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article image'Green' process developed to create valuable graphene

By Tim Sandle     Feb 2, 2020 in Science
Scientists have developed a new process to create valuable graphene in large quantities from waste food, plastic and other materials. The technology has a low environmental impact and has further green credentials by reprocessing waste.
The novel technology comes from Rice University and here researchers have demonstrated how high-energy pulses of electricity can be used to convert any source of carbon into turbostratic graphene (a material comprised of multiple graphene layers), almost instantaneously. This type of graphene can be used to strengthen concrete and add tensile strength to a variety of composite materials.
Graphene is a single, thin layer of graphite (an allotrope of carbon) layered as single atoms. It is 100 times stronger than the strongest steel and a good conductor of electricity. The material is also transparent and flexible.
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The inventor of the new technology is Dr. James Tour and he has termed it the "flash graphene" process. Through this process, graphene is created in just 10 milliseconds through the heating carbon-containing waste materials to 3,000 Kelvin (which is equivalent to 2727 degrees Celsius or around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit) in a specially designed reactor. The reactor loses very little heat and instead directs the heat almost completely to the target material.
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Dr. Tour comments that the process has great environmental potential by converting carbons into graphene from waste materials (as withe the circular economy concept) and then "adding that graphene to concrete, thereby lowering the amount of carbon dioxide generated in concrete manufacture. It's a win-win environmental scenario using graphene."
The next phase is to increase the scale, starting with generating one kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) a day of graphene through the high-heat flash process.
The new process has been reported to the science journal Nature. The research paper is: "Gram-scale bottom-up flash graphene synthesis"
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