Written by Liam Critchley
The Global Graphene Expo this year showcased a wide range of products that are already available in the marketplace. Building on the prospects from last year about ‘what could be’ in the graphene space, it was refreshing sight to see the high output of end-user products within the commercial market. At the expo, there were three main ways that products were showcased—in some of the plenary talks, in the 5-minute product pitches and in the exhibition hall. The number of products showcased is a testament to how well the industry is progressing and the resulting confidence that is being instilled in the commercial market.
The first series of commercial products of the Expo were presented by Giulio Cesareo from Directa Plus. Apart from giving us the first glimpse into the extent that graphene has penetrated the commercial market, one of the interesting points of the talk was the range of industries that graphene is now used in. For Directa Plus, the products included a wide range of graphene-based clothing (including a recent collaboration with Arvind jeans), an absorbent material (known as Grafysorber®) that can soak up hydrocarbons and be used to clean up oil spills and using graphene in road surfaces. One of the keynote speakers, James Baker from the National Graphene Institute, also sported and talked about the recent graphene shoes produced by Inov-8. Ani Sumant from the Argonne National Laboratory also shared his experience of using graphene in a solid-based lubricant, and the work being undertaken to realize a commercial pipeline seal product for the oil and gas industry. This is in addition to the recent announcement by XG Sciences (and subsequent discussions at the Expo) of Ford using their graphene to create automotive parts.
On to the five-minute product pitches. This is a quick-fire session that enables graphene producers to showcase their products, or areas where their products are used. This session was run last year, but the are marked differences between the two sessions. Last year’s five-minute pitches mostly focused around the companies own raw graphene products, and whilst some of this year’s speakers did mention the graphene products that they produce, the focus of a significant portion of the talks was around the end-user products that use graphene (as well as prototypes that could hit the market soon).
First up was Pulin Wang, from StretchMed Inc, who talked about one of their own graphene-based products—a graphene tattoo. These flexible and stretchable electronic tattoos can be used to continuously monitor many human biometric signals for use in both health and fitness applications. This is a product that is currently in the prototype stage. Another prototype product was discussed by Albert Hung from Pacific Industrial Consultants (PIC) and is a graphene-based coating that can be used to create a range of rapid heating textiles with potential applications in the automotive sector (heated seats etc) and radiators.
Matt Reid, from Graphene One, presented their graphene-polymer fibres (Kyorene ®) and showcased that they provide products themselves using these fibers, but can also supply the fibers as a yarn for other textile manufacturers to use in their own products. Graphene One creates a lot of products for the sportswear industry, such as workout tops and yoga pants, to bedding materials for the medical industry, and safety and PPE equipment including gloves and respiration masks.
Charles Cauchy, from Promethient, discussed their solid-state heat pump product which uses graphene as the conductive and thermal transfer medium, with applications in thermal regulation. Promethient are currently working with a series of partners to implement this heat pump into thermally regulating clothes, buses and in the medical industry for the heating and cooling of joints.
The final product pitch was not actually a graphene product, but it deserves a mention because it is an interesting and novel instrumentation that helps with determining how many layers, or the degree of impurities and contamination, a graphene sample has, in a timely fashion. The product in question is an imaging ellipsometry instrument (a combination of microscopy and spectroscopy) developed by Accurion.
Overall, there are a wide range of applications coming out and many of these use different forms of graphene, which showcases the versatility in the industry today. The difference from 12 months ago in the number of commercial products that use graphene is massive, and this makes it interesting to see whether this exponential growth will continue over the next 12 months (and beyond), and what new products might be realized soon.
Written by NGA Board Member, Liam Critchley.
About the National Graphene Association (NGA)
The National Graphene Association is the main organization and body in the U.S. advocating and promoting the commercialization of graphene. NGA is focused on addressing critical issues such as policy and standards development that will result in effective integration of graphene and graphene based materials globally. NGA brings together current and future graphene stakeholders — entrepreneurs, companies, researchers, developers and suppliers, investors, venture capitalists and government agencies — to drive innovation, and to promote and facilitate the commercialization of graphene products and technologies.