Print Page | Contact Us | Report Abuse | Sign In | Register
Graphene Updates
Blog Home All Blogs

New Faculty Member and Group Leader

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Thursday, October 15, 2020
ICFO’s NEST program, supported by Fundació Cellex and Fundació Mir-Puig, allows the institute to offer outstanding opportunities for young scientists aiming to start and lead an independent research group. We are very pleased to announce a new member of the program, Dr F. Pelayo García de Arquer, who will join ICFO as a new faculty member and Group Leader, coming from the University of Toronto. Pelayo will lead a program seeking to reduce the growing CO2 emissions to revert global warming and climate change.

Dr. García de Arquer studied telecommunications engineering, mathematics, and photonics. He earned his PhD from ICFO, during which he investigated how the interaction between nanostructured semiconductors and metals could be manipulated dictating key optoelectronic properties such as absorption, charge transport and doping. He also explored new types of devices where highly energetic electrons in metals could be harnessed for sensing and energy harvesting. He applied his findings to make more efficient photodetectors and solar cells.

Pelayo joined the University of Toronto as a Connaught Postdoctoral Fellow in Bioinspired Ideas for Sustainable Energy. In his postdoctoral work, he expanded his research in the field of clean energy. He explored the use of emerging liquid-processed materials such as perovskites, low dimensional perovskites, quantum dots, and their combination, to control energy transfer at the nanoscale. Soon, he turned his attention to energy storage based on hydrogen and CO2 electroreduction. Pelayo, in this area, advanced in the understanding and performance of catalysts for these reactions, offering new insights into their design considering material transformations, and gas, electron and ion management.

At ICFO, García de Arquer will establish a research program focusing on CO2 Mitigation Accelerated by Photons (CO2MAP). His group will explore the conversion of CO2 into renewable fuels and commodities using clean energy. This has the potential to reduce the massive carbon footprint of existing manufacturing and transport processes. Pelayo’s group will use photon-based spectroscopies to shed light on the reaction mechanisms and catalyst reconstruction processes that drive CO2 electroreduction at high conversion rates. Combined with modeling, his group will use these insights to enable the informed design of catalysts and systems that achieve the selectivity, activity, energy efficiency and stability needed for this technology to make a significant impact in the global effort to revert climate change.

Tags:  energy  environment  F. Pelayo García de Arquer  Graphene  ICFO  University of Toronto 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Elkem receives Enova financial support for planning the battery materials industrial plant

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Elkem has received NOK 10 million in financial support from Enova to fund the initial planning of the potential large-scale battery materials plant in Norway, named Northern Recharge. The project aims to supply the fast-growing battery industry through a competitive production process and make batteries greener with lower CO2 emissions.

“A positive investment decision requires competitive public support mechanisms and supportive government policies. Elkem is also inviting industrial and financial partners to participate. Securing this initial support from Enova is an important step as we progress towards a final investment decision,” says Elkem’s CEO, Michael Koenig.

Enova is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, and supports the development of energy and climate technology, among other responsibilities.

“Batteries will undoubtedly play an important role in a future low-emission society. The production of batteries, however, is energy-consuming, so we need to see production processes that are more energy-efficient in the future, such as the innovative synthetic graphite production technology Elkem has developed. We therefore appreciate the opportunity to support their upcoming initial study, in order to increase the probability that this energy-efficient technology can one day be adopted on a full scale," says Enova's Director of Markets, Øyvind Leistad.

Elkem recently selected Herøya, one of the biggest industrial parks in Norway, as the project site. The company will now continue to progress the Northern Recharge project towards a final investment decision in 2021.

“The market for better and greener batteries is growing fast. We believe Elkem and Norway are uniquely positioned to be among the leaders in this industry,” says vice president for Elkem Battery Materials, Stian Madshus.

“Our Northern Recharge project competitively positions us for large-scale and cost-effective material science solutions for the rapidly developing European battery industry. Elkem brings significant industrial processing experience and by utilising efficient and renewable Norwegian hydropower, our product portfolio developments will be uniquely positioned for today’s EV requirements and tomorrow’s next generation advancements for rapid-charging and longer range. We truly appreciate the support from Enova on our journey towards more sustainable and energy efficient battery materials production,” says Madshus.

