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Manchester MBAs identify opportunities for graphene

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, June 29, 2020
The International Business Consultancy Project is the capstone of the Full-time MBA. Our MBAs work in multinational teams to pitch for a client with a global business challenge, then undertake three months of full-time consultancy with international travel. This year, one team worked with the University's Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) to identify new opportunities in the energy storage market.

Graphene was first isolated in 2004 by two researchers at The University of Manchester, Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov. Andre and Kostya won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering work. Graphene is the lightest, most conductable material on earth with potential applications across many fields - from medicine to energy. The project took our MBAs overseas to Germany, France, the USA and India. We caught up with them to find out more.

Why did you choose this client brief?

The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) is an R&D facility at The University of Manchester, which focuses on driving the commercialisation of graphene and other 2D materials. The project aimed to provide a strategic market study to find potential market opportunities for GEIC in the Energy Storage Device (ESD) space (supercapacitors and batteries in particular).

We chose this project because it was very comprehensive: it included market research, partnership identification, financial modelling and projection. The team members could therefore utilise their different skill sets to contribute to the project. In addition, the energy storage device industry presented a new market for the team to explore and develop knowledge of.

How did you approach the brief?

The team used a 'bottom-up' approach instead of the traditional 'top down' methodology to analyse the key findings and provide recommendations. This idea came from our supervisor, Dr. Mike Arundale, who gave us a lot of support during the project. To be specific, the team produced a detailed case study of one specific company for each market segment, then made a projection for that segment and finally analysed the whole industry.

Which countries did you travel to and why?

Based on the secondary research, the team identified the USA, China, South Korea, Japan, India, Germany and France as the potential markets for GEIC to focus on and explore future partnership opportunities in. 45 interviews were held across Germany, France, the USA, China and India between February 6 and March 13, 2020. 

Due to the unexpected Coronavirus situation, in the end the team was only able to travel to the USA, India, Germany and France. This meant that 30 of the interviews were held face-to-face and 15 were conducted by conference call with Chinese, Japanese and South Korean companies.

What was the biggest challenge and what was the biggest achievement? 

 "At the initial stage, the biggest challenge was understanding the technical information and benefits of graphene. The biggest achievement was that we were able to understand the industry and reach the goal of finding potential partnerships for the client. It was a collaborative effort." - Lissete Flores, Peruvian

"The most challenging task was getting connections for primary research. My project was to search for partnerships for the client in three major markets: the USA, Europe and India. As we needed to build connections from scratch for face-to-face interviews or site visits, my team discussed how to ‘tackle’ interviewees strategically with the best professional practice in order to build professional relationships and get appointments for in-person interviews." 

"The biggest achievement was reaching out to potential partners for our client. Since our client's business is based on the licensing fee from partners, the potential deals are red blood being pumped to the heart of the business." - Pann Boonyavanich, Thai

"The biggest challenges were developing a good technical understanding of graphene as a 2D material and its numerous applications, which span multiple industries, and understanding the advantages of graphene and how it can be used in real-life applications. These elements were key to delivering the commercial aspects of the project. This became further challenging because the technology is quite nascent and there is not a lot of in-depth information available on the internet, which resulted in the team having to rely mostly on primary research."

"The biggest achievement was the team being able to successfully navigate the uncertainty brought on by the Covid-19 crisis and deliver on all the deliverables outlined in the project." - Ritwick Mukherjee, Indian

"For me, the biggest challenge was finding the relevant people to interview, getting them to agree to an interview and then fitting this into our travelling window. Some people were on annual leave and some could not meet with us for reasons related to Covid-19. Others did not reply till we were actually in the US, and a couple of companies worked with the US military and therefore most of their operational information was classified. Pann and I were on the east coast of the US and had to manage travelling and interviews in Boston, New York, Tennessee, Detroit and Chicago. Memorable journeys to interview potential partners include taking four flights in one day (a round trip from New York to Tennessee); and driving for six hours through a snowstorm to get to an interview in Chicago."

