Beyond the experimental phase: NanoXplore already developing a market for graphene
September 8, 2014 — Tracy Weslosky, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of InvestorIntel speaks to Dr. Soroush Nazarpour, President and CEO of NanoXplore Inc. (Nanoxplore) about its proprietary low cost electrochemical method to convert natural flake graphite into graphene, using much less energy than the more common vapor deposition and liquid exfoliation methods. Nanoxplore’s main advantage, given its lower cost, is scalability, which gives it the potential to make graphene into a more widely available material, bringing it from the lab to the market.
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Dr. Nazarpour, the author of numerous books and scholarly articles on the topic, describes graphene as a derivative material: “if you imagine graphite as a deck of cards, a single card would be graphene”. And that is perhaps the most effective description of this new material that has the power to revolutionize technology, even though so many remain unaware of its existence. Graphene has many properties and its strength is but one of those; it is also more electrically conductive than copper. Graphene is also flexible and transparent. Critically, it brings all these properties together into a single material, which is unprecedented.
Nanoxplore converts natural flake graphite directly to graphene, using a unique, safe and completely water based one-step process that also has the advantage of being very low cost. Mason Graphite (“Mason”, TSX.V: LLG | OTCQX: MGPHF), as Tracy points out, has invested in Nanoxplore and now owns some 40% of the Company, giving Mason an edge into the emerging graphene market and Nanoxplore a reliable supply of high grade graphite to make graphene. And different flake graphite inputs yields different types of graphene and “the ability to control the size and geometry of graphene is very important, according to the application,” says Dr. Nazarpour.
Tracy asks how long it will be before Mason Graphite sees revenue from their stake in Nanoxplore. In fact, Nanoxplore is already selling graphene, offering five different grades working with a number of international partners. It has three patents pending in the United States, and more in process, an important effort given that the proprietary nature of its technology is its main asset. Nanoxplore is also expecting to receive additional patents on the application aspects of graphene. For the time being, says Dr. Nazarpour, one of Nanoxplore’s main target markets is lubricant manufacturers and the Company is working with several of these in Canada and Europe. Nanoxplore is also working with desalination technology providers.
As for longer term application, Tracy points out that graphene is slated to replace lithium and graphite in Li-ion battery anodes. This is because most Li-ion batteries today are used to power hybrid vehicles, where the electric power supply is always backed by a gasoline powered motor. In the longer term, the trend will be toward fully electric vehicles, which will need higher power and longer lasting batteries that will need graphene to function: the trend is to replace graphite with graphene and this will happen as the graphene market matures and as “the price point drops to a point where it becomes financially viable.” Meanwhile, in the next six months Nanoxplore already plans to increase sales and, by introducing graphene made from Mason Graphite graphite into many new applications, “to help Mason Graphite in developing new markets.”
NanoXplore and Mason Graphite are advertorial members of InvestorIntel