The project will produce synthetic graphite and composites, which are the leading anode materials in lithium-ion battery cells. Graphite demand is expected to increase more than ten times from today’s level to 2030. In terms of weight, graphite as an anode material typically represents around 10 percent of the total battery weight. Today, most of both battery cell and graphite production takes place in Asia.

Using Elkem's technology and renewable hydropower, the project can potentially reduce CO2 emissions by more than 90 percent compared to conventional production, while potentially reducing energy consumption by around 50 percent.

Elkem is currently constructing an industrial scale pilot plant for battery graphite in Kristiansand, Norway. Commissioning in early 2021, the pilot aims to conclude processing routes and enhance the product qualification process with customers. This project is supported by Innovation Norway.

Elkem also continues to carry out research on silicon-graphite composite materials for improved battery performance. This year, the company is joining the Hydra and 3beLiEVe research projects on next generation lithium-ion batteries, coordinated by SINTEF and the Austrian Institute of Technology, respectively. Both projects have received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Tags:  Battery  Electric Vehicle  Elkem  Energy  Enova  Environment  Graphene  graphite  Michael Koenig  Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment  Øyvind Leistad  Stian Madshus 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

SpaceMat: graphene’s answer to recycling tyre rubber launches to market

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Friday, October 2, 2020

A Greater Manchester start-up company has launched the first of a range of products aimed at reducing wastage from vehicle tyres, supported by the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre’s (GEIC) ERDF Bridging the Gap programme at The University of Manchester.

In conjunction with the GEIC, Dr Vivek Koncherry developed SpaceMat – a flooring product that uses graphene to improve dramatically the performance of recycled tyre rubber compared to previous efforts.

It’s estimated that 1.5 billion waste tyres are generated globally every year and most end up in landfill or being burned. Numerous attempts have been made to produce high-quality recycled rubber from tyres, but the shedding of microparticles from resultant products has raised concerns over environmental health.

Vivek’s company Space Blue has successfully developed graphene-enhanced recycled rubber products for mass-market applications that address this issue.

Graphene-enhanced performance

The SpaceMat product is constructed from 80% waste tyre material and 20% graphene-enhanced natural rubber. The graphene more than doubles the compressive strength of the rubber, in turn increasing the durability of the mat. Using graphene, it is possible to engineer the mechanical performance of the recycled material, bringing it close to the performance of a virgin polymer system.

James Baker, CEO Graphene@Manchester, said: "Our Bridging the Gap programme specifically targets Greater Manchester-based SMEs and has been a great opportunity to support local innovation. It's really exciting to see this new company entering into the market, in particular with its focus on supporting environmental sustainability and a good re-use of scrap tyres, which otherwise could cause significant pollution and waste product."

Avoiding the 'valley of death'

Innovation in the area of sustainability is one of the criteria governing research activities at GEIC and is also vital in securing funding from the Bridging the Gap programme.

Bridging the Gap aims to help SMEs like Vivek’s make the transition from original idea to market-ready product, avoiding the so-called ‘valley of death’, where many potential innovations founder due to lack of funds and/or industrial know-how.

Paul Wiper, Application Manager for Bridging the Gap at the GEIC, said: “This is exactly the type to enterprise and concept our BtG programme aims to address. We offer technical input and R&D programmes to Greater Manchester start-ups and existing companies to accelerate graphene-based products and processes.”

Having launched SpaceMat to market, Vivek is now developing a series of products, including traffic cones and anti-viral doormats, and is looking for partners to licence and promote the technology globally.

“SpaceBlue is on a mission to solve the global problem of waste tyre using graphene by developing sustainable and circular economy products,” said Vivek. “Thanks to colleagues at the GEIC and funding from Bridging the Gap, we’re making real progress towards achieving that goal.”

Tags:  environment  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  James Baker  Paul Wiper  rubber  SpaceBlue  tyres  University of Manchester  Vivek Koncherry 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Aranza: why I fell in love with graphene and Manchester

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, September 25, 2020

This Article was authored by The University of Manchester

Chemical engineer Aranza Carmona Orbezo hails from Mexico City, so she knows about the importance of reliable water supply for a large population. For the last four years, she’s been working on her PhD at Manchester’s Department of Chemistry, using graphene in capacitor systems to desalinate sea water for human consumption. She tells us about her research, the challenges that 2020 has posed and her vision for future technology.