"The biggest achievement was realising during an interview that the company had synergies, problems or solutions that would match well with our client. It was very rewarding to be able to provide partnerships that would generate new revenue streams for our client and therefore justify their faith and investment in our team. Getting closer to each other and working well as a team was also a big achievement." - Timeyin Akerele, British-Nigerian

"Apart from the above mentioned by my team members, I also want to highlight that we had to change our interview plan entirely from China to Europe within just one week. We did the research again and identified Germany and France to replace the original destination, China, due to the unexpected Coronavirus situation. It was intensive to replan the interview travel and redo the budget, but it was also a valuable learning experience. This has motivated me to always be resilient when faced with uncertainties."

"The biggest achievements were, firstly, the team successfully helped the client find potential partners with detailed contacts for further discussion by using a new approach, the 'bottom-up' approach. Secondly, the team had a great chance to gain knowledge of the energy storage devices industry, and the value that advanced materials such as graphene can bring to the industry. Personally, I had no knowledge of this before." - Xingbo Wu, Chinese

What were the results and recommendations? 

The total market size of supercapacitor applications globally is worth around £2.27 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of ~20% between 2020-2030 and three key application industry segments: consumer electronics, automotive and power grid.

Companies that have an R&D gap that could be filled by graphene, in order to better meet customer demands, are potential partners for GEIC. For example, large manufacturers who lack supercapacitor product lines, or small manufacturers.

When targeting potential partnerships, the team recommended that GEIC should highlight its competitive position. GEIC is the only establishment offering capabilities in graphene, batteries, supercapacitors and biomedical fields, with a focus on both research and the commercialisation and scale-up of new technologies. 

How would you sum up your experience in three words?   

Lissete: Challenging - Teamwork - Fun

Pann: Dynamic - VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) - Exciting

Ritwick: Pushing - New - Frontiers

Timeyin: Amazing - Unpredictable - Teamwork

Xingbo: Uncertain - Unforgettable - United

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Lissete Flores  Pann Boonyavanich  Ritwick Mukherjee  Supercapacitor  Timeyin Akerele  University of Manchester  Xingbo Wu 

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Manchester launches spin-out to bring innovative water-filtration technology to market

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, June 20, 2020
Scientists and innovation experts from The University of Manchester have worked together to successfully develop a new, market-ready technology using 2D materials that could be a game-changer for the water filtration sector.
ollowing an 18-month technical development and business planning programme - funded by the University - the team of innovators has launched a spin-out company called Molymem Limited to help take the new membrane product into the marketplace. The technology has applications in the pharmaceutical, wastewater management and food and beverage sectors.

The breakthrough development of a high-performing membrane coating is based around a new class of 2D materials, pioneered by Manchester researchers Professor Rob Dryfe and Dr Mark Bissett (pictured right), working with Clive Rowland, team leader for the Molymem project and the University’s Associate Vice-President for Intellectual Property.

Clive explained that membranes are used globally for separation applications in a wide range of valuable markets. “But all of these applications can be expensive,” he added. “They consume high energy and are prone to fouling - and, as a result, require frequent deep cleaning with corrosive chemicals. This causes lost production time and, due to the harsh nature of chemicals being used, it also leads to a deterioration in membrane quality over time.”

Using chemically modified molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), which is widely available at low cost and easily processed, Molymem has developed an energy-efficient and highly versatile membrane coating.

Fast-track innovation
Much of the lab-to-market work was carried out at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), which is dedicated to the fast-tracking of pilot innovation around graphene and other 2D materials. Graphene is the world’s first man-made 2D material and offers a range of disruptive capabilities.

Molymem is now ideally placed to raise investment capital to embark on its commercial journey – and interest has already been shown by industrial partners.

James Baker, CEO Graphene@Manchester, said: “The Molymem project demonstrates how the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre can help to accelerate a breakthrough development in materials science into a brand-new, market-ready product.

“Molymem will now be mentored within the Graphene@Manchester innovation ecosystem as part our portfolio of graphene-based spin-outs. This includes bespoke support such as fundraising for future business development and rapid market development.”

