We’ve been waiting for years for Manchester to create some graphene related businesses despite being the global hub for graphene research. One has finally popped up, Graphine Ltdwhich claims that “Graphene can further enhance the already excellent properties of rubber and elastomers by improving their strength, elasticity, flexibility, thermal stability, resistance to chemicals and durability. With the support of Grafine Ltd, manufacturing companies will be able to give product designers even greater flexibility when they create new products.”
To be fair, graphene is still at an early stage and there is still a lot of trial and error work to be done which essentially involves dumping it into various materials and hoping that it will provide a sufficient performance boost to persuade someone other than the odd Formula One team to switch materials and pay a premium. A lot of the applications that I have seen have had no scientific merit let alone any exploitable commercial potential. Talking to the sort of academics behind Graphine should be one of the first things that anyone with an interest in graphene does.
What is also clear is that companies such as Haydale who set great store by using graphene as an additive and have recently had a number of setbacks (such as their recent disappointing trial with a glass fibre pipe makerwhere adding graphene hasn’t had the desired improvement) could also benefit from a bit of expert help.
It’s not entirely clear from the Graphine press releasewhether the company is “developing innovative high-performance rubbers, elastomers and other such soft materials enhanced with graphene”, or a “providing a range of consultancy services to companies wishing to exploit the benefits that these nano-materials can bring to their elastomeric products and coatings.”
Their web site suggests the latter, although why the University of Manchester’s commercialisation department UMI3 has set up a company Graphene Enabled Systems (whose losses increased from £59,726 in 2016 to £152,259 in 2017) to set up a company to enable some academics to provide expert advice to businesses which they could do through the University remains even more of a mystery than graphene’s killer application.