So what brought you from Mexico to Manchester?
I did my undergrad and Master’s in chemical engineering and my Master’s was focused a little bit on nanomaterials. So the first time that I heard about graphene, I fell in love with it.

I knew from the moment that I read that amazing paper [Geim/Novoselov et al on the isolation of graphene] that I wanted to work on something related to graphene. And of course, there’s no better place to work with graphene than in Manchester.

I started to do some research into the things that I could do and I found Professor Robert Dryfe on the Graphene@Manchester website and that he specialised in working with energy storage and the electrochemical performance of graphene.

That’s a topic that I’ve always been very passionate about: the idea that we can used these very technical electrochemistry concepts and use them in a final application, because the world that we’re living in really needs these types of things.

I got in touch with Prof Dryfe and then during Graphene Week, which took place in Manchester in 2015, I had the amazing opportunity to visit and have a meeting with him, and fall even more in love with the University.

Tell us a bit about your research…
Water supply and scarcity is going to be a huge problem that faces humanity in the next 10 to 15 years. Sometimes for people in Britain, it’s not that obvious – they say “c’mon, water scarcity? It rains here all the time” – but London, for example, is one of the 12 cities across the world that are going to have big water scarcity issues in that timeframe.

Mexico City has had water supply problems for the last 20 years, and it’s getting worse by the minute, so it’s really important to find solutions now.

So my main research is using energy storage systems – capacitors and supercapacitors – to desalinate sea water and make it available for human consumption.

We try to understand the fundamentals – to really understand how it works – and then incorporate graphene or other 2D materials in the system to improve its performance. We know that graphene has great electrical conductivity, so it can be used within this system.

The technical name for what I’m working on is ‘capacitive deionisation’ and though it isn’t being reproduced at scale yet, it can definitely be scaled up. The idea is to find these better materials and better technologies to be able to compete with a process like reverse osmosis, which is the main process used currently to desalinate water.

One of our key advantages is that deionisation brings a lower overall cost for desalination because energy usage is reduced. As the system uses capacitors, you can recover some of that energy.

How has the Covid crisis affected your work and your life in Manchester?
It was difficult for my research because [at the time of lockdown] I needed only three more weeks to finish my entire experimental work for my PhD. It was so frustrating because I was so close but then so far!

In the end it was 15 weeks until I was able to get back in the lab. But on the positive side it gave me a really good opportunity to focus on thesis writing – just me and my computer – and it really helped me with the final document.

I decided to stay in Manchester rather than go home to Mexico as things were a little bit more complicated over there, and I had the chance to explore the city in a really quiet state – in the hour that we were allowed to go out and walk – and just to go and breathe and try to relax and understand the crazy situation.

And it also gave me time for a sense of closure on my PhD – I can’t quite believe that I’m finishing my PhD I the middle of a pandemic – but it gave me a chance reflect on all of the things that I have learned during these past four years.

In a more ideal world, how do you like to spend your spare time?
I love walking around the city itself but also getting out and walking around the Peak District, which is so beautiful and relaxing. And also the traditional stuff, going to the movies, seeing my friends, going to the pub.

I also like doing scientific outreach – going to events to talk about research and show young people how they can get involved with science. I’ve been involved previously in [pub-based outreach initiative] Pint of Science as media and promotions officer and I’m also a spokesperson for women in STEM.

What do you see as the future of graphene research in your area?
In the short term, I think we’re going to see a lot more of graphene being included in energy storage devices. There’s a lot of work going on in supercapacitors and batteries, so I think we’re going to see that working in a really short time.

In terms of the application for desalination, I think that’s going to be more medium to long-term because there are a lot of things that we still need to understand. Graphene works in really interesting ways, some of which we weren’t expecting – in the systems that we have, and there are questions that still need to be answered.

Fortunately there are a lot of groups, here in Manchester and around the world, working on it and trying to find solutions, so hopefully we will be able to see graphene being used in these capacitive desalination systems before too long.

In terms of water desalination in general – with membranes, for example – since I arrived in 2016, there have already been some great breakthroughs with graphene in reverse osmosis systems, so I think we will see them, at least at the scale for home use, quite soon.

Even wider, one of the things I love about graphene is that there’s no limit for its applications. The only limit is our own imaginations. In the long term, graphene will be that material that will change the world and all of the investment that we’ve seen over the last few years will be paid back many, many times. The sky’s the limit!

