Imagine Intelligent Materials Pty Limited (Imagine IM) is set to build Australia’s first commercial graphene manufacturing plant. This is significant for the quickly emerging field of graphene-enhanced materials, and those materials include geosynthetics.
Graphene offers high electrical and thermal conductivity, hydrophobicity, strength, and impermeability to all gases. Layers of graphene could give materials strength exceeding steel, enable self-repairing qualities, and impart an electrical conductivity greater than copper. In geosynthetics, this may create nanocomposite materials with superior anti-clogging properties in geotextiles, heightened leak location ability in lining systems, a wider range of conductive materials, and much more.
Imagine IM is the first company in the world to develop conductive geomaterials using functionalized graphene. It will announce its first products for the geosynthetics industry at GeoAmericas 2016.
The output capacity being designed into the plant pilot project is 10 tonnes per year. The company foresees an initial utilization of 2 tonnes in the Australian market alone, an achievement that would push the operation to a commercial scale at which more opportunities would open.
This has been a sought-after moment for end product manufacturers interested in graphene. To date, researcher interest has largely driven the sector, with many watching and waiting for competitive commercial production to occur.
Market studies have pegged the global demand for graphene at $100 million by 2018 and $1.3 billion by 2023. RFIDs, composite materials, sensors, and related products are some of the many materials that will utilize it early on.
“Graphene is now being viewed as a strategic resource in most of the industrial economies of the world,” said Chris Gilbey, CEO of Imagine IM. “Our focus is on developing solutions for large-scale manufacturers that will integrate into their supply chains with relative ease and without requiring our customers to need to invest in new capex.”
The Sydney-based company has contracted with Austeng, a Geelong-based engineering firm, to build the new plant. Austeng has a strong history in developing plants that scale up research into commercial markets.
“[This project] will lay the foundation for our expansion, both domestically and internationally,” said Phil Aitchison, COO and head of R&D at Imagine IM. “We anticipate a need for well over 100 tonnes of graphene per year within the next four years.”
Learn more at www.imgne.com.
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