Fortunately the recent work at the University of Manchester using the same material, graphene oxide, had generated a huge amount of publicity while also demonstrating that G2O’s approach works. The key difference is of course that the work at Manchester is excellent science, while G2O has developed and patented the method to create large areas of the graphene layers deposited on polymer substrates.
Up to now the company has been concentrating on developing its technology, and now we are making the transition to developing industry driven applications. Part of the transition involves seeing how the technology stands up to scrutiny by the water industry, which, despite constantly calling for innovation, tends to be quite conservative in practice.
After a couple of 4am starts and a hundred conversations the outcome was positive. While the excitement about graphene water treatment is genuine I was more interested in learning whether we are adequately addressing real water industry problems.
The answer was overwhelmingly yes, with reduced energy and chemical inputs top of the industry wish list.
G2O’s membranes with their high flux are definitely disruptive in terms of energy and throughput but it is important not to be too disruptive in a conservative industry. Anything where the technology requires a redesign of the infrastructure, e.g a totally new type of filtration media with different pre treatment requirements or form factors will find resistance from the market.
Fortunately G2O’s graphene technology is sufficiently disruptive to enable what the water industry calls a “radical optimisation” of practice. This pushes improvements to water treatment about as far as they can go without becoming too innovative.