties of the final and end product. Single digit % by weight graphene concentrations (and often less than 1% by weight) are common making process precision and consistency crucial. Commercially available matrix substances (typically polymers), various bulk ingredients and chemical additives are mixed per specified quantity and according to one, or a combination of, mechanical sheer milling, ultrasonic agitation or pressurization etc., techniques. Processing duration, extrusion method and temperature are just a few of the parameters adjusted during injection molding, thermal-set molding, spin drawing, aerosol spraying, dip coating, adsorption, relief printing etc. to yield the desired end component or product. All data including recipe, ingredient concentrations, process parameters are meticulously registered both quantitatively and qualitatively. The front end of the procedure appears in the graphic of Figure 2 below.

Figure 2 – Data collection in graphene formulation discovery

The network of Figure 3 below depicts material selection, ingredient integration, processing, preparation evaluation and the filtering of outcomes cascades through a maze of options. The exercise begins with selection of the graphene supply and proceeds though to completion of a selection of final compounds or a final product. Successive attempts are sorted according to ingredient constellation, concentration level, process parameter regime etc. The outcomes most closely approaching the desired product performance and estimated per unit production cost are used for subsequent trials.

Figure 3 – Recipe discovery - a labyrinth of options

Progressive iterations eventually coalesce into a small number of potentially most suitable “material recipes and process regimes”. Further refinements culminate in material assays, sub-component samples or final product prototypes demonstrating the characteristics, behavior, supply chain ecosystem fit and benchmark economic prerequisites before undertaking scale production of the winning viable intermediate component or the end product.

3) Solve Problems & Satisfy Needs with Graphene-Enhanced Materials
A formidable assortment of options and combinations of ingredients and procedures conspire to create a graphene-enhanced product destined for use as a vehicle component, battery electrode, integrated sensor module, anticorrosion chassis coating, rubber seal or auto dashboard – or even piece of sporting gear. Formulations, masterbatches and intermediate components may be marketed/sold separately to end up in any number of downstream products and applications. The Figure 4 below displays the major product development activities according to relevant development stages.

Figure 4 - The value creation chain for a graphene-enhanced product.

The arches traversing individual upstream and downstream value creation stages represent enquiries, specification requests, test protocols, parts, components, software code and exchange of standard business documentation. This bi-directional flow of human liaisons including problem solving sessions, teleconferences, schedule update meetings and business and industry forecast exchanges ricochet between partners and among collaborators. Each link of the chain represents an enterprise bound to reconcile its own technical, operational, and logistic capabilities and economic obligations. Close and dynamic collaboration is vital in charting routes through the network promising the best chance for success of individual contributors and the end user solution.

Figure 5 below illustrates the perspective of the graphene technologists peering downstream in search of problems in need of solving. They are eager to monetize exceptional effort, personal risk, patented intellectual property and acquired know how.

Figure 5 – View from the engineering lab

Improved functionality, reduced cost of ownership, appropriate certification, higher income garnering potential etc. must render value exceeding the price in light of alternative approaches including compensation for perceived risk, switching cost or similar disadvantages. However, if the inventive engineers lack information pertaining to the end customer’s problems, needs or wants, they may not be able to precisely identify the ultimate customer or enduser.

4) Problems, Needs and Unidentified Opportunities

Customers purchasing graphene enhanced products or materials expect to enjoy or otherwise benefit from the utility generated from these graphene-enhanced products. Owing to good luck, fortuitous contacts and helpful channels via suppliers, sales agents and distribution partners, a development team can gain at least some understanding of how graphene serves the application and lends value and satisfaction to end customers. Figure 6 portrays the customer’s viewpoint.

Figure 6 – View from the customer

The benefits of graphene are diverse and varied and determined by the appraisal of the product’s functional and economic attributes by the customer and buying influencers. Cost savings, space savings, flexibility of use, physical attractiveness, prestige, ease of maintenance, product safety, peace of mind and enhanced value and finally desirability in terms of the customer’s customers are a few examples of value. An enterprise selling / delivering the value is rewarded in terms of purchase price, future repurchases, volume orders, collaborative relationships, ecosystem intelligence etc.

