“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” Chinese Proverb
A report in Chemical and Engineering News, Graphene’s global race to market, highlights the difficulty of commercialising anything from UK universities. While the article reports numerous commercial opportunities being exploited around the world, British academics seem still rooted in their ivory towers.
It’s bad enough that we have academics from Cambridge and Manchester claiming that it will be decades before we see any commercial applications of graphene, which begs the question of why there are a hundred million pounds worth of investment going into Manchester’s effort to commercialise graphene now, rather than next decade?
More worrying is the complete ignorance of commercial reality. This is exemplified by a Manchester Professor quoted as being “irritated by media hype surrounding graphene, especially claims that a single layer of the material could act as a membrane for desalinating seawater” who then claims that “the current polyamide-based membranes that are widely used in reverse-osmosis desalination systems are pretty efficient already.” Efficiency may be a relative term, but everyone we speak to about the graphene based membrane treatment technology developed at G2O seems to think that the very energy inefficient reverse osmosis prices currently in use leave a lot to be desired.
Instead of being irritated by hype it’s about time British academics stopped pooh poohing any commercial applications and either concentrated on curiosity based research or got out of the way of those trying to do the impossible.