And what about your own future?
I would love to continue my career in academia or in industry, as long as I am involved in science and working in breakthroughs in science that allow me to deliver applications for a final user experience.

So right now I’m thinking about whether to do a post-doc or shift a little bit towards trying to get seed money for a start-up. Thinking further forward, I’d love to still be working in applied research and work with governments and other organisations to expand what we’re doing in science to solve the big problems facing our society – so-called ‘scientific diplomacy’. That’s my long-term goal for the future.

Tags:  2D materials  Aranza Carmona Orbezo  Environment  Graphene  nanomaterials  Robert Dryfe  supercapacitors  University of Manchester 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Researchers develop new hydrogen-generating photocatalyst design

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi, in collaboration with researchers from Yogi Vemana University, have designed a novel photocatalyst that can remove pollutants from water while simultaneously generating hydrogen using sunlight.

The researchers have designed a series of novel and multifunctional nanocomposite photocatalysts by coupling mesocrystals of calcium titanate with edge sulphur atoms enriched molybdenum disulphide and reduced graphene oxide. A specific and useful example of a photocatalytic reaction is the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen. Although this reaction was demonstrated as early as 1972 by Fujishima and Honda, the inefficiency of the process has been a bottleneck in scaling up the technology for practical applications. In addition, the researchers have also used these photocatalysts in the degradation of organic pollutants found in water.

“The performance of a photocatalytic reaction depends upon the efficiency with which the photocatalyst converts light energy into photogenerated charges that drives the reaction of interest,” explains Dr Venkata Krishnan, Associate Professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi. Photocatalysts work by generating electron-hole pairs when exposed to light of specific wavelengths, which induces the reaction they are meant to catalyze. Oxide materials such as titania and titanates are commonly studied photocatalysts, but these materials are often inefficient by themselves because the electrons and holes combine before the reaction can be propelled forward.

“Mesocrystals, a new class of ‘superstructures’ made of highly ordered nanoparticles, could limit the recombination of electron-hole pairs because the free electrons that are generated flow between particles before they can recombine with the hole,” says Dr. Venkata Krishnan.

“The performance of a photocatalytic reaction depends upon the efficiency with which the photocatalyst converts light energy into photogenerated charges that drives the reaction of interest,”

“Our combination showed a 33-fold enhanced photocatalytic hydrogen evolution over pure calcium titanate, with apparent light-to-electron conversion efficiencies of 5.4%, 3.0% and 17.7% for light of three different wavelengths, orange light (600 nm wavelength) producing the highest efficiency”, says Dr. Venkata Krishnan. The mesocrystal-semiconductor-graphene combination also degrades many kinds of organic pollutants when exposed to light, which makes it promising for pollution control techniques.

Dr. Venkata Krishnan attributes the enhancement in photocatalytic performance of their material combination, to three factors: (a) the intimate contact between the three components, which leads to better electron transfer; (b) the high surface area that provides more space for the reaction to take place; and (c) specific sites on molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) that act as sticky sites for the positive hydrogen ions that are generated during the reaction, which, in turn, enhances hydrogen production.

It may be known that graphene is the new “wonder-material” in the field of materials science, ever since its isolation earned the Nobel Prize in 2010. The scientists at IIT Mandi found that remarkable enhancement in photocatalytic activity could be achieved with this combination.

Tags:  Environment  Graphene  Indian Institute of Technology Mandi  nanocomposite  Venkata Krishnan  Yogi Vemana University 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

UT Projects Win $23.6M in R&D Funds as Part of Portuguese Government Technology Program

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, June 10, 2020
The UT Austin Portugal program, a 13-year-old innovation partnership between the university and the Portuguese government, received $23.6 million in funding to pursue 11 R&D projects as part of a major technology initiative from Portugal’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education.

The projects fall under four major categories: nanomaterials, earth-space interactions, medical physics and advanced computing. The teams will spend the next three years developing their projects, which could transform industries like automotive, space, health care and data science.

