Canadians as hewers of graphite?

Who knew large flakes could be this exciting? From the July 25, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

Northern Graphite Corporation has announced that graphene has been successfully made on a test basis using large flake graphite from the Company’s Bissett Creek project in Northern Ontario. Northern’s standard 95%C, large flake graphite was evaluated as a source material for making graphene by an eminent professor in the field at the Chinese Academy of Sciences who is doing research making graphene sheets larger than 30cm2 in size using the graphene oxide methodology. The tests indicated that graphene made from Northern’s jumbo flake is superior to Chinese powder and large flake graphite in terms of size, higher electrical conductivity, lower resistance and greater transparency.

Approximately 70% of production from the Bissett Creek property will be large flake (+80 mesh) and almost all of this will in fact be +48 mesh jumbo flake which is expected to attract premium pricing and be a better source material for the potential manufacture of graphene. The very high percentage of large flakes makes Bissett Creek unique compared to most graphite deposits worldwide which produce a blend of large, medium and small flakes, as well as a large percentage of low value -150 mesh flake and amorphous powder which are not suitable for graphene, Li ion batteries or other high end, high growth applications.

For anyone who’s not familiar with the excitement over graphene and its possibilities, here’s the latest from the two scientists who pioneered work in this area (from the July 24, 2011 news item on Nanowerk),

Now the research from the creators [Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov] of the material promises to accelerate that research, and potentially open up countless more electronic opportunities.

The researchers, from the universities of Manchester, Madrid and Moscow, have studied in detail the effect of interactions between electrons on the electronic properties of graphene.

They use extremely high-quality graphene devices which are prepared by suspending sheets of graphene in a vacuum.

This way most of the unwanted scattering mechanisms for electrons in graphene could be eliminated, thus enhancing the effect of electron-on-electron interaction.

This is the first effect of its kind where the interactions between electrons in graphene could be clearly seen.

The reason for such unique electronic properties is that electrons in this material are very different from those in any other metals. They mimic massless relativistic particles – such as photons.

Due to such properties graphene is sometimes called ‘CERN on a desk’ – referencing the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. This is just one of the reasons why the electronic properties are particularly exciting and often bring surprises.

Northern Graphite’s home page features a bullish few paragraphs about its prospects (excerpted from the home page),

Northern Graphite Corporation is an Ottawa-based Canadian company that recently closed a $4 million initial public offering and began trading on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol “NGC”.

Northern’s principal asset is the Bissett Creek graphite project located 100km east of North Bay, Ontario and close to major roads and rail and power lines. The Company has completed an NI 43-101 preliminary assessment report on the project and has subsequently initiated a bankable final feasibility study and commenced the environmental and mine permitting process.  Northern anticipates that it will be in a position to begin construction of the mine early in 2012, subject to positive results from the bankable final feasibility study and the availability of financing.

Graphite prices have almost tripled since 2005 due to the ongoing industrialization of China, India and other emerging economies and resultant strong demand from traditional steel and automotive markets. However, new applications such as lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells and nuclear power have the potential to create significant, incremental demand growth in the future. For example, there is 20 to 30 times more graphite than lithium in lithium-ion batteries. The use of li-ion batteries is growing rapidly in consumer electronics and this trend will continue with the increased use of hybrid and all electric vehicles.

On the plus side, this looks like there might be more jobs. As is often the case in Canada, these jobs are about extracting resources (the hewers of wood, drawers of water economy).

I did find a reference to the environment on pp. 101-2 of a technical report mainly focused on an economic assessment of the Bissett Creek property. The section on the environment concentrates on the location of a waste dump and railings. Hopefully, the geologists and engineers who run the company will have more information about environmental impacts in the not too distant future since they (from the July 25, 2011 news item on Nanowerk) are getting ready to construct facilities,

Northern Graphite Corporation holds a 100% interest in the Bissett Creek graphite project which is located 17kms from the Trans Canada highway between Ottawa and North Bay, Ontario. The Company is in the process of completing a bankable Final Feasibility Study and permitting with the objective of initiating construction, subject to the results of the study and the availability of financing, in the first part of 2012.

I gather they are looking for investors.

 

2 thoughts on “Canadians as hewers of graphite?

  1. Pingback: Canada’s contribution to graphene research: big graphite flakes « FrogHeart

  2. Pingback: Hydro-Québec, graphite, and lithium-ion batteries « FrogHeart

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