The event set was billed as the Cambridge Graphene Technology Days 2015 (with a hashtag of #CGD15), with no fewer than six events taking place. The first day saw second CIR Graphene & GRMs masterclass, which was attended by 30 senior corporate executives at the West Cambridge Site, while in parallel a graphene technology showcase day ran, with internal CGC partner meetings held by the Cambridge Graphene Centre.
Within this showcase the CGC partners’ technologies and CIR exhibitors were arrayed together for a very exciting press event with the director of CGC on stage with the University of Cambridge Vice Chancellor Professor Leszek Borysiewicz FRS and the head of Engineering.
In the evening there was a dinner at Madingley Hall led by CGC for invited partners and for those who had attended the 2nd CIR Graphene Masterclass and were arriving to attend 3rd CIR Business Conference the following day. 80 delegates attended the dinner, around half each from CGC and CIR.
The third CIR Graphene Business Conference for 100 businesspeople was held on the second day. This followed an inaugural series of events, including the CIR Graphene business conference (which was also held in Cambridge, in November 2013), and other CIR Graphene events in May 2014 and February 2015. An excellent audience of delegates enjoyed entertaining presentations on stage, as well as four panel question-and-answer sessions, and networking opportunities at the exhibition space, where around 40 companies were on show.
There were 20 talks throughout the day, from academics, dignitaries, large MNC business leaders in space, defence, oil and gas and steel, and scale-up materials solutions providers like Haydale and FlexEnable, and later interesting talks from venture capitalists, economists and intellectual property firms. Speakers were highly praised in feedback surveys of attending delegates by CIR.
2nd CIR Graphene Masterclass
During the masterclass, the application projects of large firms and scale-ups were discussed among 30 graphene senior corporate executives with CIR Leader Nick Coutts and colleagues in the context of value network analysis and ‘Routes to Value’. This latter is a rigorous strategic method being used by large companies to ensure that projects are within a process that connects them explicitly with the objective and values of the business (including culture) as constraints. This pioneering method that could help with scale-up gaps, enable large companies to bring in graphene material enhancements and services to add enormous value to the development of application markets.
Dr Justin Hayward, Director of CIR, said: “I am delighted that Cambridge Investment Research was able to organise complementary events within the Cambridge Graphene Tech Days 2015 event-set alongside the Cambridge Graphene Centre at this special time for the centre and for graphene, in particular, providing a highly business-focused aspect.”
Sessions at 3rd CIR Graphene Business Conference
In the first session on 6 November, the director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre argued that graphene is the future of communication and will become better than silicon by 2024. The vision here is to integrate modulators and photo-detector with graphene. A transceiver prototype with graphene will solve the problem of heat that is insoluble to Moore’s Law for data storage and transmissions with current materials.
Following this, the Rt Hon the Lord Alec Broers asked whether graphene is the biggest achievement of the 21st century – comparing it with other areas on the USA’s ‘Grand Challenges’ list, including: solar technology; fusion energy; carbon sequestration; solve nitrogen cycle (whereby the pollution issue here is seen by many as more tangible and urgent than global warming issues); clean water; restoring urban infrastructure; engineering better medicine; enhancing virtual reality (flexible and wearable electronics); preventing nuclear catastrophes; secure cyber space; personalised learning; and revere engineering the human brain.
The next presentation, by IfM’s Professor William O’Neill focused on ‘manufacturing landscape and drive for impact’, in which he argued that there is a manufacturing economy in the UK, and, moreover, that UK manufacturing is high value manufacturing.
O’Neill also revealed that 85% of R&D finance in the UK comes from manufacturing companies, but that there is a missing connection between lab R&D and alpha level production technologies with large scale manufacturing. Furthermore, he added, while the UK government invests a lot in R&D, thereby creating great research, “this is just an expense, and we need to add value by delivering technologies through companies.”
The Keynote speech by Haydale’s CEO, Ray Gibbs, argued that the current market analysis on graphene is wrong and is very hard to predict. He also discussed the significant market for composites, as well as the large markets for Graphene materials, but these, he said, are mostly conservative and highly regulated. He therefore underlined the need to instead to look (at least initially) to the currently unregulated markets: boats, wind energy, pipes, and rails.
For Ray Gibbs, the industrial challenge lies in proving production is repeatable, consistent and cost effective, and he called for immediate and better standardisation so as to create “consistent quality and value; and a price good for stakeholders.”
The next Keynote speech, delivered by focused on issues in the aerospace and defence sectors, with the lifecycle costs being highlighted as a particular area for consideration, as well as areas such as fuel consumption, graphene’s anisotropy, (channelling heat, heat dissipation & spreading), graphene’s use in a fusion power cell which could be a solution for completely silent electric airplanes, as well as an underlining of the importance of reliability and safety and certification.