Clive Rowland added: “Over the summer, I will hand-over the team leadership to Ray Gibbs, who is managing the University's graphene and 2D materials spin-out portfolio. Ray will look to fundraise and help take Molymem to the next stage of its exciting innovation journey.”

Tags:  2D materials  Clive Rowland  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  James Baker  Mark Bissett  Rob Dryfe  University of Manchester  water purification 

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Graphene smart textiles developed for heat adaptive clothing

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, June 18, 2020
New research on the two-dimensional (2D) material graphene has allowed researchers to create smart adaptive clothing which can lower the body temperature of the wearer in hot climates.

A team of scientists from The University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute have created a prototype garment to demonstrate dynamic thermal radiation control within a piece of clothing by utilising the remarkable thermal properties and flexibility of graphene. The development also opens the door to new applications such as, interactive infrared displays and covert infrared communication on textiles.

The human body radiates energy in the form of electromagnetic waves in the infrared spectrum (known as blackbody radiation). In a hot climate it is desirable to make use the full extent of the infrared radiation to lower the body temperature which can be achieved by using infrared-transparent textiles. As for the opposite case, infrared-blocking covers are ideal to minimise the energy loss from the body. Emergency blankets are a common example used to deal with treating extreme cases of body temperature fluctuation.

The collaborative team of scientists demonstrated the dynamic transition between two opposite states by electrically tuning the infrared emissivity (the ability to radiate energy) of graphene layers integrated onto textiles.

One-atom thick graphene was first isolated and explored in 2004 at The University of Manchester. Its potential uses are vast and research has already led to leaps forward in commercial products including; batteries, mobile phones, sporting goods and automotive.

The new research published today in journal Nano Letters, demonstrates that the smart optical textile technology can change its thermal visibility. The technology uses graphene layers to control of thermal radiation from textile surfaces.

The successful demonstration of the modulation of optical properties on different forms of textile can leverage the ubiquitous use of fibrous architectures and enable new technologies operating in the infrared and other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum for applications including textile displays, communication, adaptive space suits, and fashion. Professor Coskun Kocabas

Professor Coskun Kocabas, who led the research, said: “Ability to control the thermal radiation is a key necessity for several critical applications such as temperature management of the body in excessive temperature climates. Thermal blankets are a common example used for this purpose. However, maintaining these functionalities as the surroundings heats up or cools down has been an outstanding challenge.”

Prof Kocabas added: “The successful demonstration of the modulation of optical properties on different forms of textile can leverage the ubiquitous use of fibrous architectures and enable new technologies operating in the infrared and other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum for applications including textile displays, communication, adaptive space suits, and fashion.”

This study built on the same group’s previous research using graphene to create thermal camouflage which was able to fool infrared cameras. The new research can also be integrated into existing mass-manufacture textile materials such as cotton. To demonstrate, the team developed a prototype product within a t-shirt allowing the wearer to project coded messages invisible to the naked eye but readable by infrared cameras.

“We believe that our results are timely showing the possibility of turning the exceptional optical properties of graphene into novel enabling technologies. The demonstrated capabilities cannot be achieved with conventional materials.

“The next step for this area of research is to address the need for dynamic thermal management of earth-orbiting satellites. Satellites in orbit experience excesses of temperature, when they face the sun and they freeze in the earth’s shadow. Our technology could enable dynamic thermal management of satellites by controlling the thermal radiation and regulate the satellite temperature on demand.” said Kocabas.

Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov was also involved in the research: “This is a beautiful effect, intrinsically routed in the unique band structure of graphene. It is really exciting to see that such effects give rise to these high-tech applications.” he said.

Tags:  2D material  Coskun Kocabas  Graphene  nanoparticles  textile  University of Manchester 

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First Graphene Joins Europe’s Flagship Programme

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, June 9, 2020
First Graphene Ltd has been accepted as an Associate Member of the EU Graphene Flagship. The company joins the €1 billion EU funded programme at a crucial time as the Flagship transitions from R&D to commercialisation and requires graphene manufacturers with industrial supply capability.

The Graphene Flagship has a budget of €1 billion and coordinates nearly 170 academic and industrial research groups in 21 countries and has more than 90 associate members.  FGR through its UK subsidiary is the first Australian entity to be admitted to the consortium.

