Where is graphene today?

Mariam Jomha presents a 2020 look at the graphene space

Graphene, dubbed as a “wonder” material, has attracted a lot of attention ever since it was first isolated from bulk graphite in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, of the University of Manchester. They were both awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of a method to produce near-monolayers of graphene, today known as the cellophane-tape or mechanical exfoliation. 

And the graphene gold rush begins...

With this discovery, the graphene gold rush began and various industries were quick to explore the applications of graphene, attempting to exploit the unique combination of properties it had to offer. As the thinnest, lightest and strongest known compound, graphene was extremely flexible, impermeable, transparent, as well as thermally and electrically conductive. 

Despite such versatility, scaling up graphene production was a costly and labour-intensive process. Research efforts have focused on mass producing graphene of high quality and lower cost. A number of companies have been successful in overcoming the main caveats of commercialising graphene and graphene-based products.

What’s the status of graphene today?

A 2015 PreScouter report examined the graphene space and noted most companies producing graphene were small, privately-owned companies. Fast forwarding half a decade later, a lot has changed and the graphene market is booming, expected to pass US$1billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 38.7%. The current status of graphene production was the focus of a new 2020 PreScouter report, which identified 18 companies that produce or are very close to commercially producing graphene and graphene-based products.  

The report notes that 50% of companies currently provide graphene-added products such as composites, inks and cement additives to name a few and nearly 80% provide graphene in the powder form. Canada, Australia and the UK is where most are located. A few of these companies have already been successful in incorporating their graphene successfully into a commercially available product.

Dr. Karolis Vilcinskas, polymer expert and co-author of the report notes that “Some of the companies we profiled, most notably Applied Graphene Materials, First Graphene, and XG Sciences, have successfully embedded graphene into commercially available products ranging from sportsgear to coatings that greatly benefit the consumer.”

Tomorrow’s disruptor?

Dr. Marija Jovic, co-author of the report and Technical Director of PreScouter’s Materials and Chemicals practice sees that, "Although graphene production didn't scale-up as fast as expected five years ago, graphene still represents a breakthrough material that will undoubtedly find more and more commercial applications in years to come, therefore should be monitored closely for its capability to disrupt the market.”  

Undoubtedly, as graphene production capacity increases, a wider range of functional graphene-enhanced products will become available to both businesses and ordinary consumers, concludes Dr. Vilcinskas.

Mariam Jomha is with PreScouter