In the case of graphene or other novel or disruptive technologically driven innovations, any departure from standard application methods, practices or fulfillment models requires increased attention to issues not encumbering traditional or entrenched competitors – initially. Particularly for graphene, prospects with potential to disburse large orders reciprocally demand delivery quantities and lead times unattainable for shops not yet operating at industrial sale. Conversely, suppliers of ingredients, plant and equipment tend to eschew new enterprises lacking financial gravitas. Instead, innovative companies must play to their strengths: flexibility, speed and readiness to work collaboratively in revealing, inventing, testing and fine-tuning formulations and products that address the customer’s needs, mitigating the user’s problems in ways competing offers cannot. Figure 7 below summarizes how the innovator views the endeavor and the customer considers purchasing the graphene-enhanced product.

Figure 7 – Successful Innovation and the Meeting of Minds

5) Problems, Needs and Unidentified Opportunities

How does one acquire a relevant and unambiguous overview of the utility, benefit and advantages graphene products should target? Market studies offer a perspective of industry fundamentals, market size and trends, existing benchmarks and statistics. Trade shows and industry events provide information regarding the ecosystem’s competitive landscape, technological progress and future developments. However, speaking directly with customers represented by Product Managers, CTOs, Marketing Managers and Distribution Partners confers more specific and highly relevant detail. And building relationships with customer groups as well as other stakeholders proves immeasurably helpful in uncovering latent needs, unappreciated deficiencies and previously unarticulated insights.

Interactions with customers as well as upstream and downstream value chain stakeholders including suppliers, service providers and manufacturing partners typically yields highly useful information concerning production methods, process short cuts, unexpected and unexpressed potential for cost savings or unrealized means for improving product quality, logistics or utility that are normally inaccessible to laboratory denizens. Even financiers may lend assistance through discussing strategy in terms of key industry metrics, opening doors to export prospects or building bridges to large buyer consortiums and industry clusters.

Most importantly, direct interfacing and repeated interaction with value chain stakeholders - from suppliers to endusers, installers and support services – offers valuable observations and breeds trust and collaboration. A much broader and deeper reserve of know-how, skills and information may be brought to bear in seizing the maximum portion of problem space with valuable, practicable and profitable solutions, as depicted in Figure 8.

Figure 8 – Successful Innovation - a Meeting of Minds, Technology and Resources

6) Lessons Learning

Three major issues have come to light during attempts to commercialize graphene-based solutions directed at real world problems and inadequacies. Successful market innovations combine and integrate the know-how and capabilities of graphene scientists together with value chain partners to solve the customer’s problem. Value is generated and equitably distributed sufficient to incentivize all stakeholders and customers to perpetuate collaboration, production and further innovation.

Figure 9 displays the three areas where proficiency becomes vital in successfully bringing graphene-enhanced products to markets and individual customers and clients.

Figure 9 The Sweet Spot Driving Collaborative Commercially Successful Innovation

a) Technical: Solving practical problems and grasping exciting opportunities demands technically feasible, stable and scalable solutions, whether materials, formulations, compounds, components or end products.

b) Business Case: The process of delivering solutions using graphene must be economically and commercially sound and sustainable for all value creation chain contributors from the graphene supplier to the final purchaser. This holds true across contributors; viable business case must hold for each stage.

c) Stakeholders: Developing, producing and then scaling novel materials and products requires the combined interest, commitment, investment and ideas only achievable via concerted collaborative engagement and mutual reward. A team approach is essential to overcome challenges at each stage progressing from raw material to actual application and final recycling.

Graphene nanoplatelets are a substance unlike the bulk material graphite from which it is made, or like other bulk materials used in traditional product design. At an advanced level, exploiting the functional possibilities of graphene, (electrical conductivity, tensile strength, chemical affinity and compatibility with multilaminar plastic extrusion techniques, etc.) is ONLY achieved through exemplary collaboration.

7) Conclusion

Three observations are noteworthy. They allude to different ways of managing teams, dealing with uncertainty and discovering what and how products earn their worth. The journey from the lab to installation in the latest model of automobiles is a longer and more tortious path for graphene products than it has been for traditional materials. The skills threshold has been raised for business development and product management professionals orchestrating commercialization. Re-training with new conceptual tools and software aids is on the agenda for the entire team stretching from development laboratory to the end user. A refurbished and invigorated organizational dynamic will be needed to meet the challenge.

a) Graphene is a multifaceted and complex material demanding engineering ingenuity to unleash its potential. Intermediaries further down the value creation chain applying conventional equipment to fashion contemporary materials must learn to experiment, adapt, improvise and collaborate;

b) Graphene pioneers must strive via all possible means and channels to understand the process prerequisites, performance expectations and appreciated worth of innovations in the eyes of the customer, enduser but also intermediate value chain partners. The ability to deliver value to customers depends as much on uncovering and serving latent opportunities as solving salient customer urgent problems lucrative opportunities.

c) No catalogue of graphene formulations combined with common and exotic matrix materials, additives, process methods and forming techniques presently exists. Working as an extended team between vendor and customer, service provider and users along the span of the manufacturing network is vital to navigating the path toward launching commercially successful next generation of functional materials.

