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Graphene - A Future Mainstream Material in the Plastic Industry

Prithvi Lalwani – Jun 22, 2018

Graphene - A Future Material in the Plastic IndustryGraphene, the strongest material ever tested, is a nearly transparent and light-weighted material made of a one-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It is a semi-metal with a small overlap between the valence and the conduction bands, i.e. it is a zero band gap material.

It is also known as a ‘Wonder Material’ due to its multitude of astonishing properties, such as:

 − High strength
 − Excellent electrical conduction, and
 − Light absorption

It exhibits large and nonlinear diamagnetism (even greater than that of graphite) and can be easily levitated by neodymium magnets.

Graphene in the plastics industry is gaining a lot of attention from last few years. Graphene can be easily mixed with plastics, lending its incredible intra-sheet strength to the plastic matrix and making the combined material much stronger. It not only improves the strength of the plastic matrix but also improves resistance to chemical or thermal degradation. These properties act as an inspiration to both the creation of new products and the improvement of existing ones.

Even though graphene showcases exceptional properties, it is susceptible to oxidative environments when used as a catalyst. Further, during fabrication of devices, graphene needs to be supported on a substrate which suppresses its thermal conductivity. In order to grow graphene, toxic chemicals are used at high temperatures, which cause a concern to the human safety in the industry.

So, to overcome these challenges, researchers are continuously working make future of graphene - a promising one!

Let's take a look at the researches and trends going around contributing to the popularity of graphene...

Research Trends

With ~400 patents/published applications filed in the last 5 years, the use of graphene in the plastics industry has attracted a lot of attention of the researchers around the globe. The research in the domain has witnessed an upward trend with an average of ~ 63 patents/published applications filed every year.

Research Applications Published on Graphene
Research Applications Published on Graphene

NOTE: Filing data for 2017 and 2018 is not accurate as all patent applications which are filed are not yet published

The research in the domain has been conducted by various leading chemical players, such as:

 − Kaneka Corp.
 − Sumitomo Chemicals, as well as
 − The universities such as Rutgers University, University of Taiwan, and the University of Seoul

The domain has also witnessed various collaborations; most of them being between the companies and the universities. This is mainly due to the universities having the right set of capabilities and easy availability of technology platforms. The key researchers in the domain are:

Key Researchers of Graphene

The researchers have been researching various aspects of graphene such as composition, manufacturing, and integration processes. Few of the interesting recent trends in the industry are:

 − Use of graphene to form plastic tubes used in heat exchangers for various applications such as water desalination, power stations, refrigerating devices, and combustion engines. The tubes comprise of a graphite filler material, which is a mixture of graphite powders consisting of platelets, strands/fibers, and spherical particles.1

 − Graphite (various layers of graphene) is used in a house roof assembly, which comprises of a thermoplastic membrane having thermoplastic polyolefin sheet. Further, a fabric is arranged on expandable graphite. The thermoplastic and the fabric membranes are in the form of a composite. The usage of the composite material simplifies installation and saves in labor costs.2

 − Use of graphite in a flexible display device, which includes a display panel for displaying an image; and a flexible substrate on which the display panel is supported. The flexible substrate includes a plastic film having carbon and graphite material.3

 − Functionalized graphene nanoplatelets are used in a plain bearing shell of an IC engine. The plain bearing comprises a polymer-based composite layer arranged on a substrate. The composite layer includes a matrix of polymer-based material and functionalized graphene nanoplatelets.4

 − Graphite is used in a separator for a fuel cell. The separator comprises of three layers, i.e., a metal base layer, a plastic layer comprising conductive particles and a third layer comprising the plastic material which includes graphite particles. 5

 » Continue reading to explore the commercial trends in use of graphene along with their key drivers! 

1 Comments on "Graphene - A Future Mainstream Material in the Plastic Industry"
adrian o Jul 26, 2020
good day can it be used in thermoset plastics (polyester resin composite flat sheeting)for added toughness and strength thanks Adrian

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