The Future Of Industrial Graphene Products

Graphene is a world-renowned 2D material admired for its honeycomb structure in which carbon atoms bind with sp²-hybrid orbitals.

The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co. Ltd. is a global leader in the large-scale manufacture of graphene and graphene products, possessing the greatest capacity for graphene oxide in the world. The Sixth Element persistently strives to find new application areas of graphene and graphene products.

With its novel, water-based proprietary production process, The Sixth Element has the capacity to manufacture various graphene products across one production line.

Starting with graphite, the material is oxidized using a modified Hummers method to produce graphene oxide, thereby facilitating the separation into sheets of just a few atoms or even a single atom thick. The chemical structure includes epoxy-, carboxylic and hydroxy groups.

After purification, The Sixth Element yields the first commercial product of SE2430W-N, a concentrated paste of graphene oxide. In a further production step, a treatment process combining chemicals and heat is used to partly remove the oxygen groups to create a specific reduced graphene oxide: SE1430.

The schematic diagram of the Hummers method to prepare graphene oxide and the reduction method to prepare graphene powder.

Figure 1. The schematic diagram of the Hummers method to prepare graphene oxide and the reduction method to prepare graphene powder. Image Credit: The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd. 

Process roadmap – production insight.

Figure 2. Process roadmap – production insight. Image Credit: The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd. 

This is either used or sold as a precursor for additional unique heat treatments in order to produce various graphene types with specific designs: including SE1233 and SE1132, both of which differ in surface area and structure, exfoliation degree and sizes (illustrated in figure 1 and 2).

As previously mentioned, one of the key products The Sixth Element produces is graphene oxide. The paste, which is sold under the trade name SE2430W-N, is a multifaceted product that can be simply dispersed into single or multi-layered graphene oxide without the necessity for extra additives.

When concentrations are equal to or below 1% pH, suspensions can be easily adjusted. SE2340W-N can be utilized to generate extremely flexible oxide papers, which can be processed further for various applications such as heat dissipation.

In quantities below 1% and based on dry weight, the paste can even function as a reinforcing agent in water-based coating formulations to improve various characteristics such as abrasion resistance. In certain concrete formulations, minute quantities of SE2430W-N are enough to significantly enhance the mechanical properties of concrete.

Table 1. Key properties of SE2430W-N. Source: The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd.

  Specification
Appearance pH Solid
content
C (wt%,
element
analysis)
S (wt%,
element
analysis)
SE2430W-N Black
paste
1.8 – 2.3 43 +/- 5% 51 +/- 5% <2%

 

Due to the high amount of oxygen groups, the thermal stability of graphene oxide is mostly very limited. However, this is not the case with the reduced graphene oxide market under the trade name SE1430. The primary reason for this is the reduction in the number of oxygen groups in the chemical structure.

Table 2. Key properties of SE1430. Source: The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd.

  Specification
Appearance pH Tap density(g/cm3 Specific surface area(m2/g) H2O(wt%) Particle size(D50,μm, powder) C (wt%, element analysis) O (wt%, element analysis) S (wt%, element analysis)
SE1430 Black powder 2.0~5.0 <0.1 180~280 <4.0 <10.0 75 ± 5 16 ± 3 <0.5

 

To best utilize the properties of reduced graphene oxide, it is crucial to separate the primary particles, which are agglomerated in the powder.

Customers benefit from The Sixth Element’s technical knowledge that provides customers with the appropriate support depending on the usage of SE1430 in solvent, water-based, or resin suspensions.

Similar to SE2340W-N, small quantities below 1% are enough to improve the mechanical properties of various polymers such as thermoplastics, thermosets, rubber and thermoplastic elastomers.

SE1430 has also demonstrated its value in polymer formulations with conductive carbon black by boosting the mechanical properties close to neat resin level.

During product development, early on The Sixth Element designed a unique graphene type for corrosion protection applications as a pigment in zinc powder-based coating systems. The aim was to significantly limit the zinc content by utilizing graphene’s electrical conductivity and barrier properties.

Once again, only the primary particles supply these properties, for which The Sixth Element offers the appropriate technical instructions. With the primary particles in the formulation, the goal has been achieved.

Table 3. Key properties of SE1132. Source: The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd.

  Specification
Appear-ance

pH

Tap density(g/cm3 Specific surface area(m2/g) H2O(wt%) Particle size(D50,μm, powder) C (wt%, element analysis) O (wt%, element analysis) S (wt%, element analysis) Oil absorption(ml/ 100 g)
SE1132

Black powder

6.0~8.0 <0.1 180~260 <1.0 <10.0 ≥93 <3 <0.2 500±100

 

SE1132 can also significantly improve adhesion and the wear resistance of the coatings on the substrate. SE1132 has the appropriate electrical conductivity to function well in anti-corrosion primer systems.

However, if the electrical conductivity requirements are considerably greater, then SE1132 is not the product of choice: for that purpose, SE1233 has been developed.

When dispersed to primary particles, SE1233 demonstrates excellent percolation value. The electrical resistivity of the material addition determines the number of SE1233 added for optimization of electrical conductivity.

Typical values of addition are between 1 weight % to 3 weight %, which requires good dispersion of SE1233 into the primary particles. The Sixth Element also offers the appropriate technical instructions for various applications of SE1233, which include batteries, coatings, printing inks and conductive polymers.

The Sixth Element has also shown that combining SE1233 with other carbon-based conductive materials significantly reduces the total amount needed to achieve a defined electrical conductivity level. This positively influences the mechanical properties of polymer matrices.

In addition to its electrical properties, SE1233 also has an exceptionally high thermal conductivity, which can be used simultaneously to prepare highly thermal electrically conductive composites or coatings.

Table 4. Key properties of SE1233. Source: The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd.

  Specifications
Appearance pH Tap density(g/cm3 Specific surface area (m2/g) H2O(wt%) Particle size(D50, μm, powder) C (wt%, element analysis) Fe (ppm)
SE1233 Black powder 6.0~8.0 <0.1 400~600 <1.0 <50* In Europe: only available
<12
≥97 ≤500

*: depending on customer specification

In a particular application, Xinyitu (Zhejiang) New Materials Technology Co., Ltd uses SE1233 in the manufacturing process of a wall heat coating system. To achieve the desired temperatures, only a low voltage and low current are necessary due to the high electrical conductivity.

This is a considerable advantage over conventional wall heat systems that otherwise necessitate high voltages and high currents. If the system is appropriately installed, cable-free temperature control is possible.

Wall heating system.

Figure 3. Wall heating system. Image Credit: The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd. 

Comparison of conductivity of conductive pastes of different carbon materials.

Figure 4. Comparison of conductivity of conductive pastes of different carbon materials. Image Credit: The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd. 

In collaboration with The Sixth Element, Ningbo Shanyuan Graphene Technology has designed a particular conductive additive for lithium-ion batteries using SE1233. This additive is better than carbon materials such as Super P or carbon nanotubes and also superior to standard graphite materials (see figure 4).

The graphene demonstrates a stable two-dimensional network in which the active material is embedded much more efficiently than in graphite materials. This efficiency is supported by the excellent electrical and thermal conductivity of SE1233. The battery lifetime, capacity, charge-discharge cycle number and energy density are improved considerably.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd.

For more information on this source, please visit The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Materials Technology Co.,Ltd.

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