Tags:  2D materials  Francis Nedvidek  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Graphite  Material Engineering Lab  Nanomaterials  University of Dresden 

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Graphene Industry Showcase in Manchester

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, December 16, 2019

This week Graphene@Manchester hosted a jam-packed two-day (10-11 December) event showcasing the hottest topics in the field of graphene.

The event saw over 100 delegates take to Manchester for a chance to find out how they can benefit from working with the one-atom-thick material.

Featuring talks from BAC, inov-8 and Lifesaver, delegates were able to witness first hand the practical applications of graphene and 2D materials.

The showcase also featured an exhibition of some of the newest products and prototypes using the revolutionary material such as water filtration devices and hydrogels used for crop production to suitcases and doormats as well as the BAC Mono R- the first production car to use graphene-enhanced carbon fibre in each body panel.

Delegates also had the opportunity to participate in practical hands on workshops in the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) focusing on subjects such as energy, printed electronics, health and safety and standards and characterisation.

James Baker, CEO Graphene@Manchester said: “We are now seeing rapid developments and an increasing change of pace over the last year, dramatically changing the graphene landscape. More products are entering the market using graphene and we’re starting to see real-world benefits living up to the early excitement of just a few years ago.

With the National Graphene Institute and GEIC, our infrastructure is designed to work in collaboration with industry partners to create, test and optimise new concepts for delivery to market.”

“We are now seeing rapid developments and an increasing change of pace over the last year, dramatically changing the graphene landscape.„

James Baker, CEO Graphene@Manchester

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Tuesday evening also offered a rare chance to hear from Nobel laureate Professor Sir Andre Geim, on his creative approach to scientific research, from levitating frogs to the fascinating phenomena of what happens to discarded graphite after graphene has been made.

The GEIC focuses on industry-led application development in partnership with academics. It will fill a critical gap in the graphene and 2D materials ecosystem by providing facilities which focus on pilot production, characterisation, together with application development in composites, energy, solution formulations and coatings, electronics and membranes.

Tags:  2D materials  Electronics  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Healthcare  James Baker  University of Manchester 

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Entrepreneur has sustainability challenge covered - with a SpaceMat

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, December 12, 2019
An entrepreneurial academic from The University of Manchester has produced a prototype graphene-enhanced product that could help the UK recycle tonnes of unwanted tyres – a waste product that is sometimes shipped overseas for disposal.

It is claimed that Western countries like the UK export waste tyres to developing nations like India where they are destroyed by burning - and so impacting on the local environment.

Dr Vivek Koncherry has launched a company called SpaceBlue Ltd that aims to recycle waste tyres by converting them into attractive and extremely hardwearing floor mats which have been enhanced with tiny amounts of graphene.

The hexagon-shaped SpaceMat™ can interlock to cover any desired floor area. They can be used at the entrances of homes, offices, public and industrial buildings, as well as wider applications such as anti-fatigue or anti-slip coverings in areas like workplaces, gyms, playgrounds and swimming pools.

Prototype mats will be revealed at a Graphene Industry Showcase to be hosted on December 10 and 11 at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC). This two-day event aims to put a spotlight on innovations associated with graphene and two-dimensional materials and will therefore feature a wide range of pioneering products.

“The innovation ecosystem at Manchester has been really supportive to someone like me who has a new business idea they want to take to market,” explained Dr Koncherry, who is an expert in materials applications and new manufacturing techniques.

“It all began when I first read newspaper reports that several thousand tonnes of waste UK tyres are being shipped abroad each year for disposal. I thought that needs to change and I became determined to find a much more sustainable way of using this end-of-life product.

“The intention of SpaceBlue is to enhance the physical properties of recycled rubber waste that has come from discarded vehicle tyres or footwear - and convert this material into a high-value product,” explained Dr Koncherry.

“The intention of SpaceBlue is to enhance the physical properties of recycled rubber waste that has come from discarded vehicle tyres or footwear - and convert this material into a high-value product”
Dr Vivek Koncherry

“SpaceMat™ is made of up to 80 per cent recycled rubber plus 20 per cent of graphene-enhanced natural rubber. Floor mats undergo compression and a fundamental study had shown that by adding graphene into the rubber it can double the compression strength - and this in turn increases durability.”