The Graphene Flagship is tasked with bringing together academic and industrial researchers to take graphene from the realm of academic laboratories into European society in the space of 10 years, thus generating economic growth, new jobs and new opportunities.

This follows the Company also joining the BSI and ISO/TC229 working groups for the development of graphene characterisation standards, thereby ensuring alignment of the Company’s quality processes with the emerging international standards.

First Graphene intends to stay at the leading edge in terms of controlling the quality of graphene related products.  The Company continues to invest in its processing capability through measurement and automation and is a Tier 1 Member of the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at the University of Manchester with direct access to world-class analytical equipment and techniques and supporting expertise.  The Company will continue to invest in analytical methods and process tools to ensure world leading PureGRAPH® product quality for our customers.

Craig McGuckin, Managing Director for First Graphene Ltd, said, “FGR joining the EU Graphene Flagship at this time is auspicious, as FGR continues to commercialise it PureGRAPH® range of graphene powders.  As the world leader in the production of large volume, high quality graphene powders membership of this organisation is at an appropriate time as various projects transition from R&D to commercialisation.”

Tags:  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  University of Manchester 

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Graphene@Manchester teams up with Highways England

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Highways England has again joined forces with graphene experts at The University of Manchester to deliver a new package of innovations.

The research partnership will support a series of projects to investigate how graphene – the world’s first 2D material and boasting unique properties – can help Highways England overcome a number of challenges facing the nation’s motorways and highways.

The new package of work, which has been commissioned by the government company, follows previous research carried out in specialist labs at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester.

This latest programme will see how graphene applications can help improve the resilience and durability of many parts of the road network - and even 'blue-sky thinking' around improved inclusion of electrical circuitry in our road systems.

“We are delighted to be continuing our work with Highways England on what will be a wide range of exciting projects,” said Dr Craig Dawson, Applications Manager from Graphene@Manchester.

Paul Doney, Innovation Director at Highways England, added: “We are proud that Highways England is at the forefront of innovation changes in the transport industry.

Highways England is responsible for the motorways and major A roads in the country, which carry four million journeys over 4,300 miles of road.

The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) specialises in the rapid development and scale up of graphene and other 2D materials applications. The GEIC is an industry-led innovation centre, designed to work in collaboration with industry partners to create, test and optimise new concepts for delivery to market.

Tags:  2D materials  Craig Dawson  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Highways England  Paul Doney  University of Manchester 

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New Graphene Supercapacitor Materials Offer Fast Charging for Electric Vehicles

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, May 18, 2020
Introduction

Picture the scene, you are driving to a meeting and running late. The new company car is an electric vehicle (EV), power is running low and range anxiety is setting in. You pull into the service station on the motorway and head straight to the charging station. Instead of taking hours to charge, the car is fully charged in minutes. You pay at the fuel court and back on your way to the meeting in under 5 minutes. Welcome to the future.  Welcome to the world of graphene supercapacitors.

Batteries

We have seen dramatic improvements in battery technologies over recent years but range anxiety and the need for large battery powertrains for performance and commercial vehicles means that EV’s still have some way to go before they are universally accepted. EV’s are calling out for lightweight and more powerful powertrains. Capacitors and supercapacitors could be the answer.

Capacitors and Supercapacitors

Batteries provide high energy density, which means that they have the ability to provide power over a longer period, but they have low power density. Capacitors have a lower energy density but have a high power density and can charge and discharge very quickly providing high bursts of power when required.  In short, batteries are able to store more energy but capacitors can release energy more quickly.

Supercapacitors are generally categorised into three groups : electrostatic double-layer capacitors (EDLCs) using carbon electrodes, electrochemical pseudo-capacitors which use metal oxide or conducting polymer electrodes and hybrid capacitors such as the lithium-ion capacitor.  These differing electrodes – the first exhibiting mostly electrostatic capacitance and the others offer some chemical performance.

