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Graphene—Nanoplastics’ Next Frontier!

SpecialChem / Donald Rosato – Jun 28, 2011

Graphene, a form of carbon just one atom thick, is a completely novel material that is the thinnest and strongest ever. Not only is graphene the thinnest possible material that is feasible, but it's also about 200-times stronger than steel and conducts electricity better than any material known to man at room temperature. When mixed into plastics, graphene can turn them into conductors of electricity while making them more heat resistant and mechanically robust. Vor-x from the Vorbeck Materials Group, a proprietary form of graphene containing functional groups, is a recent entry into the conductive additives market. Functionalized graphene like Vor-x from the Vorbeck Materials Group allows compatibility to be 'tuned' to a specific matrix, or specific material properties to be enhanced. Work is underway with electronic regulatory compliant/chemically and heat resistant PBT, PPA, PPS, LCP, PAEK, and PEEK plastic grades in Li-ion battery housing development. A new, novel class of meso-porous nanocomposites has been developed by Angstron Materials Inc., whose parent company is Nanotek Instruments Inc. based on nano graphene platelets (NGP). Supercapacitors with graphene offer the potential to supplement a battery used in an electric car to provide bursts of power needed for rapid acceleration. Researchers have made a graphene-based supercapacitor that can store as much energy per unit mass as nickel metal hydride batteries – but unlike batteries, can be charged or discharged in just minutes or seconds. Graphene is poised to compete against multi-walled nanotubes (MWNT) in energy storage, advanced composite, and coating applications. Graphene annual sales were under $200 thousand in 2009, but are anticipated to grow to $60 million by 2015.

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