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The Challenges of Graphene: Cost

  • Gepubliceerd op 8 oktober 2019

Debbie Nelson

Relationship Marketing Manager

As promised, the accompanying article to yesterday's first video for TLC Graphene Composites, written by author Liam Critchley

First in the series: "The Six Challenges of Graphene." 

The price point of a material is one of the many commercial challenges in any manufacturing/process industry. If the price point is not right, then it will not sell, not matter how good the product is. This is the same for graphene. Graphene has so many beneficial properties and can be used in many ways across many applications, but if it is too expensive, then no one will buy it—no matter how good the added benefits are.

This was the story of graphene for a number of years, but it is not alone within the nanotechnology and advanced materials industries. For many years, graphene showed promise but was not commercially viable, as the cost to buy it was far too high for any end-user to consider using over the already existing (and ultimately cheaper) materials. Generally, nanomaterials require more advanced fabrication processes compared to other materials and this is one of the many reasons why costs can be initially high. It takes many years of research and development, process optimization and production scale-up to achieve lower operational costs, which in turn yields lower selling costs to the consumer.

Many people forget that graphene was only first isolated in 2004. That is only 15 years ago. So, as an industry, graphene is still young, and the fact that the price has come down by so much in a short space of time is a testament to the global effort undertaken by academics, industry, associations and governments. To put it in perspective, billions of dollars have gone into graphene research and over 50,000 graphene patents have been filed worldwide in just 15 years. While the commercial success has been limited to date, the number of products entering the market is growing at exponential rate; and one of the main drivers for this has been a reduction in cost.

The high cost of graphene for many years is the reason why graphene has not yet been used within the plastics industry—as that is a low raw material cost industry—and is also the reason why we are only just starting to see its inclusion in composites. The advantages of using graphene in composites is well-documented, but it is only now that the price point is at a level where the focus is on the added value and not the cost of the raw material(s).

The Cost of Graphene Today

Like any material, the costs vary from company to company and is largely driven by the type of graphene and the quality of the graphene. In the current market, high quality graphene flakes will cost several hundred dollars on average. Back in 2008, the cost of one square inch of single layer graphene was around $80,000; so, it’s easy to see how graphene has become more commercially viable over the last 10 years or so. By comparison, graphite—the material which graphene is often made from—is only $1 per pound.

While this is a significant improvement, work still needs to be done to bring the cost down to levels where it can be used as an additive in practically any product—including plastics. TLC Graphene Composites has now developed a revolutionary process which will bring down the cost of graphene composites to less than $10 per pound. This low price point is even affordable for plastics. Our process bypasses the traditional graphene flake/resin approach for making graphene composites and is a novel proprietary exfoliation process using raw graphite and resin materials. So, our process can utilize the cost of graphite (rather than the cost of graphene raw materials), and this reduction in raw material cost is then passed on to you—the consumer and end-user.

If you’d like to know more about our innovative process, and how you too could benefit from affordable and high-quality graphene composites, get in touch with TLC Graphene Composites today!

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