Supercapacitors, or ultracapacitors as they are sometimes called could be used in conjunction with batteries to provide powertrains at a reduced weight. Supercapacitors have the ability to tolerate high charge and discharge cycles and are capable of storing and discharging energy very quickly and effectively.  They can hold a much higher charge than traditional capacitors.  In vehicles, supercapacitors are predominantly used for regenerative braking.

Why are supercapacitors becoming important?

Lithium-ion battery technology has made huge advances and industry continues to make incremental improvements however, these do not meet the needs of the electric vehicle industry in terms of range, weight and cost. Supercapacitors can complement the chemical battery by providing bursts of energy when required, such as moving a large truck from a standing stop or short-term surge of power to accelerate a high-performance sports car.  Combining both battery and supercapacitor technologies into a new hybrid battery could satisfy both short and long-term power needs, reducing stress on the battery at peak loads, leading to longer service life.  Potentially, this could lead to smaller, lighter battery packs and vehicles due to supercapacitors taking part of the load and extending the range of EV’s.

Examples of Supercapacitor Applications

• Private and public electrical vehicles
• Port-cranes
• Automotives
• Rail sectors
• Grid energy storage
• Smart phones
• Other consumer electronics
• Sensors
• Wireless sensor networks
• Stationary storage
• Renewables integration
• Industrial vehicles
• Electric & hybrid buses
• Replacement for lead-acid batteries in trucks
• Provide burst of power in lifting operations – cranes, diggers etc.
• Provide fast flow of energy to data centres between power failures and initiation of backup power systems
• Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPS) – for back-up power systems, for example in data centres
• Actuators (Aircraft emergency doors)
• Work in conjunction with lithium-ion batteries or lead-acid batteries in vehicles like forklifts

Why Graphene-based supercapacitors?

It is clear that supercapacitors are a promising supplement to lithium-ion batteries, offering significantly high-power densities, resilience to multiple charge/discharge cycles and short charging times. However, growth in the supercapacitor market may be stifled by the limited capacitance of current materials and the inability of suppliers to effectively scale-up production. Graphene-based materials are a highly suitable alternative to these technologies.

Graphene-based capacitors are lightweight and have a relatively low-cost vs performance ratio.  Graphene lends far more strength compared with activated carbon.  In addition, graphene has a surface area even larger than that of activated carbon used to coat the plates of traditional supercapacitors, enabling better electrostatic charge storage. Graphene-based supercapacitors can store almost as much energy as lithium-ion batteries, charge and discharge in seconds and maintain these properties through tens of thousands of charging cycles.

Professors at the University of Manchester have developed an electrochemical process that enables the production of microporous, metal oxide-decorated graphene materials from graphite. Conventional activated carbon has a gravimetric capacitance of 50-150 Farads per gram, whereas laboratory trials show that these new graphene materials demonstrate a gravimetric capacitance of up to 500 Farads per gram.

Tags:  Batteries  electric vehicle  Graphene  Graphite  Li-ion batteries  supercapacitors  University of Manchester 

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COVID-19 is a chronic disease – and cancer care model is way forward, says Manchester expert

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, April 28, 2020
As the UK government looks for an exit strategy to the COVID-19 lockdown a nanomedicine expert from The University of Manchester believes a care model usually applied to cancer patients could provide a constructive way forward.

Kostas Kostarelos, is Professor of Nanomedicine at The University of Manchester and is leading the Nanomedicine Lab, which is part of the National Graphene Institute and the Manchester Cancer Research Centre.

The Manchester-based expert believes more scientific research should be employed as we transform how we view the COVID-19 pandemic, or any future virus outbreak, and deal with it more like a chronic disease - an ever present issue for humanity that needs systematic management if we are ever to return to our ‘normal’ lives.

Professor Kostarelos makes this claim in an academic thesis entitled 'Nanoscale nights of COVID-19' that offers a nanoscience response to the COVID-19 crisis and will be published on Monday, April 27, by the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

“As for any other chronic medical condition, COVID-19 stricken societies have families, jobs, businesses and other commitments. Therefore, our aim is to cure COVID-19 if possible,” says Professor Kostarelos.

