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Have Your Heard of Graphene?

Commodities / Metals & Mining Feb 02, 2012 - 01:31 AM GMT

By: Anthony_David


Graphene was discovered about seven years ago in Britain and since then, the material has been generating tremendous attention. The wonder value of the material is extraordinary—it is 200 times stronger than steel and tougher than diamond yet almost invisible and weightless; it stretches like rubber and is a better conductor of heat and electricity than copper. In fact, some researchers claim it is the most important substance created since synthetic plastic a century ago!

The significance of graphene can be estimated from the fact that in 2010, Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov of the University of Manchester were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their ‘groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene.’ Their work involved isolating graphene flakes using sticky tape.

Graphene is made from graphite, a mineral largely mined in China, India and Canada, with China producing 70–80% of the mineral. China has already taken steps to retain its graphite resources. In addition to restricting its export quota, China has imposed a 20% export duty and a 17% VAT making graphite prices rise. Depending on flake size, graphite flakes are now selling at $2,000–$3,000 per ton. High-purity, large graphite flakes are an integral part of lithium-ion batteries and in fact, these batteries have ten times more graphite than lithium. The demand for lithium-ion batteries is constantly rising with the rising evolution and demand for electric cars.

Graphite has not quite been the miracle mineral investors have been chasing about so far although its natural strength, stiffness, excellent heat and electricity conducting properties have been known features. However, the immense possibilities of graphene have piqued the interest of many. The demand and supply fundamentals of graphite are like those of rare earth metals. The British Geological Survey has listed both graphite and rare earth metals as those most likely to be in short supply globally.

A sheet of graphene is ultra-thin and is made up of one layer of carbon atoms bonded in a honeycomb pattern. So far, it is the thinnest and strongest known material. The potential applications of graphene include lighting panels and televisions that are wallpaper thin, mobile phones that can be folded away behind the ear, bendy electronic newspapers that could be folded into tiny squares, and a generation of even lighter aircraft. It could replace silicon in the manufacture of computer chips and bring new possibilities in medical advancements. The material could make solar panels more efficient and semiconductors faster. The potential of graphene in the manufacture of stealth military applications and electronic technology is probably still unimaginable. It is not for nothing that graphene is being increasingly referred to as the ‘miracle material.’

There are however, some chinks in this unbounded glory. It has been pointed out that making large sheets of graphene is not easy while IBM has mentioned that graphene replacing silicon in computer chips is not easy to ‘imagine’. Another practical problem is the high electricity conducting property of graphene. Devices such as transistors control the flow of electric currents but to manufacture these transistors, graphene would have to stop conducting electricity—so far a rather cumbersome problem. Certain analysts are of the opinion that commercial use of graphene would be feasible only after five years or so when prices are also likely to drop. The present problem is one of over capacity.

By Anthony David

The mission of the Critical Strategic Metals Web Site

is to serve as a monthly compass for those who take a fundamental view of investment regarding the Molybdenum, Manganese and Magnesium metals markets, are concerned with the emerging critical under-supply of these strategic metals to Western nations and wish to profitability chart their course. Each month we will research and provide, in as short and concise a manner as possible, the most applicable information available on resources that will have the biggest impact on our day to day lives. Click here to sign-up for our FREE monthly report.

© 2011 Copyright  Anthony David- All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

© 2005-2019 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Chad McMillan
02 Feb 12, 19:18
Graphite stocks

Hi Anthony,

A good awareness piece. It'll be interesting to see where these potential graphene applications take us. In the meantime the markets have certainly begun to take notice.

Check out my site and drop me a note anytime.


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