Northern Graphite, a graphite flake mining company in Ontario, has just signed an agreement with Grafen Chemical Industries (based in Turkey). From the Feb. 4, 2012 news item,
Northern Graphite Corporation has announced that it has agreed to supply its +48 mesh and +32 mesh extra large flake graphite to Grafen Chemical Industries [GCI] for graphene research and has also agreed to enter into a cooperation agreement to develop intellectual property rights. Northern will retain a 50% interest in the North American patent rights to any products and processes developed by Grafen. [emphases mine]
I wonder if this is a new trend or simply indicative of my ignorance but this is the first time I heard of a mining company negotiating for intellectual property rights as part of a deal.
At any rate, I last wrote about Northern Graphite July 25, 2011 when the company announced that a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Sciences had successfully made graphene with the ‘extra-large’ graphite flakes that have been found in Ontario.
Here’s what makes these Ontario graphite flakes so interesting (from my July 25, 2011 posting),
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.
As for Grafen’s use of the flakes,
Grafen has developed a novel fabrication method allowing it to synthesize graphene of excellent quality and with considerable yield. Its graphene production process is a highly modified implementation of the conventional graphite oxide manufacturing technique and eliminates known major drawbacks such as extreme disruption of crystal structure of precursor graphite causing low product qualities of electrical conductivity, mechanical performance etc.
Grafen is testing its process at the lab/pilot plant scale level and is optimizing and improving the process by employing different raw materials and formulations. Grafen recognizes that Northern’s +32 and +48 mesh large flake, high carbon graphite will be an excellent choice for large area graphene preparation and intends to adapt them to its process. In a near future Grafen plans to scale-up its graphene production process to provide products to the research industry that will eventually lead to commercial scale production.
The news item provides some insight into the worldwide chase to develop graphene and why graphite is so important,
Graphite is one of only two naturally occurring forms of carbon, the other being diamonds. A graphite flake is much like a deck of cards, it consists of many thin layers stacked one on top of the other with weak bonds holding them together. Delaminating these layers to the lowest common denominator results in a one atom thick sheet of carbon with the carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern. This is graphene.
Graphene was first isolated by scientists at the University of Manchester who won the Noble Prize for Physics in 2010 for their efforts. Graphene is transparent in infra-red and visible light, flexible, and stronger than steel. It conducts heat 10 times faster than copper and can carry 1,000 times the density of electrical current of copper wire. Graphene is expected to be a revolutionary material that could change the technology of semi conductors and LCD touch screens and monitors, create super small transistors and super dense data storage, increase energy storage and solar cell efficiency, and will transform many other applications.
According to a professor at Georgia Tech University, there are nearly 200 companies, including Intel and IBM, currently involved in graphene research. In 2010 graphene was the subject of approximately 3,000 research papers and the European Union and South Korea have each recently started $1.5 billion efforts to build industrial scale, next generation display materials using graphene as a substitute for indium tin oxide(“ITO”). The world has only 5-10 years of ITO reserves remaining and prices exceed US$700,000 per tonne.