“However, if no immediate cure is available, such as effective vaccination,” Professor Kostarelos suggests: “We need to manage the symptoms to improve the quality of patients’ lives by making sure our society can function as near as normal and simultaneously guarantee targeted protection of the ill and most vulnerable.”

As for any other chronic medical condition, COVID-19 stricken societies have families, jobs, businesses and other commitments. Therefore, our aim is to cure COVID-19 if possible. However, if no immediate cure is available, such as effective vaccination we need to manage the symptoms to improve the quality of patients’ lives by making sure our society can function as near as normal and simultaneously guarantee targeted protection of the ill and most vulnerable Professor Kostas Kostarelos.

Professor Kostarelos says his experience in cancer research and nanotechnology suggests a model that could also be applied to a viral pandemic like COVID-19.

“There are three key principles in managing an individual cancer patient: early detection, monitoring and targeting,” explains Professor Kostarelos. “These principles, if exercised simultaneously, could provide us with a way forward in the management of COVID-19 and the future pandemics.

“Early detection has improved the prognosis of many cancer patients. Similarly, early detection of individuals and groups, who are infected with COVID-19, could substantially accelerate the ability to manage and treat patients.

“All chronic conditions, such as cancer, are further managed by regular monitoring. Therefore, monitoring should be undertaken not only for patients already infected with COVID-19, to track progression and responses, but also for healthy essential workers to ensure that they remain healthy and to reduce the risk of further spreading.

Finally, says Professor Kostarelos, nanomaterials - as well as other biologicals, such as monoclonal antibodies - are often used for targeting therapeutic agents that will be most effective only against cancer cells.

The same principle of ‘targeting’ should be applied for the management of COVID-19 patients to be able to safely isolate them and ensure they receive prompt treatment.

Also, a safeguarding strategy should be provided to the most vulnerable segments of the population by, for example, extending social distancing protocols in elderly care homes - but with the provision of emotional and practical support to ensure the wellbeing of this group is fully supported.

“Protection of the most vulnerable and essential workers, must be guaranteed, with protective gear and monitoring continuously provided,” he added. “Only if all three principles are applied can the rest of society begin to return to normal function and better support the activities in managing this and all future pandemics.”

Tags:  Graphene  Healthcare  Kostas Kostarelos  nanomaterials  nanotechnology  University of Manchester 

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Rolls-Royce chooses to partner with GEIC and 2-DTech

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, April 23, 2020
Versarien plc is pleased to announce that, following an open innovation call, multinational engineering company Rolls-Royce has selected to work with The University of Manchester's Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and its Tier 1 partner, Versarien subsidiary, 2-DTech Limited.

The initial programme of work will use the state-of-the-art chemical vapour deposition (CVD) equipment located within the GEIC. The collaboration will look to explore, understand and create technological advances surrounding the use of graphene and other 2D materials used in wiring for next-generation aerospace engine systems.

The work conducted will seek to use the unique properties of these 2D materials to reduce the weight of electrical components, improve electrical performance and also increase resistance to corrosion of components in future engine systems.

The programme aims to present potential economic benefits, through the possibility of significant cost reductions, and global environmental benefits, through the reduction of energy use and lower emissions from electrification.

Neill Ricketts , Chief Executive of Versarien commented:
"The pursuit of sustainability has become an important goal for many companies in recent years. Rolls-Royce is one of the world's leading industrial technology companies and today, the size and impact of the markets its serves makes this task more urgent than ever. Taking advantage of advanced materials such as graphene, has the potential to revolutionise these markets and add real benefit.

" The partnership with Rolls-Royce is a significant endorsement to 2-DTech's work over the years and we are delighted it has been chosen by such a renowned business and look forward to working together."  

Dr Al Lambourne , Materials Specialist at Rolls - Royce, commented:
" Partnering with the GEIC and its members makes perfect sense to Rolls-Royce as we explore the opportunities and properties of a new class of 2D materials. Using the unique capabilities of 2-DTech and the GEIC we hope to address some of the challenges facing materials in the global aerospace industry , as we pioneer the electrification of future aircraft . "

James Baker, Graphene@Manchester CEO, commented:
"The GEIC is intended to act as an accelerator for graphene commercialisation, market penetration and in the creation of the material supply chain of graphene and 2D materials. It's great to see a company like Rolls-Royce partner with us and our other Tier 1 member, 2-DTech, to capitalise on our world-leading expertise and experience, along with specialist equipment, which will accelerate the product and process development and market entry."

