Graphene set to change the future, but Australian commercialisation needs incentivisation

The nanomaterial graphene holds vast industrial possibilities, but more incentives are needed to commercialise world-leading Australian research, the Graphene + Enabled Smart Cities Conference heard yesterday.

Chair of the Australian Graphene Industry Association Chris Gilbey said in his opening remarks at yesterday’s event that graphene was a critical ingredient in the “smart cities” of the future, due to its remarkable properties. Graphene – an atom thin layer of hexagonally-arranged carbon atoms – is the lightest, strongest and most electrically-conductive material known.

Australia had established early leadership in its research, but more needed to be done to “incentivise” the industries positioned to commercialise this.

“Industry is already acting to develop graphene-enabled products, but it needs to be incentivised to develop the value-add activities and therefore jobs associated with this emerging local sector. It’s incumbent on our policymakers to support the creation of market conditions that encourage the proliferation of our graphene innovation into global supply chains,” Gilbey told the conference.

Picture: wikipedia

“Graphene can be the panacea to deliver the ‘jobs and growth’ mantra we hear from politicians. We care about our Aussie sportspeople punching above their weight and winning gold, however our graphene scientists have been doing precisely this for some years. We need to move their stories into the mainstream because they are the heroes of our time. Their work will do more than garner gold medals. It will generate billion-dollar revenues for Australia and make our economy great again.”

Graphene was first physically isolated only in 2004, with the pair behind this research winning the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for this work. It is yet to find a breakout commercial application, but holds promise in water treatment, when used in even tiny amounts in composites, and in numerous other situations. (see list below.)

“While the practical applications for graphene are varied and almost limitless, its potential to slash carbon dioxide emissions on an industrial scale is what could soon make it the globe’s hottest commodity. This will be achieved by decoupling existing supply chains and restructuring them to include low-cost graphene,” said Gilbey, who is also executive chairman of graphene company Imagine Intelligent Materials.

“New supply chains are where the job creation will be, and jobs will go to jurisdictions that understand this. The industries and businesses that recognise this first will reap the rewards.”

The event was at Swinburne University’s Hawthorn, Melbourne campus.

Featured pic:

10 ways graphene is set to change the future (author: AGIA)

MOBILE PHONES – Graphene is a crucial smart phone ingredient. It’s what makes their screens flexible and bendable, and helps take heat away from lithium ion batteries, making phones safer.

Bendable electronics such as smartphones are an area of potential for graphene. (Picture:

WATER PURIFICATION – Graphene has properties that enable membranes to extract pollutants, making water security possible. Victorian companies Ionic Industries and CleanTeq are developing this capability.

AUTOMOTIVE – Graphene-coated textiles have enabled human machine interfaces for cars. Geelong-based Imagine Intelligent Materials developed the first prototype of this technology for Daimler last year.

MINING – Graphene-coated textiles enable tailings dams to be safer. Imagine Intelligent Materials developed a way to test for holes in dam linings and licensed it to Melbourne-based Geofabrics.

SMART CITIES AND BUILDING – Imagine Intelligent Materials has developed sensing systems using graphene that can monitor for stress cracks in concrete and wood construction.

ENERGY STORAGE – Ionic Industries has developed revolutionary supercapacitor technology – necessary for a huge amount of technology that requires fast release of energy: cars, cameras, devices etc.

AGRICULTURE – Qenos, a leading polyester company, is developing high-strength water pipes that would revolutionise the agricultural sector.

ROADS – Imagine Intelligent Materials has developed prototype sensing systems that can be integrated into roads, to provide information on a variety of things to make roads safer.

HEALTH – Graphene is being integrated into wound dressings because of its anti-microbial qualities.

TRUCKING – Imagine Intelligent Materials is developing a “smart truck” in conjunction with local truck and warehousing company, MTAW. This will enable monitoring of cargo in the truck in real time.

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