Major Advance in Scalable Graphene Production

Neill Ricketts with coaster |
Credit: Professional Images

Neill Ricketts with coaster | Credit: Professional Images - Credit: Professional Images

Versarien plc the advanced engineering materials group based at the Forest of Dean and a finalist in our Cotswold Life Engineering, Manufacturing and Innovation awards (announced in the July issue of Cotswold Life Business & Professional magazine), has announced that its graphene development subsidiary, 2-DTech, has made a major advance in graphene platelet production, which the Board believes will accelerate potential commercial applications for graphene and graphene products.

As a result of 2-DTech’s investment programme, it has developed its own proprietary graphene production technique founded upon a licenced process from University of Ulster. The company says this process offers numerous advantages over the conventional graphene manufacturing solutions currently on the market.

Building on techniques originating from University of Manchester, refined by University of Ulster and 2-DTech, this patented process involves a mechanised exfoliation process in which a strong shearing force is applied to the surface of the graphene layers. This process can be automated and allows graphene sheets to be produced in larger quantities and with greater chemical purity. The resulting graphene has up to 99% carbon and minimal oxygen content, as well as being effectively inert.

Graphene performance is dependent not only on the purity, but the number of atomic layers, with a single layer providing optimal performance, allowing the full potential of graphene to be unlocked. Importantly, the 2-DTech production process provides significant amounts of single layer graphene on an industrial scale.

2-DTech are currently working with a number of clients, from industries as diverse as military, medical and consumer products, requiring access to high quality, cost effective graphene and are expecting to form a number of further partnerships to commercialise this technology in a timely fashion in the near future.

2D-Tech are a partner of the newly-opened National Graphene Institute (NGI) at The University of Manchester.

The University’s Graphene Business Director, James Baker, said: “The new production method that 2D-Tech have refined is an important step to producing high-quality graphene on an industrial scale.

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“As partners of the National Graphene Institute, we are delighted to be supporting the advances 2D-Tech are making within graphene production and commercialisation. As partners, they have access to our critical mass of research expertise and work closely with us on how to take the commercialisation of graphene forward.”

Versarien CEO Neill Ricketts added: “Our technique is highly scalable and we can also use our existing group resources to manufacture relatively large quantities of high quality graphene. We are now planning to commence production and by utilising our existing production facilities we expect to lower our graphene production costs.

“This process is no more complex than existing production techniques thereby providing our customers greater product flexibility. Parameters such as secondary processing and dispersion mediums and methods can be set to meet end-use application requirements. Different solvents can be specified, a wide range of concentration levels can be selected from, as well as different product forms - either a liquid or powder.”

“This is a fundamental step forward in producing graphene using a patented, commercially viable production method and I would like to congratulate the 2-DTech team on their achievement. The graphene produced is of a very high quality and purity exhibiting the properties expected of single layer graphene. This has been tested by our own team as well as by a number of independent testing houses. We now look forward to increasing capacity to meet the demand for high quality supplies to complement our existing forms of graphene production.”

Versarien will be announcing its results for the year ending 31 March 2015 on 21 July 2015. The Company is expected to report results broadly in line with market expectations, with revenues of approximately £5 million.