In addition to its anticorrosion properties and its thermal conductivity, graphene is highly fracture-resistant. Carbon Waters is using this knowledge to develop a liquid-graphene-based additive to enhance the mechanical properties of several materials and composites. The result will offer a major advantage for cutting-edge industries like aeronautics and space.
Two hundred times more resistant than steel, a million times thinner than a single hair, harder than diamond, and more conductive than copper, graphene never ceases to amaze us with its incredible properties. This supernanomaterial made of a single layer of carbon atoms possesses astonishing anticorrosion properties and enormous mechanical resistance. Why? Very simply, it’s because the atoms within this thin sheet of carbon form a minuscule layer measuring about 0.335 nm. That’s what gives it remarkable mechanical resistance. One square millimeter of graphene can withstand up to two tons of pressure. For industrialists who need ever stronger and more powerful materials, graphene is a dream come true.
Increasing Mechanical Resistance of Composites
Alban Chesneau, CEO of Carbon Waters, explains that “When polymers are subjected to high pressure or intense physical constraint, even the top performing ones have an undesirable tendency to twist, lose their shape, or even break. So their useful life is limited.” That’s why the start-up began looking into the idea of increasing the mechanical resistance of materials using a graphene-based additive. “We are currently the only ones producing predispersed graphene that is ready to use as a high-performance additive. We have now proven that even at very low concentrations (0.02%), the mechanical resistance of polymers increases by several dozen percentage points.” Composites used in sports, wind power, space, aeronautics, and future hydrogen storage systems could soon become tougher, if they were “doped” with graphene. “One field of application we are actively working in is aeronautics,” Chesneau continues. “Our graphene additive could strengthen some composite parts, thereby lightening the plane’s structure.” As a bonus, it would cut way back on fuel consumption and translate to a very bright future for electric planes.
At the moment, the project has been launched, prototypes are being tested, and Carbon Waters has already created a first masterbatch and manufactured some graphene-polymer parts to use in composites. Chesneau points out, “Our first line will get the full go-ahead within a year. We’re also going to be actively involved in mechanical reinforcement of bio-based materials, like thermoplastics, as well as cellulose and lignin, with an eye to sustainable development and resource preservation. The long-term challenge is to speed up the adoption of these materials that rarely have the same performance as their oil-based equivalents.”