This presentation posited the following as the main issues and R&D directions for aeroplanes: propellers in rotors, energy storage, structures, shielding (objects, RPG, radars, lighting, etc.), optics (lasers, receivers, lenses, and mirrors), displays (wearable electronics, flexible electronics), and ice prevention and de-icing.
Concerning satellites, the main issues and R&D directions were revealed to be: solar arrays (there is a lot of solar radiations to harness; PV cover glass could be made thinner and lighter using graphene), multilayer insulation (thermal shield), structures, antenna and mechanisms (higher conductivity needs), shielding, and optics (laser communications).
During the second session, speakers from a large global industrialist firm delivered a further keynote on graphene applications on steel for energy storage, an important area due to the fact that corrosion is a significant problem for steel, a material which can enable a large-scale implementation of energy storage tech.
The speakers outlined the applications of steel in energy storage thus: building integrated PVs (functioning coatings on steel for buildings, which are active, capture and then store thermal energy in phase material); batteries (electroplated steel cans, electrodes and casing); fuel cells (usually gold plated stainless steel bipolar plates but should be made cheaper, possibly with graphene); and supercapacitors (mostly aluminium and copper but steel for casing).
They then turned their attention to the performance improvement required for steel: good, electrical conductivity; electrochemical stability (corrosion prevention); thermal conductivity (high power devices); and formability and strength – tribology.
Regarding the replacement of gold for coating in LC steel, it was argued that the industrial challenges include scaling up – e.g. pilot line roll to roll to large scale, scale graphene coatings to cover that in which the steel industry operates, which is enormous; and the ability to coat millions of square metres with tonnes of the material with speeds of up to 100m/min – this, they said, would save billions by fighting corrosion
The presentation by Nanocarbon asked why it is better to do Graphene transfer in the lab instead of involving third parties, and posited the following reasons: it is safer (there is no need to share details of applications), it is faster (full control), it is cleaner (full control, no carriers issues), it is cheaper, and you learn and optimise.
Cambridge Nanosystem’s presentation explored the transformation of methane into graphene powder, as well as atmospheric plasma to break difficult and stable molecules like methane, CO2 and other carbon-based molecules. Hydrogen is produced as a byproduct of this process undertaken to create graphene powder, explained Dr Krysztof Koziol, which also has uses.
The third session included a speech by Novalia’s Dr Kate Stone, who discussed adding interactivity to print and how paper with interactive surfaces could revolutionise the digital world, while OCSiAl’s Will Riches discussed an industrial scale facility for single wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), focusing in on touch screens, paint and coatings, lithium battery, and polymer composites.
Dr Gun-Soo Kim from Standard Graphene (which emerged from Samsung), then spoke about how graphene flakes stand to lead the market, before a keynote speech by FlexEnable’s Dr Paul Cain discussed ‘bringing any surface to life’ – from those which are wearable to those found in the automotive sector.
The fourth session included a focus on the intellectual property landscape with regard to graphene by Marks & Clerk’s Mash-Hud Iqbal, who described patent families globally by geography and sector and over time to 2014. Later, BP’s Sheetal Handa delivered a keynote address on the challenges in the oil and gas industry, focusing on sub-sea extraction and the various materials needed, as well as oil pipe transportation and problems with the various materials (sand, oil, water, condensation, and welding) that are in the pipes (i.e. surface interactions), and the idea that applications for 2D materials will mostly be in corrosion resistance, surface treatments, deposits and fouling, self-repairing systems, and separations.
Indeed, according to Handa, nanomaterials in (titanium based) lubricant oil result in 40% less friction, and because the pipelines used are extremely long (thousands of kilometres), are located in remote, hot/cold conditions, have several phases of material pass in great volumes, and produce large amounts of unwanted material and erosion etc., less friction is a necessity.
Handa revealed that, for BP, 2D materials have numerous positive uses, including: corrosion resistance, surface treatment, deposits & fouling, self-indicate damage, and against bio films formations in pipes, low wear friction, and offshore pipe work.
Handa concluded that BP is now working to develop sensing technologies to help solve the mystery of why composites fail in order to facilitate a wider roll-out of these materials.
The event was thus a success, with a wide variety of stakeholders coming together to share their views on both the uses and limitations (and only by highlighting these can we hope to overcome them) with regard to graphene and other 2D materials.
For more information about the next conference and executive briefing with master class in this programme please see: www.hvm-uk.com. Delegates who have attended earlier graphene festival events are offered discounts.