Due to their unique physical and chemical properties, graphene-based materials find an ever-increasing use in a range of advanced applications, including polymer composites, coating additives, thermal adhesives, and energy storage. The adoption of graphene-based materials in consumer products requires a more careful evaluation of the potential impact of these materials on human health and the environment.
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Recently, Applied Graphene Materials, a leading developer and manufacturer of graphene nanoplatelet dispersions, unveiled an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional graphene-based additives that improves end-products sustainability without compromising performance.
Graphene is a carbon allotrope (a different physical form of an element) consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice. Pristine graphene exhibits outstanding electron mobility, the highest thermal conductivity of all materials, mechanical rupture strength more than 300 times higher than steel, and Young’s modulus of more than 1012 Pa.
Graphene research has expanded exponentially since 2004, when the material was isolated and systematically characterized. As a result, graphene and its derivatives emerged as one of the most versatile exotic materials of the 21st century.
Recent advances have demonstrated that graphene-based materials can have a profound impact on the industry with a wide range of applications in electronic and optoelectronic devices, chemical sensors, nanocomposites, coatings, and energy storage devices.
What Benefits the Use of Graphene Nanoplatelets Provides?
Among the many applications of graphene and graphene-based materials, their use as coating additives has seen a significant increase in the last decade. In particular, graphene nanoplatelets emerged as one of the exciting new graphene-based materials on the market.
Graphene nanoplatelets are a two-dimensional material that consists of multiple sheets of graphene stacked on top of each other. These graphene stacks have an average thickness of around 1-10 nanometers and lateral dimensions in the range of 1-25 micrometers. The nanoplatelets exhibit similar properties to graphene but are easier to manufacture and process.
Adding this structure to existing industrial materials improves many of their properties, such as mechanical, barrier, thermal, lubricating, and electrical performance of the resulting composite. Thus, graphene nanoplatelets have become highly attractive for a broad spectrum of industrial applications.
Looking for a More Sustainable Alternative
With the increased use of graphene derivatives in the industry, there is a growing necessity to comply with stringent health and safety legislation and eliminate non-renewable carbon sources. Many manufacturers are introducing bioderived alternatives to traditional chemicals as well as novel sustainable products.
Recently, Applied Graphene Materials (AGM), a UK-based company specializing in graphene nanoplatelet dispersions, has launched a new range of eco-friendly products that aim to boost the sustainability of paints, coatings, and composites formulations.
AGM uses a well-established proprietary process for bottom-up manufacturing of large volumes of graphene nanoplatelets.
Unlike other graphene production methods, AGM's technique does not rely on heavy metal catalysts, graphite supply, or other fossil-based carbon sources. The continuous chemical vapor deposition process behind the Genable range of graphene nanoplatelet dispersions is based on sustainable, readily available raw materials like ethanol that can be derived from bio-based sources.
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Bio-Derived Alternatives to Traditional Chemicals
Achieving consistent and successful incorporation of graphene nanoplatelets into existing manufacturing processes and formulations is often problematic, but AGM's scientists succeeded in developing enhanced compatibility of the Genable 1700 series of eco-friendly graphene nanoplatelet dispersions with a wide range of applications.
Unlike standard graphene nanoplatelet dispersions, which are supplied in a range of industry-standard carrier solvents, such as butyl acetate, xylene, and ethyl acetate, the Genable 1700 product series is combined with a selection of certified biobased solvents and resins available in the market.
These include the bio-renewable solvent Cyrene, which is derived from cellulose, and bio-based resins like Entropy Resin One and Entropy Resin CCR. The latter are solvent-free liquid epoxy resins manufactured from quickly renewable raw materials.
Using these novel bio-based graphene nanoplatelet products would enable AGM's industrial partners to benefit from significant performance improvements, such as improved chemical resistance, barrier, and anti-corrosion properties while eliminating the consumption of non-renewable resources.
The Fate of Graphene-Based Nanomaterials in the Environment
The next big challenge arising from the widespread use of graphene-based nanomaterials is to understand how they affect the environment at the end of their lifecycle so that they may be utilized, transported, and disposed of safely.
Currently, there is sparse knowledge about the propagation and long-term fate of graphene-based nanomaterials in the environment and their effects on living organisms. Some studies suggest that such nanomaterials are chemically similar to polyaromatic hydrocarbons, requiring the development of recycling and reuse strategies. To enable sustainable solutions from manufacturing companies like AGM to have full effect, thorough examinations of nanomaterials' fate within the environment are necessary.
Continue reading: Achieving Large Scale Production of Graphene and Graphene Products
References and Further Reading
Applied Graphene Materials (2021) AGM launches eco-friendly graphene dispersions. Additives for Polymers, 2021 (8), 4. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0306-3747(21)00145-7
G. Lazzari (2021) AGM Launches a New Range of Eco-friendly Graphene Dispersions [Online] www.ipcm.it Available at: https://www.ipcm.it/it/post/agm-launches-new-range-eco-friendly-graphene-dispersions.aspx
P. Malnati (2021) Outsized Impact: Graphene Nanoplatelets [Online] www.pfonline.com Available at: https://www.pfonline.com/articles/outsized-impact-graphene-nanoplatelets
Kulyk, B. et al. (2021) A critical review on the production and application of graphene and graphene-based materials in anti-corrosion coatings. Critical Reviews in Solid State and Materials Sciences. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/10408436.2021.1886046
Fadeel, B., et al. (2018) Safety Assessment of Graphene-Based Materials: Focus on Human Health and the Environment. ACS Nano, 12 (11), 10582-10620. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.8b04758
Zhu, Y., et al. (2018) Mass production and industrial applications of graphene materials. National Science Review, 5, 90-101. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nwx055
Cataldi, P., et al. (2018) Graphene Nanoplatelets-Based Advanced Materials and Recent Progress in Sustainable Applications. Appl. Sci., 8, 1438. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/app8091438
Mohan, V. B., et al. (2018) Graphene-based materials and their composites: A review on production, applications and product limitations. Composites Part B: Engineering, 142, 200-220. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compositesb.2018.01.013