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, added: “Vivek’s vision to support a more sustainable society by creating a better performing product through the use of graphene is really exciting and has already generated interest.

“Moreover, we’re looking forward to collaborating with SpaceBlue via our ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme which will further support the development of the mats.”

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) the ‘Bridging the Gap’ initiative has been developed to proactively engage with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Greater Manchester and allow them to explore and apply graphene and other advanced two-dimensional materials in a wide range of applications and markets.

Tags:  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  James Baker  University of Manchester  Vivek Koncherry 

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Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award 2019 Winners Announced

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Two new technology businesses share this year’s £70,000 prize for novel applications of graphene and other 2D materials. The two teams, based at The University of Manchester, are addressing key societal challenges on future energy and food security. They are seeking breakthroughs by using 2D materials to produce hydrogen to generate energy, and by designing polymer hydrogels to increase food production.

The Eli and Britt Harari Enterprise Award, in association with Nobel Laureate Sir Andre Geim, is awarded each year to help the implementation of commercially-viable business proposals from students, post-doctoral researchers and recent graduates of The University of Manchester based on developing the commercial prospects of graphene and other 2D materials.

The first prize of £50,000 was awarded to NanoPlexus and its founding team Jae Jong Byun, Dr. Suelen Barg, Francis Moissinac, Wenji Yang and Thomas Moissinac. Jae and Wenji are undertaking their PhD studies in Dr. Suelen Barg’s research group (Nano3D), with Francis starting in September. Thomas is an aerospace engineering graduate from The University of Manchester. The team has worked under the Nano3D lab in formulating their idea into a marketable product.

NanoPlexus will be developing a range of products using their platform technology; the unique nano-material aerogel technology will offer cost-effective renewable hydrogen production with increased material efficiency for a sustainable green-economy.

Jae said: “Recently, there has been an increased footprint and sense of urgency to transition into renewable energy to tackle climate change. Our concept is ideally positioned to support this transition by acting as a stepping-stone for innovative technology growth into conventional energy systems. Our idea of 2D material-based cells supports the forecasted need of renewable energy implementation, as it uses low to zero carbon energy resources.”

Our commitment to the support of entrepreneurship across the University has never been stronger and is a vital part of our approach to the commercialisation of research. Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Francis added: “We are very grateful to Eli and Britt Harari for their generosity and for the support of the University, which will enable us to develop our novel concept that could one day make a meaningful difference; connecting innovation to convention.”

The runner-up, receiving £20,000, was AEH Innovative Hydrogel Ltd, founded by Beenish Siddique. Beenish has recently graduated with a PhD from the School of Materials. Her technology aims to provide an eco-friendly hydrogel to farmers that, not only increases crop production but also has potential to grow crops in infertile and water stressed lands, with minimum use of water and fertilisers.

Beenish said: “Many farmers, especially in third world countries with warmer climates, are interested in my product. I have a solution that offers higher crop yield with less water and fertiliser usage, hence, less greenhouse gases emission and a much cleaner environment.”

The quality of the business proposals presented in this year’s finals was exceptionally high. Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester and one of the judges for this year’s competition said: “Our commitment to the support of entrepreneurship across the University has never been stronger and is a vital part of our approach to the commercialisation of research. The support provided by Eli Harari over the last five years has enabled new and exciting ventures to be developed. It provides our winners the early-stage funding that is so vital to creating a significant business, while also contributing to health and social benefit. With support from our world-leading graphene research facilities I am certain that they are on the path to success.”

The winners will also receive support from groups across the University, including the University’s new state-of-the-art R&D facility, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC); its leading support infrastructure for entrepreneurs, the Masood Enterprise Centre; as well as wider networks to help the winners take the first steps towards commercialising these early stage ideas.

The award is co-funded by the North American Foundation for The University of Manchester through the support of one of the University’s former physics students, Dr Eli Harari, founder of global flash-memory giant, SanDisk, and his wife, Britt. It recognises the role that high-level, flexible, early-stage financial support can play in the successful development of a business targeting the full commercialisation of a product or technology related to research in graphene and 2D materials.

Tags:  2D materials  AEH Innovative Hydrogel Ltd  Andre Geim  Beenish Siddique  Eli Harari  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Jae Jong Byun  Luke Georghiou  NanoPlexus  SanDisk  Suelen Barg  Thomas Moissinac  Wenji Yang 

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