GrapheneCA Head of Business Development David Robles joined the Investing News Network to discuss the various uses of graphene.
According to Robles, the company’s GaaS model fulfills a knowledge gap in the graphene industry when it comes to introducing graphene to new customers. The model provides end users with the knowledge necessary to integrate graphene into their businesses and products without specialized technicians.
When paired with GrapheneCA’s mobile graphene container system (MGCS), the model lets end users circumvent supply chain issues and deliver products on time. MGCS is a portable and high-yield graphene production unit that produces in-house and localized graphene.
The MGCS also offers industries a clean way to produce graphene. According to Robles, the system uses approximately 1,500 kilovolts per hour to create a graphene product, which is significant when compared to processes that use over 10,000 kilovolts per hour. The system also doesn’t use many of the harsh and toxic chemicals that some of the company’s competitors do, making it easier to scale the technology.
Graphene has many industrial and high-tech uses. As part of the company’s humanitarian focus, GrapheneCA is looking into developing solutions for the biomedical and construction industries, as well as applications for smart cities. Robles believes that graphene has the potential to address immediate and future crisis issues, such as capturing oil in river and ocean spills and treating contaminated water.
Below is a transcript of our interview with GrapheneCA Head of Business Development David Robles. It has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Investing News Network: Graphene has a number of industrial use cases. How large do you see the GaaS industry becoming?
GrapheneCA Head of Business Development David Robles: Different industries have different needs when they’re implementing graphene. From what we’ve seen, customers won’t integrate graphene into their business unless they’re already in the graphene business. For example, we use single-wall carbon nanotubes (a different form of graphene) because we know how to use it. We are, however, a rare example as we typically don’t have customers who know how to integrate graphene into their products on their own.
With the way the industry is currently positioned, you have grafting manufacturers, like ourselves, who have a product and approach other companies with an opportunity to try the product out. Company X tries to drive out the product, and it doesn’t work. Typical graphene companies will say, “Okay, that’s great. You need to figure this out.” Company X then has to hire the consultants needed to make it work for them.
GaaS is an end-to-end solution where we not only provide graphene to our customers, but also help them implement it into their production. We also offer R&D assistance. Without having to hire specialty help, our clients can access the graphene platform and apply the technology directly into their new materials. With maybe the exception of power storage, the specialty people in the industry have a better idea of how to use carbon materials.
Other than the power storage industry, we think that every carbon graphite-facing industry is going to need an end-to-end service model to commercialize its products. It’s a unique place for us, as we have a research and development facility in the technology house where we produce graphene. It’s natural for us to provide a fast-style model for graphene. Users can work on integrating graphene into their products and buying the material needed without having to become a different company. We’re helping all of our companies and partners access the technology while doing what they’re best at. This is where we see a lot of our competition stumbling.
INN: Can you tell us more about the MGCS and how it works?
DR: The MGCS is a scaled version of what we’re using in our Brooklyn facility. Our focus from the beginning was to ensure that we could fit our reactors into containers. Our first generation reactor had a footprint that allowed us to be container-based. Today, our container includes a reactor, control power unit and various sensors inside the container for both physical and quality control as well as data capture. On the outside, we have ports that accept graphite, water and power that outlet into holding tanks as well as other production areas. Most of the time we’re producing a water-based solution that doesn’t necessarily need to be processed further and is plugged immediately into an end use.
Our clients don’t touch any of this and don’t have any new staff that joins their team. We sign offtake agreements, as we do not lease or sell the equipment. We maintain ownership but provide our clients with the graphene product, creating a much more efficient scenario where we’re shipping a product that’s either 95 percent air or 70 plus percent water. However, a lot of efficiency is lost in shipping, and it also deteriorates the product. Having a fresh product where you’re able to control these things matters. From this perspective, we’ve only been talking about the industrial side of the mobile units, but there’s a high-tech side as well.
All of these power solutions and highly conductive materials need to be monitored with new sensors. Our container-based system gives us a small form factor to work on various projects. For example, if we want to use a custom-built clean room for a client, our container-based system can provide the platforms needed to ensure that the new rooms are not contaminated and without them costing a lot of money.
Our goal is to help our clients integrate graphene into their end products without them having to hire people who know how to use graphene. It’s a major missing piece to the puzzle. For example, shipping liquids and liquid products between countries can result in significant delays when going through customs. Doing the production in house or locally could potentially avoid the conflicts at customs. As we know, manufacturing is built on just-in-time principles. If you expect your shipment to come in every month and it’s held up for six weeks, that’s a major supply chain risk. We’ve been able to overcome that hurdle and further our GaaS ambition.
INN: How does GrapheneCA’s technology enable the sustainable creation of graphene?
DR: Our technology allows for the sustainable creation of graphene because we don’t use heavy industrial and high-toxic chemicals as part of our process. Not that there’s a shortage of these chemicals, but there’s no shortage of graphite as a mineral resource on Earth. In fact, it’s almost as abundant as water. When we don’t have any of these toxic concerns to deal with, we don’t have to worry about reprocessing the chemicals or properly disposing of them. Our closed-loop and chemical-free system allows us to use regional resources and labor.
Graphite is considered to be a renewable resource because of its tendency to agglomerate, and there are ways to create synthetic graphite. We also don’t have heavy energy usage when compared to other industries. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to create graphene; however, there are examples of technology to industrially shear single layers of graphene using over 10,000 kilovolts per hour. We use approximately 1,500 kilovolts per hour.
We’ve recently headed towards automation. For the automated creation of graphene, we use only two inputs of water and natural graphite. We’re having tremendous success with this method from an industrial and commercial perspective as it’s more renewable. We don’t need to have full-scale industrial facilities that deal with the processing of toxic chemicals. We don’t have to worry about keeping the environment safe as its a more renewable, clean and green process to manufacture graphene. We’re already one of the cost and yield leaders in the world and possibly the cost leader for graphene production at an industrial level.
INN: How does GrapheneCA maintain its humanitarian focus?
DR: From the beginning, we’ve looked at graphene as a way to have a successful business and do some good. As a material, graphene holds the potential to address immediate and future crisis issues, such as desalinating water in a single stage or ultra-water filtration for places like Flint, Michigan. It could also help capture oil in river and ocean spills as well as treat contaminated water coming from paper mills and fabric dye production.
This was our focus in the first year, but we always take a focused look at need-based issues. For example, in the building industry, we’re looking for ways to build safer, cheaper and stronger structures at scale, such as what we’re doing with Apis Cor. We’re also looking at how we can integrate graphene sensors into smart cities to help municipalities decide what type of data they’d like to collect. This can be cheaply integrated throughout smart cities.
Then we start getting into our biomedical applications. We see the potential for graphene in everything from EEGs and brain readings to diabetes. We’re even looking into how we can deliver medicine with smart control devices and advanced biometric sensors as well as increase the data medical healthcare professionals have to advance treatment options.
Almost every project that we’re looking at has a humanitarian aspect to it. Based on our costs of production, we think that it’s a wonderful opportunity to do good business and advance our humanitarian ambitions at the same time. It’s one of those things where you wonder what would have happened with steel or plastic if it had the same potential that graphene does in today’s world.
This interview is sponsored by GrapheneCA. This interview provides information which was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by GrapheneCA in order to help investors learn more about the company. GrapheneCA is a client of INN. The company’s campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this interview.
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