The Graphene Council: The Largest Global Graphene Community. By Akanksha Urade Ph.D.

One of the most exciting developments in material research in the last ten years has been the commercialization of graphene. Because of its superlative qualities and its capacity to impart them on sectors such as plastic, composites, structural materials, cement, coatings, textiles, and many others, graphene has sparked a significant interest. Although it is true that graphene is becoming more widely available and has now found its first wave of volume customers, there are a few factors that could hinder its commercial acceptance. Since graphene is competing against legacy materials, it is extremely important to educate the industry and end users on the benefits of graphene. There is a significant lack of awareness that graphene is a family of materials and that certain types and forms of graphene are best suited for different purposes. The lack of industry standards and certifications adds to the confusion for buyers.

 

Accelerating the Commercial Adoption of Graphene:

With the goal of serving the international graphene community and promoting the widespread commercial acceptance of graphene as a material, the Graphene Council was established in 2013. At present the graphene council is a global community of over 30,000 materials specialists and companies including Graphene-X working on advanced graphene and 2D materials, making it the largest of its kind. The graphene council is an independent, neutral organization dedicated to educating industry and end users about all aspects of graphene manufacturing, use, and applications. Even though graphene is becoming more widely used in industry, a lot of customers still don't know what graphene is or how to use it. The Graphene Council assist customers in determining what type of graphene material is most suited for their application and how to use a testing facility to develop an application that meets their requirements. The graphene council has observed that graphene has potential application areas in more than 40 vertical markets, as widely different as healthcare to construction, from batteries to boats, and from sensors to shirts. Surprisingly, many graphene producers are still unsure of which markets they will sell into, in part because there bare so many different opportunities. In order to better identify target markets for graphene producers, the graphene council provides specialized services, including custom development work for those businesses. This works not just for graphene producers, but The Graphene Council helps other business to evaluate which products in their portfolios might benefit from the use of graphene. 

Through these kinds of advisory services, the graphene council aims to assist companies in reducing their commercial risk by connecting them with trustworthy partners. In addition to these efforts, the graphene council is also conducting original industry research, market surveys and graphene market reports based on their direct collaboration with graphene producers, end users, regulators and the academic communities.

 

The Educational Efforts for Graphene Commercialization:

Another major step taken by the graphene council is the publication of The Graphene Report, which is the most up to date (updated at least twice a year) and comprehensive report that covers graphene production and characterization techniques, various forms of commercially available graphene materials, patents, reviews on graphene producing companies, patents, and market pricing data. This report provides information on pricing trends for the various forms of graphene available on a commercial scale. Many potential graphene buyers believe that the material is simply too expensive to be beneficial to them; nevertheless, the graphene market report enables them to realize how much graphene they truly need to improve their material and that cost is not the limiting factor. Besides this, the graphene council also provides weekly graphene reports and conducts educational webinars covering academic and commercial developments, patents, testing and characterization as well as other important aspects of graphene commercialization. 

Importantly, the graphene Council has also started holding the Graphene Council Meeting and Commercialization Conference. This in-person only event provides the very best opportunity to meet with leading graphene producers, application developers and end-users to share information and make valuable commercial networking connections. It is a one day event to get on the latest developments in graphene commercialization and standardizations. 

 

Creating Transparency in the Global Graphene Market:

One of the major challenges to the commercial adoption of graphene is the unavailability of a system enabling customers to specify graphene, for example unavailability of a CAS registry number given to every chemical substance.

There are currently no industry-defined standards for graphene materials such as graphene oxide (GO), few-layer graphene (FLG), graphene nanoplatelets (GNP), or functionalized or non-functionalized graphene. Unfortunately, many manufacturers sell them under the simple umbrella label "graphene." As a result, when customers purchase materials from different suppliers they are likely to discover variations in the material they receive; particularly because of different raw materials, manufacturing process, and processing parameters.

To provide industry and customers to have confidence in the values they receive from producers, in April 2021, The Graphene Council, in conjunction with 100 volunteer graphene specialists from around the world, collaborated to design the Graphene Classification Framework (GCF). The GCF is a protocol for distinguishing between different types and forms of graphene. It also contained a set of standardized test methodologies, standardized terminology for describing different types of graphene, and a standardized Technical Data Sheet Template. In 2023, the Graphene Classification Framework (GCF) is expected to be approved as an ISO Technical Specification. The GCF's purpose is to help the global industry avoid confusion and misunderstanding between buyers and suppliers. Nevertheless, these efforts will only be worthwhile when the graphene industry starts accepting this framework.

 

The Verified Graphene Producer Program:

Assume you are a customer looking to upgrade your present technology with graphene materials. You simply buy a graphene material with the assumption that it will satisfy all of your requirements because either you have blind faith in the seller, or you probably have no formal awareness about the graphene material.

Even if you consider characterizing the material on your own, you will probably not go through that procedure to determine whether the material you receive meets the criteria or not since a comprehensive characterization of a graphene sample costs a lot. Consequently, it is extremely difficult for customers to determine whether their graphene supplier is reliable and capable of producing on a large scale.

The Graphene Council plays a significant role here by providing transparency to customers on how to connect with trusted graphene partners through their Verified Graphene Producer TM, Verified Functionalized Graphene TM, and Verified Graphene Product TM program and to promote communication and build credibility between suppliers and buyers.

The Verified Graphene Producer Program is the only process available that entails in-person inspections of graphene production facilities to determine the type of raw material utilized, the graphene manufacturing process, and the quality and safety of the product until it is sent to the customer. They also take a random sample of this material from the manufacturing process and characterized by tests such as TEM, SEM, XPS, and AFM at world class labs (like the National Physical Laboratory in the United Kingdom) to ensure that the graphene meets the technical specifications set by the ISO definition for graphene and as described by the manufacturer. If all the criteria are met, the Graphene Council grants the respective producer the status of Verified Graphene Producer. Kyorene (Graphene-X’s strategic partner for graphene sourcing), for example, was one of the first companies to receive this verified status. Also, MITO Material Solutions most recently achieved the Verified Functionalized Graphene TM accreditation.

 

The Future of Graphene:

Graphene producers need to realize that they can't just sell someone a black powder and leave them to their fate. If graphene producers truly want to compete in the market, they must collaborate with their customers to demonstrate how to use this material and develop an application in conjunction with them. I must remark that The Graphene Council's continual effort over the last ten years by educating these industries and customers has been incredibly defining for the progress that we witness now in the graphene sector. The Graphene Council is created by the graphene community, for the graphene community, and of the graphene community, with the ultimate purpose of accelerating global graphene adoption.

 

References:

The graphene council (2022). Available at https://www.thegraphenecouncil.org/ Open letter to the global graphene community (2022). Available at https://www.thegraphenecouncil.org/blogpost/1501180/481903/Open-Letter-to-the-global-graphene-community Graphene Standards (2022). Available at https://www.thegraphenecouncil.org/page/GrapheneStandards ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

by Akanksha Urade

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