The great blank that was the Manchester graphene conference
It was billed as one of the key discussions about the wonder material. And it was held in Manchester, where graphene was discovered. Graphite is grabbing headlines, graphene is now starting to join it in the spotlight. Therefore, clearly this was a major news event especially as some of the leaders in the field were presenting papers there.
So, plenty of news to write about, yes? Well, no, by the look of it. Put the conference into Google News and you will see several reports that the conference was beginning on June 13. But as for what went on their – call that a great blank.
From Die Welt to The Financial Times graphene has been covered of late; but it’s déjà vu for those of us who went through the rare earth frenzy in 2011 when everybody in the media and their dog discovered REE. You remember: “Rare earths comprise 17 elements that do everything from ….” Well, you know only too well. Only this time it’s all that basic information about graphene being one atom thick and 200 times stronger than steel. As for the Manchester conference, nothing that I could find. So how about the websites? Checked Scientific American, Science Daily and Discovery. Nothing.
Plenty of newspapers still, even in their present dark days, have science writers. And there is no question that the Manchester conference would have provided plenty to write about.
Fortunately, someone there took the trouble to write up some aspects. Warwick Grigor of Canaccord Genuity is one of Australia’s best known and most respected analysts of the mining sector and he makes a point of looking at projects for himself. He arrived in Manchester for the conference after being in Turkey (assessing gold and uranium projects) and Sweden (where he went to the mining centre of Kiruna).
Grigor has sent out some news on the conference for his clients, and has written up the event in a manner suited to investors trying to get their heads around graphene rather than for specialists.
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He noted that the lecture theatre was “full of high-powered brains giving papers on the uses of graphene for a wide range of purposes”. He says the most notable feature was the universal acceptance that graphene could be combined with many different substances, in relatively small amounts, to great enhance projects. He saw it as not so much about graphene in isolation; rather it seemed to him the interest was in graphene as an additive.
Grigor said there were two corporate/financial speakers who, interestingly, spoke of graph as a “disruptive technology”. They clearly wanted game-changer developments, not incremental advances.
“One speaker said that there were 50 producers of graphene in the world today, but obviously he was including parties that produce a few kilograms at a time,” writes Grigor. “Other people I spoke to said they had trouble sourcing graphene and, sometimes when they had purchased it, the product resembled graphite a lot more than it did graphene. Presenters frequently talked about the production process being ‘bottom up’ or ‘top down’, with all of them involving an element of secrecy, complications and cost”.
Grigor has been watching the graphite scene for some time, acknowledges that it has been “a hot sector”, but adds that much of the interest (at least in Australia) is attributable to graphite and not so much to graphene.
Well, no one can complain that Investor Intel has been ignoring the graphene story.
But, if like Warwick Grigor, you were at the Manchester graphene conference, do post some comments to this item. There will be plenty of Investor Intel readers who would very keen to hear more details of what went on. Alternatively, if anyone knows of reports that Google News might have missed, let us know and we’ll track them down.
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