Graphene has already proven to be one of the most fascinating and versatile materials known to man, but producing it at scale for commercial applications is often prohibitively expensive. Toronto-based Universal Matter has devised a way of inexpensively making graphene from waste products, and plans on selling the resulting material to concrete and cement makers.
The company says it has managed to make graphene from the carbon found in waste plastic, organic waste, and even tires. The process involves placing the recovered carbon between a pair of electrodes and zapping it with electricity. This heats the material to the point all chemical bonds are broken. After the heat is removed, the carbon reforms as graphene, according to the company.
“The beauty of the method is that you can work with wastes with a lot of carbon that can be converted inexpensively to graphene,” says Universal Matter CEO John van Leeuwen. “There are no chemicals so it’s cleaner; it’s not energy intensive and it’s a faster process.”
The company is looking to provide its product to concrete manufacturers, as well as polyurethane foam producers, as graphene has shown to improve the desirable properties like weight and compressive strength for both.