Held midway through September in Berkeley, California, the Graphene World Summit 2014 was billed as a venue for technical collaboration, scientific exchange and the exploration of value and job creation via the development and commercialization of graphene.
To learn what highlights and themes came out of that ambitious agenda, Graphite Investing News (GIN) got in touch with Dr. Gordon Chiu, president, chief technology officer, director and founding partner at Grafoid, a graphene research, development and investment company. He attended the conference and had many positive things to say about the experience.
Highlights and themes
Dr. Chiu started off by explaining that for him the highlight of the conference was “once again getting together and working with so many different interested parties on the opportunities involving graphene.”
Also significant, he noted, was the fact that the gathering was held in North America. “People have done this before in North America, but in a different type of setting and [with] a different type of focus,” he noted
That said, the summit wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Dr. Chiu emphasized that a key theme he encountered was that “individuals keep trying to sell the idea of manufacturing and then making graphene using the Hummers method, which is inferior” in that it’s a “very risky procedure [that is] not truly scalable.”
Continuing, he said that trend is also negative because the Hummers method essentially uses brute force to make graphene. It’s also “very costly” and requires companies to raise a lot of money to maintain it. “It’s concerning,” he said, adding, “that was more or less an orange alert to the field.”
Response to Grafoid
The fact that Grafoid is going against the grain and not using the Hummers method didn’t go unnoticed. Dr. Chiu said that the company “was cited in a very positive way by many individuals as the only company pursuing a different avenue of growth.”
“Rather than forcing a manufacturing method that has such high costs … we have invested in the Braille Battery acquisition and we’ve invested in various universities,” he noted. Attendees “basically saw an indication that Grafoid is differentiating itself more on the business front through savvy investments. So they were very positive on Grafoid.”
Future Grafoid developments
The summit also offered a venue for Grafoid to discuss its upcoming plans. As Dr. Chiu told GIN, they mainly include “incubating” the projects the company has already set in motion.
Those include the Surfacene spin off at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. It’s looking at manufacturing a high-surface-area graphene material called spongeycarbon, which is trademarked in over 55 countries. The university has found that spongeycarbon “can absorb oil extremely well” and thus “can be used for water clean up, environmental clean up or oil extraction.” It also has applications in wearable electronics.
Grafoid is also involved in the plastics space via a joint venture with Rutgers University. It’s focused on Grafspire, which “is for aerospace applications,” and Grafmid, “a nylon graphene composite material” with applications in automobiles.
The most recent Grafmid development, according to Dr. Chiu, is that the partnership has been able to achieve a “remarkable difference” from the nylon starting material to the end product. Elaborating, he commented, “the end product is 250 times stronger than the starting material,” and “the latest breakthrough is that we have been able to get to 400 times the original strength of the material.” Emphasizing just how impressive that news is, Dr. Chiu said he has been selected to do a TED Talk on the topic next month.
Finally, Graphite Zero, Grafoid’s partner at the National University of Singapore, is working on the company’s MesoGraf graphene.
Based on Dr. Chiu’s comments, it’s clear that the Graphene World Summit was a great opportunity for attendees to learn more about what’s going on in the graphene space — and of course, what future developments may be in store.
It’s also clear that Grafoid is a company to watch in the space, especially heading into this fall. Those interested would thus do well to stay tuned.
Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Grafoid is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.