Mike Rogers, CTO of 1st Graphene answers questions about graphene on Quora.
Here are some of Mike’s responses to questions posed by Quora members:
The wonder material graphene requires the use of large amounts of harmful chemicals, is it worth the effort to obtain it?
As I understand it the chemicals referred to are limited to specific manufacturing processes, used in relatively small amounts, do not become part of the end product, subject to very tight environmental controls, and recycled to reduce manufacturing costs rather than released into the environment. Graphene is non-polluting, it is just carbon. Graphene production could end up becoming a way to reduce the the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Is it worth it? It will enable the world to produce and store clean energy and water at a much lower cost than ever before. That is just for starters. Look into all the potential applications and you will find that Graphene has the potential to help make humanity humane.
How would two atom sheets of graphene connect without it becoming graphite?
The answer to this question is easy to look up on Wikipedia. There is a way to stack graphene called Bernal Stacking where the lattices are turned in such a manner to allow the carbon atoms to bond (bi-layer Graphene) rather than being held together by van der Waals forces (Graphite). This method also allows for a number of developments in using graphene including the potential for a tunable band gap making possible the use of graphene in electronic applications.
What’s the difference between pure graphene and oxidized pristine graphene?
There are a couple possible ways to answer this question and I will weigh in but rely on the really smart people for the final word.
Buckyballs or fullerenes (0 Dimensional), and carbon nanotubes (1 dimensional) are pure graphene because they have no other elements besides carbon, but they don’t have all the exceptional qualities of 2 dimensional graphene.
2 dimensional graphene comes in a range of quality. The first qualifier is that it is one atom thick, then comes the ratio of carbon to oxygen and then the level and type of impurities or defects. Pure 2D graphene is unlikely to exist because there will be bonding with other elements at the perimeter.
The larger the sheets lower the ratio of non-carbon elements. Heating the oxidized graphene lowers the level of oxygen and impurities at the perimeter encouraging the sheets of graphene to bond together creating larger stable sheets with lower oxygen content.
The oxidized graphene sheets (platelets, flakes, etc.) with very low levels of oxygen and impurities are approaching pristine graphene but will never be perfect.
Which company produces the most graphene in the world?
That is a tough question. It would need to be qualified to get a meaningful answer. Graphene would need to be defined because there are many materials that are referred to as graphene. Do you mean monolayer, bi-layer, few layer or multilayer? Do you mean sheets, film, dots, powder, flake, or other types of graphene? Few companies disclose production or sales.
If it helps our manufacturing capacity for monolayer GO and rGO, powder and flake exceeds 1,000 kg per month. We have not needed that much so far but will probably pass that mark in the next 12–18 months and have a facility in the the planning stage with ten times that capacity. I think that there are several other companies with similar capacities.
Will it ever be possible for graphene to be produced in sufficient quantities to make that product commercially viable?
I believe it is already produced in sufficient quantities to be commercially viable. A little Graphene goes a long way. There are several companies that can produce metric tons of monolayer graphene per month in easily scalable processes that allow for fairly low costs. The material costs are less of an issue currently, the greater costs are application development and customization of graphene to meet specific needs. As we prove the prototypes and go to production each new product will be easier and less expensive to develop and the volume of graphene used will increase and material costs will fall.
Can we make something stronger than graphene?
Graphyne is stronger but not practical because it is not stable.
Why can’t we produce a large amount of graphene?
We can. What is the application? We can tell you type of graphene you need and provide as much of it as you need.
Does the high cost of producing graphene hinder the development of products that utilize this material, or is the more problematic part actually manipulating the graphene to get what one wants?
The cost has already fallen and keeps falling so the cost is not the factor. The biggest challenge is matching the graphene to the application and vice versa. There has been so much research and so much more going on that the answers are starting to fall into place somewhat like a hard drive being defragmented. We can already produce thousands of tons of high quality graphene oxide and rGO at a cost that is less than 25% of what is was 2 years ago and have plans for a new facility that can produce ten times as much at a cost of less than 10% of what it was 2 years ago. Not great news for graphene investors but good for the production and storage of power, coatings and structural improvement, the high volume users.
Could you make a suit out of graphene, and what are the pros and cons?
Before one could answer the question there would need to be some clarification.
Is it a space suit, a scuba suit, a suit of armor, a bio hazard suit, a radioactive shield suit, etc. ?
Who is the world’s largest producer of graphene?
There are several manufacturers that have the ability to produce hundreds and thousands of kilograms monolayer graphene per month. None of them have a demand that matches their productive capacity. I look forward to the day that changes. We currently can deliver more than a 1 thousand Kg per month and are already planning on increasing that capacity soon.
How would I go about getting layers and layers of graphene under a certain layer of my skin to create body armor? Who would I have to talk to, and what type of surgeon would be required? And how much would 300 layers of graphene cost?
As neat as it sounds putting 300 layers of graphene under your skin would probably not work as body armor for several reasons. Separating your skin from your body would most likely cause your almost immediate demise. You wouldn’t need 300 layers unless you needed to protect yourself from 500,000 lbs of pressure or impact. You be better off having an external suit with ventilation that was three layers of graphene thick with layers of other material between them resulting in the ability to withstand in excess of 5,000 lb of pressure per sq mm.