“Ranging from electromagnetic interference shielding nanomaterials, to in-beam time-of-flight positron emission tomography for proton radiation therapy, all the way to an ocean and climate change monitoring constellation based on radar altimeter data combined with gravity and ocean temperature and salinity measurements, the spread, number, and quality of the UT Austin Portugal joint strategic projects selected for funding within the recent competitive solicitation set forth by the Foundation for Science and Technology and National Innovation Agency are truly outstanding,” said Manuel Heitor, Portugal’s Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education. “I look forward to witnessing the results of such collaborative research between Portuguese and UT researchers.”

The call for proposals included just three universities: The University of Texas at Austin, Carnegie Mellon University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. UT won the majority of the investment dollars, about 40% of the funding, and saw the most projects funded among the three engineering powerhouses.

“We had anticipated four to five projects would be selected for strategic grant awards and were astounded when we learned 11 had been selected by the evaluation panel in Portugal,” said John Ekerdt, Cockrell School associate dean for research and principal investigator for UT Austin Portugal. “This is a testament to the outstanding faculty and quality projects they proposed with collaborators in Portugal and to the close ties that have been forged between UT researchers and faculty and counterparts in Portugal.”

“The performance of the UT Austin Portugal program in the 2019 call for strategic projects has been remarkable,” said Marco Bravo, executive director of the UT Austin Portugal program. “Eleven of 14 project proposals submitted by the UT Austin Portugal research consortia were approved for funding through an independent assessment process. Overall, UT Austin Portugal saw 11 of its groundbreaking, industry-led proposals approved out of a total of 25 projects approved at this solicitation that included proposals from two other international partnerships, corresponding to nearly $24 million over three years. That’s 40% of total funding to UT Austin Portugal projects, the largest share of research dollars available. UT Austin researchers are to be congratulated on this effort.”

The UT Austin Portugal program dates back to 2007, and it is one of several partnerships between the Portuguese government and research institutions. The goal is to elevate science and technology in Portugal while fostering strong partnerships to help universities continue to innovate. The partnership with UT was extended in 2018, continuing the alliance until at least 2030.

“Of the three international partnerships with American universities sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology in Portugal, the partnership with UT Austin had the best performance in this call, which was designed and launched on the Portuguese side,” said José Manuel Mendonça, national director of the program. “The 11 approved projects represent a proposal success rate of almost 80% for the UT Austin Portugal Program. The approved projects will, undoubtedly, contribute to promoting and strengthening collaborations with UT Austin in high-level R&D matters with immediate transposition to various sectors of economic activity, several of which are critical to Portugal's competitive position at an international level.”

About a third of the funds for UT’s projects come from the university, with the rest coming from a combination of public and private Portuguese entities. Each project team in Portugal is led by a Portuguese company. The UT side includes 21 faculty members and one from the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Here is a look at the UT projects:

Shielding electronic devices from electromagnetic interference
This project proposes to use the “wonder material” graphene to improve on methods to combat electromagnetic interference, which can disrupt circuits and cause devices to fail. The team plans to create two composites with electromagnetic interference shielding capabilities and fabricate a solution to protect electric wires used in the automotive industry.

UT Austin Faculty: Deji Akinwande, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Brian Korgel, Cockrell School of Engineering, McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering

New lasers for next-generation biomedical imaging
The use of multiphoton microscopy to examine cell behavior in live tissue over time has become an important research tool for learning more about brains and tumors. This project aims to increase the speed and depth of this form of imaging and diagnostics through the development and application of ultrashort laser pulses.

UT Austin Faculty: Andrew Dunn, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering; Adela Ben-Yakar, Cockrell School of Engineering, Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering

Nano-satellites for gravitational field assessment
Researchers propose to develop a nano-satellite prototype for studying gravitational fields. The project will also develop a platform for future nano-satellite capabilities, including Earth observation, communications and exploration missions.

UT Austin Faculty: Byron Tapley, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, and the Center for Space Research; Brandon Jones, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, and the Texas Spacecraft Laboratory

Software to match big data with high-performance computing
The advancement of technology has generated huge troves of data, which requires stronger computing power to process and analyze all that information. This project aims to create a software bundle to help companies pair their big data operations with high-performance computing, which includes tools for managing challenges such as computing and research storage.

UT Austin Faculty: Vijay Chidambaram, College of Nature Sciences, Department of Computer Science; Todd Evans, Texas Advanced Computing Center

Sensors for monitoring cancer patients
This project will develop a biosensor that can be injected into prostate cancer patients after surgery. The minimally invasive sensor would allow medical personnel to monitor high-risk patients remotely and look for the development of early tumors, with the potential to increase the predictive value of cancer screenings.

