IDTechEx has invited a series of industrial players and leader active in graphene commercialization to contribute their opinions about the state of the technology and markets.
As part of article series, we will today hear from Cabot, a major player in the carbon black industry, who write about the commercial applications of graphene additives. To contact Cabot directly please write to the author Dr Angelos Kyrlidis on firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the graphene markets please refer to our report on Graphene, 2D Materials, and Carbon Nanotubes 2016-2026: Markets, Technologies, and Opportunities. You can also meet with many industry leaders at our business-focused event Graphene Europe 2017 taking place on May 10th and 11th in Berlin, Germany.
From the first pencils that used non-toxic graphite to the first durable tires reinforced with carbon black, carbon materials have played an important role in enabling several applications. Graphene-based materials ("graphenes") are a new family of carbon materials derived from graphite and related to the wonder material 'graphene' that have recently been getting a lot of attention. Their unique combination of properties (electrical, mechanical, barrier, etc.) and high aspect ratio promise performance that can break trade-offs and drive sustainable solutions such as automotive lightweighting and durability.
Cabot Corporation has a long history in carbon materials, and has been in the business of producing carbon black for more than 135 years. Cabot is developing technologies for the production and use of graphenes by leveraging its extensive experience in carbon materials. Through in-house development and external collaborations, we have selected scalable production routes that produce materials with unique morphologies and properties that map into the application needs of our customers. We are increasing our production capabilities for these materials to enable commercial adoptions.
The first market to adopt Cabot graphene products has been energy storage. Our high performing PBX® and LITX® carbon additives have enabled new applications in lead acid and lithium ion battery applications. Over the last year we commercialized our PBX® 300G graphenes in lead acid applications. These materials can be used in the negative paste at very low loadings (0.25-0.75 wt%) and help improve cycle life in deep discharge applications because of their high conductivity and unique aggregate morphology. Batteries containing these materials can maintain high discharge rates even at low temperatures, expanding the range of possible applications. In lithium ion battery applications, we are learning that controlling the dispersion quality of the conductive additives is critical to deliver the best performance. We are working closely with customers to develop formulated dispersions of conductive additives for lithium ion batteries containing our graphenes for specific cathode formulations.
We see many opportunities for graphenes, especially reduced graphite oxide (rGO), in high performance elastomers and conductive plastics. The main lesson we have learned in these applications is that often graphenes alone may not offer the optimal solution. A combination of low loadings of rGO and existing additives can lead to balanced performance with some of the unique benefits that graphenes can bring to composites. We think of this as the "additive to the additive" approach. An example of this approach is shown in Figure 2. Hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber (HNBR) elastomers are used in demanding aggressive applications where high temperature performance is valued. We have found that replacement of small amounts of carbon black by rGO in a formulation can match the modulus of a formulation with 40 wt% higher carbon loading, while providing improved high temperature tensile properties, lower viscosity, and lower hysteresis. This combination of benefits can improve processability, reduce the weight of the parts made from the compound and lower the heat generated in dynamic applications.
We are also very excited by the possibilities of pushing performance boundaries with graphenes in conductive plastics, where Cabot is already a known leader with our VULCAN® XC™ products and CABELEC® conductive compounds and concentrates. We are working on the development of novel graphenes containing breakthrough products to expand our current portfolio of conductive compounds.
Cabot is always on the lookout for new developments in technology and new application and collaboration opportunities. We invite our customers to connect with us so that we can discuss how our materials and our competencies can solve their most challenging problems.