Graphite and the Global Graphene Expo: Interview with Daniel Kenny

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Please tell us a bit about Asbury.

Asbury was founded in 1895, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in America when Harry M. Riddle leased a grist mill from a relative in the town of Asbury, New Jersey. Mr. Riddle hired a miller to transport the operation of the mill from flour to graphite refining, and began processing raw graphite materials sourced from within the United States; as well as Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Korea through brokers in nearby New York City to support his growing company – the Asbury Graphite Mills.

Now a fourth-generation family owned business, the Riddle family remains at the helm – and has guided Asbury’s growth over the years to become the largest processor of amorphous, flake, and synthetic graphite in the world.

With ten manufacturing locations throughout Canada, Europe, Mexico, and the United States, Asbury is a global provider of engineered solutions for today’s demanding industrial applications.

Could you please tell us a bit about some of the products you offer and their applications?

Asbury Carbons has a fairly extensive product portfolio. Our graphite materials (amorphous, flake, vein, as well as synthetic) are used in applications ranging from coatings, fire retardants, friction products, gaskets, graphene, rubber compounds, and engineered composites.

We also produce a line of unique graphite nanoplatelet (GNP) materials featuring very high surface areas. Our unique manufacturing process yields GNP particles that have been significantly de-agglomerated, providing easier incorporation into our customer’s formulation(s).

In addition to our graphite materials, we source activated carbon, carbon black, coals, cokes (metallurgical and petroleum), and fibers (aramid and carbon). Our non-carbon products include boron nitride, used extensively in aluminium extrusion and thermal management applications, and synthetic zinc sulfide – used as an additive for friction products, as well as lubrication applications.

Asbury also produces a wide range of oil, solvent, and water-based coatings for aluminium extrusion, anti-static protection, casting, electromagnetic interference (EMI), fiber impregnants, forging, printed circuit boards, as well as other industrial lubrication and maintenance applications.

The diversity of our material offerings is driven by the application problems our customers have asked us to solve for them after more than a century in business. While we may processes materials, what we truly provide to our customers and partners are engineered solutions for a wide range of industrial applications.

What makes your products different to anything else in the market?

I think what separates Asbury from our competition is, first, our ability to source significant quantities of raw material to support any application our products can be used in.

If you look at the projected growth for graphene production over the next 3-5 years, volumes are expected to increase sharply – and graphene manufacturers will need a supplier that can keep pace with that exploding demand.

We’ve been in the business of grinding and sizing materials for more than a century, and we draw on a wealth of industrial experience and a tremendous focus on quality as an ISO 9001:2015 certified organization, to provide our customers with materials that are produced to exacting specifications – and with extremely tight tolerances.

Asbury also provides direct access to our technical services team at the company headquarters in Asbury, New Jersey. Our team collaborates with both academia and industry to develop next generation applications using our materials, as well as working with our customers to engineer solutions for their complex and demanding requirements.

Where do you see the Graphene market heading in the future?

It’s an old joke that graphene can do anything but get out of the lab, and this attitude is driven in part by a lot of the early hype that surrounded this material after Geim and Novoselov first isolated graphene at the University of Manchester in 2004.

I think the success of many of the graphene producers we heard from at the Global Graphene Expo is driven by years of research, and significant investment, into proving the benefits of their materials as a replacement for current additives in applications ranging from composites to printed electronics.

I’ve seen estimates of market growth as high as 60% through 2024, which is optimistic to say the least, but I think that growth in the range of 30-40% is realistic, and is proven out by data shared by many of the speakers at this year’s show.

Why do you think conferences like the Global Graphene Expo are important?

I think that events like the Global Graphene Expo are important as they are a fantastic opportunity for the graphene community to provide real world application data on the use of their materials, and the various graphene materials available in the market today.

One of the biggest hurdles any new material has to jump is educating end users on how it can benefit their application of choice.

Why did Asbury want to attend the conference this year?

Asbury has made a point of supporting research and development into graphene commercialization for years, and the Global Graphene Expo is an excellent chance for us to continue that work.

It is an invaluable opportunity to get in front of industry stakeholders and discuss how we can support their efforts from the product development phase, through market introduction, and eventual growth as their materials are incorporated into commercial applications.

About Daniel Kenny

Daniel Kenny is the graphene market manager for Asbury Carbons.  A graduate of Rutgers University in 2006, he lives in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with his wife and three daughters.

 

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