UT Austin Faculty: Thomas Milner, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering; James Tunnell, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Wearable rehabilitation devices
Researchers will develop a series of nano-sensors embedded into clothing that administer electrostimulation to people suffering from a lack of mobility and motor deficiency. The sensors could be monitored remotely by health professionals, creating a mobile rehabilitation option for people who have trouble getting to a doctor’s office consistently or want greater freedom to complete treatment anywhere. The team envisions its project as a tool mostly for elderly people, but it has applications for training high-level athletes as well.

UT Austin Faculty: George Biros, Cockrell School of Engineering, Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences; Michael Cullinan, Cockrell School of Engineering, Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering

Software for gathering better data on manufacturing
Getting reliable data on manufacturing processes proves challenging due to issues with placing sensors in the right spots and retaining strong connectivity. Thin films loaded with small sensors that can be applied directly to the equipment represent a promising solution; however, installation has proved difficult. This project proposes a new set of software to make it easier to layer these films on top of equipment by providing necessary data to avoid mechanical problems during installation.

UT Austin Faculty: Rui Huang, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Center for Mechanics of Solids, Structures and Materials; Kenneth M. Liechti, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Center for Mechanics of Solids, Structures and Materials

A new way to measure next-generation cancer therapy
Proton radiation therapy, the use of protons rather than X-rays to treat cancer patients, is on the rise, but measuring the distance protons travel proves problematic. Typically, it takes a ring of detectors surrounding the patient to get accurate measurements, but that poses geometric challenges. This project proposes to develop a new type of Positron Emission Tomography scan, which shows how tissues and organs are functioning to better understand the range of protons and whether they are traveling to the right spots to attack the cancer.

UT Faculty: Karol Lang, College of Natural Sciences, Department of Physics; Narayan Sahoo, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Radiation Physics

Satellite constellations for monitoring climate change
This project aims to develop the next generation of radar altimeter instruments — which measure the distance between an aircraft and the terrain below it — and a series of small satellites that can understand long-term variability in local, regional and global climate created by changes in sea levels due to water temperature. The project also includes a data processing and visualization system using advanced modeling, estimation techniques, statistical and scientific machine learning methods and error analysis.

UT Austin Faculty: Byron Tapley, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department, and the Center for Space Research; Patrick Heimbach, Jackson School of Geosciences, Department of Geological Sciences, and the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences

Improving cutting tools for airline and automotive components
Fabricating parts of cars and planes is hard on cutting tools and tends to ware them down. This project aims to develop coatings that better protect and extend the lifespan of these crucial pieces of equipment. The team also plans to develop simulation programs to improve cutting tools’ performance.

UT Austin Faculty: Gregory J. Rodin, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, and the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences; Filippo Mangolini, Cockrell School of Engineering, Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering

An alternative to traditional water treatment options
Traditional water treatment tech struggles to efficiently remove high amounts of pollutants from some types of surface and groundwater. This team is looking to use metallic nanoparticles to clean water by improving a process called catalytic hydrogenation, which involves adding hydrogen via a metallic catalyst.

UT Austin Faculty: Charles J. Werth, Cockrell School of Engineering, Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering; Simon M. Humphrey, College of Natural Sciences, Department of Chemistry

Tags:  Biomedical  Carnegie Mellon University  Electronics  Environment  Graphene  Healthcare  John Ekerdt  Marco Bravo  Massachusetts Institute of Technology  nanomaterials  Sensors  The University of Texas at Austin  Water Purification 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Using the UAE’s Abundant Resources of Dates and Sand to Clean Industrial Wastewater

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, April 3, 2020
A KU research team has developed a hybrid material capable of adsorbing pollutants from industrial wastewater using two natural resources of great abundance in the UAE – sand and dates.

Removing pollutants from industrial wastewater safely and affordably is a fundamental concern for governments worldwide. Now, an emerging technology is being explored by researchers at Khalifa University that aims to clean wastewater using two natural resources of great abundance in the UAE – sand and dates.