What do you consider to be the most interesting breakthrough or revolutionary idea that has recently come out of your field of expertise?
I may be biased but in my opinion graphene will improve the world in many ways. The use of graphene will provide plentiful low cost clean sustainable energy, plentiful clean drinking water, and lower cost clean transportation and housing. Graphene can raise the standard of living for hundreds of millions of people. Graphene will improve a vast array of products and completely new products will be based on the extraordinary characteristics of graphene and the new design and engineering concepts. Fossil fuel (oil, gas, and coal) will decline in use to a small percentage of its current use, as will nuclear power with the possible exception of fusion if it ever becomes a reality.
Why aren’t we using Graphene as armour?
It will be soon used in protective door panels and undercarriages on vehicles and in body armor. We are involved in tests for these applications currently. There are also new developments that will make graphene even more effective. Recently a new form of graphene was discovered that actually hardens with a high velocity impact. Graphene enhanced armor will most likely be widely commercially available within 18 months.
Is it possible to run out of carbon nanotubes?
It depends on what you mean by “run out of “. Carbon is one of the most plentiful naturally occurring elements so if you can make nanotubes you have a pretty good supply of raw material so it is unlikely that you would run out.
Why is graphene desirable as a touch screen material?
In addition to the transparency and conductivity, an important component is ductility. it is one of the strongest materials known and is flexible and elastic. It is also cost effective since the theoretical amount of graphene for an 84 square centimeter screen is 3.559 millionths of a gram would cost $.0036 assuming a cost of $1,000 per gram. This application of graphene makes sense on many levels.
Tennis: How does the Head Graphene racquet incorporate Graphene in its design?
My understanding is that the Graphene in the Head racquet is at the point where the handle attaches to the basket providing extra strength with lower weight.
Is there any way to make carbon graphene with compressive strength?
Since graphene is a single layer it seems unlikely that the methods for measuring compressive strength would apply. If you used the formulas for determining compressive strength the answer would be infinity, so I guess if you are looking for a material with high compressive strength, go with a 2 dimensional material, it is tough to beat infinity.
Are there any companies that are commercially producing graphene for resale?
There are numerous companies that make graphene. Many of them are nationally subsidized (Graphenea and Directa to name a couple) others are private companies that have received government grants, and there are numerous that are private companies that manufacture and/or distribute various types of graphene. Among the providers of graphene what you want to look for is quality determined by percentage of monolayer, percentage of carbon, flake size, and pore size or pore volume.
Currently most of the quality manufacturers can produce more than the demand so capacity is not a big issue and most production methods are scalable. Our capacity is at 1,000 kg per month and easily could be double or triple that in a few months if needed. We are already inn the process of increasing the volume capacity for specialized forms. Since most producers have surplus capacity price drops are expected in the most common forms until the market stabilizes.
Is there any nontoxic new material which is an alternative to plastic other than glass, ceramic, and stainless steel?
You could add or coat plastic, glass, ceramic or steel with graphene to make them lighter, stronger, more ductile, better at electrical and/or heat conduction depending on the application.
What is the potential of graphene in the production of bionic devices?
Graphene has a huge potential for use in bionic devices. Joseph Guindi is correct in that Graphene’s biocompatability is not proven but there is no evidence to suggest that it is not bio compatible either. Graphene is carbon a common component in all organic life and is most commonly a nanomaterial seemingly too small to have a significant impact on living tissue. But there are reports of graphene having a positive influence on brain activity so if there is a positive impact there may also be a negative impact. If graphene could be used as sensors, as structural components (joints, bones, stents, cartilage, etc) in a way that it is unable to come directly in contact with living tissue or permanently bond in the cases where it does, it may not be a problem or worth the risk.
What I am hoping for is the use of graphene to replace or repair damaged neural pathways. That could be the greatest impact.
Graphene is supposed to reduce the charging time in most electronic devices into minutes instead of hours. How long will that be implemented in real life?
There are already companies claiming prototype super capacitors for consumer and commercial application but nothing being marketed to my knowledge. I would guess that the technology for advanced graphene enhanced super capacitors and photovoltaic cells is 1–2 years away with widespread use 3–4 years out. It is highly likely that we will see supercapacitors and photovoltaic cells in a direct relationship, eliminating the need for a power distribution network for many power needs.
Are graphene and carbon nanotubes the future of computers?
Definitely part of the future. We are currently working with companies looking at using our Graphene to reduce heat, increase electrical throughput, augment or replace silicon, reduce size and weight, and to make the power sources more efficient to name a few areas where Graphene could help make computers better. There other companies looking at making wearable computing and other applications.
What do you think of the graphene batteries, and are they any good and available for bikes in public?
Based on the research I know about personally, I would say you will see real batteries that are graphene enhanced within 18 months. these are not all graphene just portions of the batteries use graphene to improve performance. I am hoping there is other research going on to make batteries that will be completely graphene.
What technology will emerge first: graphene batteries or solid state batteries?
