29 November 2020
Scientists and commentators worldwide believe Graphene is the next giant leap forward for industry.
And a South Australian start-up has recently listed on the ASX to provide the capital to be part of that revolution.
Graphene Technology Solutions, an Adelaide University spin-out, has recently completed its back-door listing and recommenced trading on Monday 23 November 2020 as Sparc Technologies (SPN:ASX).
Dubbed the ‘World’s most Intelligent Material’, graphene is seen as a disruptive and transformational technology with extremely powerful properties to support advanced materials manufacturing, through enhancing existing product performance, as well as producing superior new products.
What exactly is 'Graphene' ?
Graphene is an allotrope of carbon (the property of some chemical elements to exist in two or more different forms in the same physical state) consisting of a single layer of atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice.
The name derives from "graphite" combined with the suffix -ene, based on the graphite allotrope of carbon consisting of stacked graphene layers.
Carbon atoms can bond with each other in many different ways giving rise to materials with remarkably different properties. Other allotropes of carbon include graphite, diamonds, buckminsterfullerene, nanotubes, nanobuds and nanoribbons. Carbon also forms bonds readily with other elements and is commonly found in organic compounds.
Since being isolated and characterised at the University of Manchester in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, Graphene is being heralded as the new super-material. A comparatively recent discovery.
For their ground-breaking work both were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.
A "graphene gold rush" has been sparked since the scientists published their results and described their simple preparation method.
Research has since exploded exploring different exceptional properties of Graphene — quantum mechanical, electrical, chemical, mechanical, optical, magnetic and recognistion of Graphene’s incredible strength by weight.
Super high strength
Graphene is the strongest material ever tested, with an intrinsic tensile strength of 130 GPa (19,000,000 psi), and tensile strength in the order of 50-60 GPa for stretching large-area freestanding graphene) and a Young's modulus (stiffness) close to 1 TPa (150,000,000 psi).
The Nobel announcement illustrated this by saying...
A 1 square metre graphene hammock would support a 4 kg cat, while itself weighing only as much as a cat's whisker.
- Unparalleled strength (200 times stronger than steel, harder than diamond)
- Light weight (1,000 times lighter than paper)
- Superior conductivity (conducting electricity better than any known material at room temperature)
- Water repellence
- Chemical repulsion
- Fire resistance
- Anti-microbial mechanisms
These incredible mechanical, chemical, electronic, and magnetic properties have widespread application and implications for any number of known fields, including energy, renewables, battery storage, sensors, aerospace, building materials, mobile devices and much, much more.
For this reason, scientists and commentators worldwide believe it is the next giant leap forward for industry.
Back to those bright Sparcs
Sparc Technologies back door listed by taking over ASX listed Acacia coal; a metamorphose from coal to graphene coincidentally seeing the company simply changing from commercialising one form of carbon to another. A carbon from the ancient past to a new form of carbon for the future.
The public listing is positive news for South Australia in further developing its place at the hub of graphene application development and commercialisation in Australia.
Sparc Technologies has been a significant R&D investor and commercialisation partner with the University of Adelaide, with a focus on developing industrial solutions utilising graphene in high value areas of…
- Marine & Protective Coatings
- Metals Recovery from Tailings
- and Environmental Remediation (water purification and soil remediation, oil spill containment and PFAS destruction).
Of course, this list should be considered as only their initial focus (for the purpose of getting to first revenues). However, familiarity breeds understanding and as a research-centric company with strong ties to Adelaide University, no doubt other applications will be identified. This is an exciting frontier technology.
The company has exclusive licenses to commercial UoA graphene technologies with global patents pending.
The decarbonising carbon
Graphene also promises a more environmentally sustainable industrial path, offering solutions to many environmental challenges, through substitution for more harmful materials, promoting a shift away from petrochemicals, enhancing renewable energy production, improving battery storage and solar energy technology, offering cleaner and more sustainable sources of water, through better contaminant monitoring systems, water treatment and desalination; and reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions (think aerospace for one).
The Australian context
The University of Adelaide is a leading institution in the field of graphene research, and a principal member of the Graphene Enabled Industry Transformation Hub, a $6.5 million initiative co-funded by the Australian Research Council in partnership with universities and industry partners designed to facilitate graphene industry development in Australia.
SPARC is just one listed Australian company seeking to accelerate path to market, joining other Graphene Hub Members and ASX-listed companies Archer Materials and First Graphene, as well as Eden Innovations, the Hazer Group and Talga Resources. From these few companies, we are seeing an exciting diversity of products emerging; from the development of biosensor technology for rapid detection of disease, strengthened, water resistant oyster baskets used in commercial aquaculture; superior coatings, polymers and paints, and new resin composites; graphene batteries, polymer composites for automotive, and development of the carbon-strengthened concrete additive, ‘EdenCrete’.
The graphene future
As with the discovery of any new technology, realising its full potential is a long and time-consuming process requiring painstaking research, sharing the learnings and ultimately some creative thinking.
However, a new material possessing such incredible properties will find its way into many practical applications possibly being paired with other technologies that have been stalled through lacking a suitable super material.
Graphene will be a game changer.