The KU research team developed a graphene-sand hybrid material capable of adsorbing pollutants, which involves attaching pollutants onto small particles that are then easily removed. While synthesizing graphene-sand adsorbents can be prohibitively expensive, the KU researchers have turned to a previously unused resource – date syrup – to provide the carbon needed to produce the graphene.

“While other routes have been studied, using sugar, for example, as the carbon base for graphene-sand adsorbents, our project aims at utilizing locally available resources for tackling global challenges. As far as we know, we’re the first to use date syrup as a sustainable carbon source,” explained Dr. Fawzi Banat, Professor of Chemical Engineering, at Khalifa University.

Dr. Banat, along with Anjali Edathil, former Research Engineer in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Shaihroz Khan, visiting Research Assistant, described the in-situ strategy used to produce the graphene-sand hybrid with date syrup in a paper published in Scientific Reports.

Their adsorbent can be used as an environmentally benign and scalable option for decontaminating wastewater, with the adsorption capacity far surpassing that of similar reported graphene-based adsorbents.

“Water is one of the world’s most valuable resources, and only one percent of the global water supply is available for consumption and domestic use,” explained Dr. Banat. “With augmented urbanization and substantial industrialization activity, enormous amounts of hazardous chemicals are discharged into receiving waters every day. Among the emerging inorganic and organic contaminants, heavy metals and dyes are frequently found in industrial effluents, which, if untreated, become a principal concern to the environment and public health. They are non-biodegradable and tend to accumulate in living organisms.”

Numerous efforts have focused on developing cost-effective and appropriate materials and technologies to regulate the amount of these persistent water pollutants to permissible levels before wastewater is discharged to water bodies. Different treatment technologies have been tested, including photodegradation, precipitation, coagulation, membrane separation, and ion exchange. While all work, they suffer from drawbacks in applicability and cost-effectiveness.

Comparatively, the process of adsorption – where a solid holds molecules of a dissolved solid, liquid or gas on its surface by adhesion – is a relatively mature and versatile method for removing pollutants. Traditionally, carbon-rich materials such as charcoal, soot and biochar are used as adsorbents due to their low costs and high surface areas.

“With the advent of nanotechnology, researchers have explored the use of carbon nanomaterials for water purification, with the hope that it may open new fruitful pathways to curb the existing water shortage,” explained Dr. Banat.

“Graphene has attracted tremendous research interest. Its unique physiochemical and mechanical properties have led to its potential as a revolutionary adsorbent for environmental pollutant management. However, a key barrier in the practicality of pristine graphene nanosheets for water purification is its high cost and post-treatment handling, including recovery after the decontamination process.”

Graphene is a novel 2D, one-atom-thick nanomaterial made of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure. In many cases, such as this one, graphene is organized into sheets a few layers thick rather than existing as a single monolayer. Regardless of organization, however, graphene’s high surface area, combined with its versatile chemistry and highly hydrophobic surface, makes it an ideal adsorbent for removing pollutants. The natural defects and ‘wrinkles’ on its surface act as high-surface-energy adsorption sites for organic pollutants. However, graphene aggregates heavily in water due to the strong forces between the graphene layers.

“To overcome these issues, we can anchor the nanosheets onto an economical and reliable inorganic substrate such as sand,” explained Dr. Banat. “Graphene-sand hybrids not only allow the full expression of the graphene adsorption sites but also ensure dispersibility and easy separation from water.”

Dr. Banat’s research proposes a single-step strategy to develop efficient and eco-friendly graphene sand hybrids using date syrup, a widely available and sustainable carbon source in the Middle East.

Different carbon sources are available in different parts of the world, with several synthetic routes already reported for the preparation of graphene-sand hybrids from sugar, palm sugar, gelatin and asphalt.

Dr. Banat’s team used pyrolysis – the process of chemically decomposing organic materials at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen – to decompose the date syrup, triggering a change of chemical composition and the synthesis of a large volume of graphene material, that subsequently attaches to desert sand without the use of any external chemical agents.

“It is believed that during pyrolysis, the naturally abundant sucrose and fructose molecules in the date syrup undergo complete exfoliation to form graphene nanosheets on the desert sand surface, thereby exposing the powerful adsorption sites concealed in the stacked graphene,” said Dr. Banat.

Dr. Banat’s graphene-sand hybrid adsorbent was tested in the laboratory and showed remarkable efficiency in simultaneously removing both dye and heavy metals from multicomponent systems. The researchers concluded that their adsorbent had great potential as an exceptional material resource of water purification.