Tags:  2D materials  2-DTech  Aerospace  Al Lambourne  chemical vapour deposition  corrosion  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  James Baker  Neill Ricketts  Rolls-Royce  University of Manchester  Versarien 

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Leading the charge with Game Changing Supercapacitors

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Working closely with the University of Manchester, First Graphene Ltd. has developed high performing materials for the manufacture of Game Changing Supercapacitors.

First Graphene were quick to recognise the potential of the technology for the manufacture of high-performing supercapacitor devices. The company also realised that the materials could be manufactured using their existing graphene manufacturing capabilities and a worldwide, exclusive licence agreement was signed in September 2019.

The need for a Game Changing Supercapacitors has been confirmed by end-users in the aerospace, marine engineering, electric vehicle and utility storage sectors. The company continues to receive regular enquiries from end-users in these sectors.

The materials were first isolated in the research teams of Professor Robert Dryfe and Professor Ian Kinloch at the University of Manchester.

Prof. Robert Dryfe comments "Our research has developed a route to produce state-of-the-art materials, combining the attractive properties of graphene materials and metal oxides. The initial work showed that these materials could have significant applications in energy storage”.

Our global appetite for energy continues to grow at an alarming rate, driven by population growth, increasing urbanisation and improving standards of living.

At the same time, the environmental imperative to reduce the carbon emissions associated with energy consumption is driving changes in the way we make, distribute and use energy. Traditional carbon dioxide (CO2)-generating energy sources are being replaced by cleaner, renewable sources. For these greener energy sources to be effective, a new generation of energy storage and distribution is required.

Chemical batteries such as lithium ion have achieved widespread adoption for energy storage across industry sectors, such as mobile devices and electric vehicles as they offer high power-density, mobility and multiple charges. Even lithium ion batteries have not reached full adoption in high-volume industries where high cost, high weight, range anxiety and long charging times are concerns.

Supercapacitors are being evaluated as an alternative and complementary energy storage device that offer high power-density and short charging times. They are already used in laptops, actuators and some electric vehicles. When combined with lithium-ion batteries the supercapacitor enables higher power charging and discharging and the use of a lighter, lower cost Li-ion battery.

It is clear that industry needs Game Changing Supercapacitor storage devices with high energy density and high-power density. The devices must have rapid and safe charging through multiple cycles.

The new supercapacitor materials were first isolated at the university by Professor Robert Dryfe and Professor Ian Kinloch. By extending their work on the electrochemical manufacture of graphene materials they were able to synthesise graphene materials decorated with metal oxide nanostructures that show great promise for high performing supercapacitor devices, materials with very high capacitance of up to 500 Farads/gram were isolated which outperform existing materials[1].

First Graphene Ltd. is a Tier 1 partner in the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre at the University of Manchester and have an excellent working relationship with the academic groups at the University.

Andy Goodwin, Chief Technology Officer of First Graphene Ltd., remembers “In a presentation by Professor Kinloch our attention was drawn to these high value hybrid-graphene materials and it was clear that the materials could be manufactured by a process that we already operated at tonnage scale. We started licence negotiations immediately.”

Since the licence agreement was concluded the technology has benefitted from UK government support through an EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Council) project to transfer the technology from the University laboratories to First Graphene laboratories. This project has been very successful and has demonstrated that the metal oxide decorated graphenes can be rapidly scaled to multi-kilogrammanufacture. The project will conclude in the next few months when further results will be published.

Professor Robert Dryfe adds “The collaboration with First Graphene has been excellent: both in terms of their know-how on scale-up of production, and their commercial insight".

Tags:  Andy Goodwin  First Graphene Ltd  Graphene  Ian Kinloch  Robert Dryfe  Supercapacitors  University of Manchester 

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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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