Is this next big thing ready to bloom

Investors addicted to high growth potential are constantly on the hunt for what researchers and market analysts call the “next big thing.”

Next Big Thing candidates are typically disruptive, as their business models have the ability to disrupt normally accepted business operations. The actions of financial technology, or fintech, offered a variety of Next Big Thing perspectives which have held their promise, with the Buy Now Pay Later sectors and Peer to Peer Lending among the main ones.

Yet not all survive the race from concept to market. As far back as 2014 and before, a derivative of common graphite was being hailed as a potential “next big thing” – the once-dubbed miracle material – graphene.

In 2014, IBM announced a major research project – funded by $ 3 billion – to replace silicon fleas in digital devices, graphene is then the main candidate. Research into the use of graphene in a coating technology for multiple industrial applications, from paint to concrete to solar panels, was underway.

Today, the use of graphene in batteries and energy storage systems is in development, and some companies have begun to market graphene additives in coating materials, but the breathless statements from the beginning of the last decade have largely not materialized.

However, impressive developments are underway that could integrate graphene into the production of existing lithium-ion technologies and stand-alone graphene batteries.

As early as 2015, researchers at Northwestern University in the United States built a silicon and graphite battery and remain in search of a better battery to this day. The US Department of Energy created the Center for Electrochemical Energy Science (CEES) to advance the technology used to create the cathode in lithium-ion batteries. Collaborators in this effort include another top engineering school – the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a renowned multidisciplinary scientific and engineering research center, Argonne National Laboratory.

Graphene is perfectly suited to “coating” other battery metals/minerals, which improves performance. The researchers are also working on “hybrid” metal/mineral compositions using graphene and other metals such as vanadium.

Think of graphene as an ultra-thin “honeycomb” sheet of carbon atoms, stronger than steel, better conductor of electricity than copper, light and flexible. A graphene-enhanced battery has a higher capacity for longer range, faster charge times, and a higher temperature range reducing the risk of fire.

From the site azonano.com, here is an image of the structure of a graphene sheet:

Given the hype investors have been reading about graphene for over a decade, why hasn’t graphene lived up to its promise?

The short answer is the cost of producing graphene-related products on a commercial scale. Additionally, researchers are pursuing multiple production pathways, making it difficult to identify the most promising developments. The history of graphene, discovered for the first time in 2004, is perhaps more important, researchers experimenting with applications for graphene developing at the start of the second decade of the 21stst century.

In stark contrast, lithium was first discovered in 1814, and the first lithium-ion battery hit the market in 1990. Researchers have been working on improving li-ion batteries for more than three decades.

The ASX does not include many graphene producers and only one is pursuing battery and energy storage applications, with others considering the possibility. Two are approaching the commercialization of graphene additives for coating applications. Graphene’s flexibility and conductivity make it an ideal material for sensors, and one company is working on biomedical sensors.

Graphite miner Talga Group produced and distributed samples of a graphene additive for coating applications, Talphene. However, the company’s short-term focus is on bringing its improved graphite anodes for batteries to market.

The company has several operating graphite mines in Sweden, with processing plants and the necessary infrastructure in place. Talga is the sole owner of its mines and production facilities, enabling “mine-to-market” operations. The company has 11 automakers and 37 battery manufacturers participating in by Talga “qualification” stage to test and develop the products. The company has targeted funding partners for additional funding for the project.

Talga has two graphene product lines using the graphene additive Talphene -; graphene Talcrete® for concrete applications and Talcoat® for marine coatings. Talcoat® is in the trial shipping phase. Talnode®-Si is a silicon-based anode for battery use. Talnode®-Si is a by-product of graphene.

First Graphene (FGR) claims to be the “world’s leading graphene supplier”, transporting graphite from the company’s mining operations in Sri Lanka to its processing facilities in Australia where its flagship offering – PureGRAPH® Graphene – is mined. This graphene additive is suitable for enhancing a range of products using plastics, composites, rubbers, cement and concrete, as well as inks and coatings.

Production capacity is commercial scale, with sufficient graphite supply to produce 100 tonnes of graphene per year. The company’s latest quarterly business report released in mid-July highlighted First Graphene 111% increase in revenue in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

The report also announces a JDA (joint development agreement) with an Australian photovoltaic producer Largecell for the development of graphene-enhanced solar cells.

First graphene has R&D (research and development) in the UK, associated with the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Center at the University of Manchester, working on the use of graphene in supercapacitors, a potential replacement for batteries. Capacitors are devices for storing electrical energy, superior to batteries with higher capacity and lower charging time.

Sparc Technologies (SPN) has a dual purpose – green hydrogen and graphene additives. The company is a three-way partner in the Sparc Hydrogen joint venture, made up of Sparc, the University of Adelaide and Fortescue Future Industries to develop green hydrogen using solar energy and water via thermo-photocatalysis , a process developed by the University of Adelaide. and Flinders University. Solar energy is direct sunlight. .

sparc is now ready to begin manufacturing graphene-based additives on a commercial scale. The company’s ecosparc graphene coating additives have been successfully tested, showing a 40% improvement in corrosion resistance over traditional epoxy coatings. Commercial scale processing equipment has been ordered and a manufacturing site identified. Test samples of the ecosparc coating were distributed.

The company also offers graphene-enhancing additives for use in concrete construction and with composite materials. Finally, at the end of December 2020, sparc announced that the company is launching a biomedical project in collaboration with the University of Adelaide to detect diseases in humans and animals using graphene-based respiratory sensors. No project updates have been announced since the initial release.

sparc is new to the ASX, listed in November 2020 to promote the University of Adelaide’s Graphene Technology Platform.

Finally, the sparc The website says the company is “evaluating opportunities to produce sustainably sourced graphene and hard carbon materials for high performance battery applications.”

Finally, both Archer Exploration and now Archer Materials (AXIS) moved from metal mining to quantum computing. Although extensive work the company has done on a world’s first qubit processor chip to power mobile quantum computers suggests of the archer primarily focuses on quantum computing, the company is also developing health solutions with its A1 biochip based on chip technology that incorporates graphene. Archer has filed patent applications for intellectual property to retain 100% ownership. The chip is being developed with the ARC (Australian Research Council) Hub for Graphene Enabled Industry Transformation.

This is a long-term project at best, much like the battery and energy storage potential of the other three stocks on the board. The first ready-to-use products will be coating, concrete and composite materials enriched with graphene additives.

The following table included key metrics for the four ASX-listed graphene stocks.

Company

(Coded)

Market Cap

Current share price

Share price

52 weeks high

52 week low

% change from year to year

% change since the beginning of the year

Total shareholder return

3 years

5 years

10 years

Talga Group

(TLG)

$409 million

$1.34

$2.23

$1.00

+3.88%

-17.79%

+47.2%

+14.2%

+20.5%

archery materials

(CHOPPED)

$221 million

$0.88

$2.61

$0.55

-56.8%

-21.78%

+94.3%

N / A

N / A

First graphene

(RFG)

$80 million

$0.14

$0.26

$0.11

-31.7%

-33.33%

-12%

+16.5%

+0.7%

Sparc Technologies

(PNS)

$69 million

$1.02

$2.18

$0.43

+131.8%

-37.04%

N / A

N / A

N / A

Comments are closed.