“This will undoubtedly open new avenues for the practicability of graphene to curb the existing water shortage,” added Dr. Banat. “We hope our material will help in increasing water resources in the UAE, reducing energy consumption in wastewater treatment processes and be used to convert oily wastewaters from waste to commodity than can be used in applications such as industrial recycling and agriculture.”

Tags:  Environment  Fawzi Banat  Graphene  Khalifa University  nanomaterials 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Global Graphene Group Adds Second REACH-Certified Product

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, March 20, 2020
Global Graphene Group (G3) has finalized certification for its second product with the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).

G3’s Gi-PW-B050 (N002-PDR), a high-density single layer of graphene oxide with low oxygen content on its surface and high surface area, has achieved the REACH certification. G3 is registered with REACH to ship one to 10 metric tons of its N002-PS product into the EU annually with C.S.B. GmbH., the only representative for G3 in the EU. The REACH certification for this product secures G3 the right to market the product in Europe.

REACH is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals. REACH establishes procedures for collecting and assessing information on the properties and hazards of substances.

G3 is also a proud member of the REACH graphene consortium, taking an active role in how graphene solutions are handled in Europe.

“The addition of this product being REACH certified will help us ramp up our business in Europe,” said Adam Quirk, Global President of Taiwan Graphene Company for G3. “I’m proud of our team’s continued work and focus to get more of our products REACH certified.”

Tags:  Adam Quirk  environment  Global Graphene Group  Graphene  graphene oxide 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Graphene gas sensors for real-time monitoring of air pollution

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), working with partners from the Graphene Flagship, Chalmers University of Technology, the Advanced Institute of Technology, Royal Holloway University and Linköping University, have created a low-cost, low-energy consuming NO2 sensor that measures NO2 levels in real-time.

The World Health Organisation reported that 4.2 million deaths every year are a direct result of exposure to ambient air pollution such as NO2, SO2, NH3, CO2 and CO. One of the most dangerous pollutants, NO2 gas, is produced by burning fossil fuels e.g. in diesel engines. Significant portions of the population in large cities, specifically London, have been consistently exposed to NO2 levels above the legislated limit. Even at very low concentrations NO2 is toxic for humans, leading to breathing problems, asthma attacks and potentially causing childhood obesity and dementia.  

NPL and partners have developed a graphene-based NO2 detector that reports pollutant levels based on changes in its electrical resistance. The high sensitivity of graphene to the local environment has shown to be highly advantageous in sensing applications, where ultralow concentrations of absorbed molecules induce a significant response on the electronic properties of graphene. The unique electronic structure makes graphene the ‘ultimate’ sensing material for applications in environmental monitoring and air quality.  

NPL has developed and demonstrated the novel type of NO2 sensors based on different types of graphene. This low-cost and technologically simple solution uses simple chemiresistor approach and allows for measurements of the exceedingly low levels of NO2 e.g. below 10 ppb. 1 ppb is a concentration equal to a droplet of ink in 2 Olympic size swimming pools. According to the World Health Organisation’s guidelines the targeted level of NO2 pollution in cities is 21 ppb however, the typical average level in London is 30-40 ppb.    

There is a well-demonstrated global need for high sensitivity, low-cost, low-energy consumption miniaturised NO2 gas sensors to be deployed in a dense network and to be used to pinpoint and avoid high pollution hot spots. Such sensors operating in real-time can help to visualise pollution in urban areas with unprecedently high local resolution. 

Olga Kazakova, National Physical Laboratory (NPL) states: “Understanding the problem is the first step to solving the problem. If you only monitor certain junctions or roads for NO2 pollution, you do not get an accurate picture of the environment. In order to do this, a dense network must be set up to show the dynamically changing level of pollution through different times of day and year, so you can get to know the real level of critical exposure.” 

With the data provided by a dense network of graphene sensors, people could us an app to check how much NO2 pollution they might be exposed to on their planned route, and city councils could use this information to dynamically restrict and divert cars near schools and hospitals. This would enable governing bodies to adopt smart and flexible restrictive measures in specific areas recognised as being highly pollutive. 

Tags:  Chalmers University of Technology  environment  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  National Physical Laboratory  Olga Kazakova  pollution  Sensors 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)