Graphene is usually obtained industrially by expanding and separating graphite layers using combined thermal and chemical methods. These methods are typically energy-intensive, low yield and use large amounts of solvent. Attempts to produce and disperse graphene in situ (in the polymer) focus on viscous thermoplastic systems but little attention is being paid to low viscosity epoxy resins, despite a need to improve their properties and a world market of £9.8bn in 2013.
NanoSynth aims to develop a top-down process for large-scale production of graphene-reinforced epoxy resins via the exfoliation of graphite, using novel equipment and techniques to maximise process efficiency and minimise overall energy consumption. This will also have a significant effect in a wide range of markets where improvements are needed in strength, stiffness, toughness, electrical conductivity and thermal performance of epoxies.
NanoSynth activity focuses on development of novel mixing concept using combinations of mechanical and non-contact methods to exfoliate graphite and disperse the resulting graphene directly into resin with consideration given to safety assurances throughout the project.
Funding: £0.5M funded by Innovate UK
Duration: 2013 - 2016 (3 years)
Partners: Nanoforce, B/E Aerospace, Bombardier, NetComposites Ltd, Primary Dispersions Ltd, The Institute of Occupational Medicine
Project link: www.nanosynthproject.org.uk