In recent years we have heard that graphene can be the next super material due to its immense strength and electrical conduction properties. The next step is for large scale, low cost, graphene production to occur so as to supply the market demand. It looks like graphene’s time has now come.
A 2019 Canaccord UK research report estimated worldwide graphene sales were likely to take off over the next few years reaching US$4.8 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 45%. That is a huge forecast demand increase, effectively forecasting in the next 2 years graphene demand will double, then double again, and so on.
Graphene – Properties, Facts, and Applications
One company is currently scaling up their graphene production from their new facility in Canada to meet what should be extremely strong demand this decade. That company is ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSXV: ZEN) (“ZEN”).
ZEN is an emerging graphene technology solutions company with a focus on the development of graphene-based nanomaterial products and applications. ZEN sources its graphite to make graphene from its ‘unique’ Albany Graphite Project. I say unique because independent labs in Japan, UK, Israel, USA and Canada have independently demonstrated that ZEN’s Albany PureTM Graphite is an ideal precursor material which easily converts (exfoliates) to graphene using a variety of methods.
Some of the numerous applications for ZEN’s graphene include:
- Aerospace and aircraft – Graphene coatings that can greatly improve corrosion resistance, reduce friction and can be hydrophobic reducing ice formation. Graphene composites also help to increase strength and flexibility while potentially reducing overall weight.
- Fuel Additive – Graphene oxide in diesel/jet fuel improves fuel economy and reduces greenhouse emissions.
- Electromagnetic shielding and electrostatic dissipation.
- Desalinization membranes and low-energy dehumidification.
- Heavy metal scavenging –Graphene quantum dot/nanocellulose membranes are a recyclable material capable of removing industrial contamination.
- Photovoltaics, displays, biomedical applications using graphene quantum dots. Graphene based virucidal inks embedded in protective clothing to fight COVID-19 are another useful application right now.
- Material enhancement using graphene. Graphene is also useful to boost tires strength and performance as well as a concrete additive to boost performance. Graphene can also be used to strengthen clothing for military applications. Graphene also strengthens aluminum, rubber, plastics and other materials.
- Hydrogen storage and production – Graphene is an ideal catalyst for water splitting (10x more efficient than platinum catalysts) and can store hydrogen in a solid state.
- Advanced batteries –Anode energy densities are 1500mAh/g in graphene-enhanced aerogels and 840mAh/g with reduced graphene oxide. Graphene has greater conductivity and improves cold weather performance. Samsung is developing an advanced graphene phone battery.
ZEN Graphene Solutions Guelph, Ontario facility is scaling up graphene production in 2020
The Guelph graphene facility opened in March 2020 and is now scaling up graphene production to sell to the many potential buyers as discussed above.
In addition to ZEN’s Guelph facility ramping up production, ZEN announced in July 2020 a new partnership with Evercloak and NGen for a ‘Graphene in Cleantech Manufacturing Project’. The announcement states:
“The project entitled “Advancing Large-Scale Graphene and Thin-Film Membrane Manufacturing” will support the scale up of graphene oxide (GO) production by ZEN to supply GO to Evercloak for their scale up and optimizing activities.”
For ZEN this is another significant endorsement and step forward along the pathway of commercializing their graphene. Evercloak is commercializing a manufacturing platform for producing continuous, large-area, monolayers of exfoliated 2D nanomaterials, including graphene, graphene oxide, molybdenum disulfide, and carbon nanotubes. These films are increasingly used for a wide range of applications such as energy storage, smart packaging, electronic devices, corrosion inhibitors, and membranes. Evercloak’s initial focus is on manufacturing graphene-based membranes for dehumidification to significantly reduce the energy use and associated greenhouse gas related with building cooling.
ZEN’s CEO Francis Dubé commented: “ZEN is pleased to support Canadian graphene-based innovations and Evercloak is a wonderful example of what can be achieved with nanomaterials and Canadian entrepreneurship. NGen supports the accelerated development of high potential technologies such as our graphene collaboration. We look forward to helping Evercloak bring breakthrough technology to everyday life.”
Success in the manufacturing sector is about collaboration with your supply chain. ZEN continues to win interest in their graphene products and continues to develop a supply chain, on this latest occasion with Evercloak.
A recent C$2 million capital raise means ZEN has cash to accelerate their near term expansion activities, which will include funds for the Albany Graphite Project, further graphene research, graphene production scale up, COVID-19 initiatives, and other graphene applications development. Also the recent engagement of Hybrid Financial to help market ZEN should boost the number of eyes on the stock.
Combine the above with continuing commercial success selling graphene products and 2020 should see a successful year for ZEN. Late 2020 and 2021 should start to see revenues coming in and a lot more interest in both graphene and ZEN Graphene Solutions. Despite the stock price more than doubling since April 2020, the stock still looks reasonably priced trading on a market cap of C$57 million.