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Despite being 200 times stronger than steel, graphene is ultra-thin so it retains its flexibility and transparency. Graphene is the basic structure of graphite, charcoal, carbon nanotubes, and fullerenes. It’s tough and lightweight because it is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Graphene is also an excellent conductor.
Graphene coatings can be applied in aviation and naval vehicles to prevent icing, fog surfaces, and sticky surfaces. It can also be used in flexible LED surfaces, chemical sensors, stealth technologies and 3D print circuits. Its resistance makes graphene uniquely well suited for use as fire, UV and corrosion protection.
Additionally, it can also be used for bioimaging and medical purposes. A group of researchers from Monash University found that a sheet of graphene oxide can deliver drugs in the form of graphene droplets and be released when the targeted tissue is exposed to a magnetic field. This study has the potential to revolutionize the medical industry if the studies bear fruit.
The most well-known use of graphene is in lithium-ion batteries, which power everything from electric vehicles to laptops and mobile devices. Batteries are an increasingly important aspect of the renewable energy sector. The biggest problem facing this emerging sector is energy storage. This is similar to the problem faced by electric vehicles.
While Li-ion batteries usually power laptops and mobile phones, Tesla and other electric vehicle companies are studying how to fully harness the capability of Li-ion batteries to power electric cars. One solution is a supercapacitor made from two layers of graphene with an electrolyte layer in the middle. Researchers from Rice University and the Queensland University of Technology believe this could replace the need for traditional batteries in electric vehicles.
Research into improved batteries is an increasingly important part of the global economy and Benchmark Mineral Intelligence predicts that the market could expand by as much as 400,000 tpa without restrictions.
The Li-ion batteries require graphite in production as anode material and the extraction of graphene will become increasingly important over the coming years. The market for lithium-ion batteries alone is expected to hit $3.7 billion in the next few years while the anode material sector is expected to reach $4.6 billion.
Graphene’s various applications have created a surge in demand for the material and the U.S. is already poised to be the biggest consumer of graphene derivatives and anode materials. The challenge is now to find innovative ways to extract graphene products more efficiently while maintaining lower costs and reducing the environmental impact of extraction and processing.
One of the companies best placed to meet this challenge is Elcora, a graphite and graphene company based in Canada, with an international footprint. Elcora has the potential to use its cutting-edge extraction techniques and high-quality mines to become a global industry leader in providing high-quality graphene at remarkably low costs.
Founded in 2011, Elcora targets high-end industries which include Li-ion batteries and graphene research and development. Elcora has already established itself as an industry leading graphite mining and processing company.
Elcora’s high-quality mines give it a unique edge
Elcora controls its own graphite mine in Sri Lanka. Graphite and graphene from Sri Lanka are considered the best in the world. The Centre for Advanced 2D Materials (CA2DM) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has been testing graphene samples all over the world since 2010. CA2DM certifies that Elcora’s graphene is a cut above the rest in terms of content, average number of layers and consistency in size.
Elcora also owns a Sakura JV mine giving Elcora access to over 1 million tons of high-grade graphite. The unique quality of Elcora’s mines helps to reduce the environmental impact of the refining process and makes the production of Li-ion batteries far more sustainable in the long run.
The mines in Asia provide Elcora with opportunities for further exploration. The thyssenkrupp Metallurgical Products has signed a deal with Elcora and under the agreement, the former will be the official distributor of high purity graphite in the EU, Russia, Turkey, USA, and Canada for 10 years. The Thyssenkrupp group has the capacity to employ grinding and flotation processes to ensure that only top quality graphene products are extracted. The derivatives, once ready, are shipped to partner companies in the United States for refining and spheronization.
Elcora also has a number of mines in key locations around the world. This allows the company to minimize the risks posed by supply chain production and ensure that the graphite keeps flowing. Collaboration with industry leaders over advanced technologies incorporating graphene derivatives gives Elcora a further advantage over less well-connected competitors.
Elcora has the capacity to complete the entire production process, from graphene extraction to advanced Li-ion R&D, in-house. This allows them to avoid a potential disruption caused by external suppliers and helps them to keep costs down by efficiently directing their own supply chain.
Aside from collaborating with industry leaders using advanced technologies, the company’s anode graphite powder has received approval from more than 10 battery manufacturers. This will be crucial for Elcora’s success because demand is expected to increase in the next future.
Elcora takes pride in ensuring that they go above and beyond by ensuring their activities do not adversely impact the environment. The company does not use chemicals and acids in its refining process which helps to protect the environment and its employees.