Ideally they would arrive at the same time. The best solid state battery could be a graphene battery and the best graphene battery could be a solid state battery.
What is the per-pound price of top quality graphene?
There are numerous types of Graphene and each type has a top quality. The highest prices are probably in the $1,000 per gram range for the pristine Graphene and for specialized types of Graphene.
High quality Non-Stacked reduced Graphene Oxide (NSrGO) will most likely be the most commonly used Graphene. This Graphene is more than 90% monolayer (less than .6 nanometers thick) and has carbon content exceeding 90% with flake size exceeding 30 x 30 microns. The prices vary depending on specialized or standard. Our current price for the NSrGO ranges from $400 per gram for low volume specialized to $500,000 for 10 kg of standard in single delivery.
We are projecting that our price on the high volume standard NSrGO Graphene will be less than $25 per gram within 2 years for usage exceeding 100 kg/month.
There are new less expensive manufacturing methods that result in smaller flake size of monolayer with 90+ carbon content that will cost less but will not be optimum for any many applications as the larger flake size.
For specific pricing we or most other manufacturers would need to understand the application. I hope this answers your question.
Which company is the cheapest producer of graphene in the world?
The cheapest producer of what type of graphene? There is Aston Martin graphene and Yugo graphene, there is material described as graphene that is actually graphite and a wide range of highly specialized graphene. The almost graphene is the cheapest at about the same price as pencil lead since that is what it really is. There are a number of companies that sell this variety, I believe the least expensive is produced by a company in India.
How much does 1kg of graphene cost?
Graphene comes in many varieties so there is not one answer. Do you have an application in mind? If so, I could tell you the type of the graphene and the cost per kilogram.
The cost per kg for >90% monolayer >90% carbon large flake (NSrGO) ranges from $100,000 -$300,000
Which company is in the lead, concerning mass production of graphene?
I might be biased but I think we (1st Graphene) can deliver as much as any company needs of general GO, rGO, or specialized versions of either at a cost that is viable for many applications.
How effective would a AR500 steel plate be if it was covered in multiple layers of graphene against projectiles?
In response, to other answers. While your enthusiasm is appreciated you might want to look into Graphene a little deeper before making sweeping statements. Of the characteristics of Graphene its flexibility and elasticity are major components to its strength and ductility so it does have shock absorption qualities. Graphene is referred to as a 2 dimensional material not because it is one atom thick but because it can only grow in two axes (2 dimensional growth). Nanotubes are 1 dimensional and fullerenes (buckyballs) are 0 dimensional. Visible or not one layer of Graphene is 100–200 times stronger that the same weight of steel. IMHO Graphene can be added to steel in a number of ways to increase the strength and reduce the weight either as an additive, embedded engineered support, or a coating. While the potential in the use of Graphene in electronics and electrical applications far reaching its initial commercialization is due to its physical characteristics. We are currently in developing a wide range of applications based on its physical properties. IMHO the bulk of the new Graphene products that come out in the next few years will be for structural enhancement.
Could graphene be used as a container for nuclear fusion?
It might, but my concerns would be about graphene’s ability to bond with soft metals like lead and gold. If there was no radiation emitted it should work great because ideally one would be looking for strength and low weight and it does bond well with harder metals and give them greater ductility.
Why isn’t graphene being mass produced and being used in technology?
The previous answers are outdated. It is being used in a very wide range of applications. Graphene is being mass produced and costs of graphene are dropping as more applications go into commercial production. The production capacity far exceeds the current usage and will remain like that for the next few years which will result in significant drops in price as the manufacturers fight for market share.
How might graphene affect consumer technology?
Graphene will have an enormous impact on consumer goods. It will improve a wide range products by enabling them to be lighter, stronger, smaller, more heat and energy efficient, etc.
One more recent additions is the graphene enhanced golf ball from Callaway.
Is it possible if we knew how to create graphene in large amounts could we create a grapnel gun or grappling hook exactly like batmans?
Yes. but probably more akin to line used by Doc Savage which is described as almost invisible but incredibly strong. We are very close to having the technology now. There is a method for producing graphene string using calcium and there are several manufacturers capable of producing high quality monolayer graphene in quantities that exceed the current demand. Graphene cost is falling as a result of the huge supply and light demand.
Couldn’t graphene be charged nearly instantly like in Star Wars’ lightsaber and the handle like a graphene battery?
a graphene supercapacitor could charge very quickly compared to normal rechargeable batteries and it would weigh less and take up less space.
Could you build a Mars habitat out of graphene mixed with glass?
Yes, you could. Graphene could be used for more than enhancing the glass. it could be used for making the structure stronger and lighter. It could used to make more efficient photo voltaic and battery systems, to name a few.
Can Tesla replace lithium cell with graphene in the future?
IMHO Tesla will replace current battery system with graphene enhanced systems as graphene technology advances and reliable batteries and charging systems are developed both in their vehicles and their power walls. A few years ago I wrote up a summary of all the parts of a car that could be made better using graphene. In short, in addition to the power system every part of a vehicle can benefit from greater strength with less weight.