A new business has been created to develop innovative high-performance rubbers, elastomers and other soft materials enhanced with graphene, a super-strong two-dimensional material first produced in Manchester.
Grafine was founded by two University of Manchester academics, Dr Maria Iliut and Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan.
Both founders are world experts in the material and its use in making rubbers and elastomers stronger and more durable.
Based at The University of Manchester’s Innovation Centre on Grafton Street, Grafine will use the University’s world-class facilities including the brand-new Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) for its product development work.
Grafine is offering a range of technical development services to manufacturing companies from around the world who wish to profit from the performance benefits that graphene can add to their products.
Elastomers and rubbers are used world over in products such as tyres, shoes, gloves, industrial components, construction materials, coatings and medical devices.
The global market size for rubber and elastomer products is forecast to be more than £70 billion by 2021.
Grafine is looking to exploit the potential of this massive global market and has already excited interest from global manufacturers of elastomer and rubber products.
Dr. Vijayaraghavan, who has been at the forefront of research into graphene for more than a decade, said: “We are very excited to launch Grafine Ltd because we have the specialist skills and know-how to help global manufacturing companies use new two-dimensional materials like graphene effectively and cheaply.’
He continued: “Businesses in many sectors are continually striving to improve the properties of elastomeric compounds in order to enhance product performance in both existing and new applications.
“Graphene can further enhance the already excellent properties of rubber and elastomers by improving their strength, elasticity, flexibility, thermal stability, resistance to chemicals and durability.
“With the support of Grafine Ltd, manufacturing companies will be able to give product designers even greater flexibility when they create new products.
“By working with Grafine, manufacturers will be able to accelerate the speed with which they can bring these new elastomer composites to market while reducing risk and lowering cost”.
Dr. Iliut, the academic co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Grafine, added: “Our business, Grafine Ltd, offers a range of consultancy services to companies wishing to exploit the benefits that these nano-materials can bring to their elastomeric products and coatings. Grafine will also sign commercial deals to license its know-how and patents allowing knowledge and technology transfer to its industrial customers.”
The University’s wholly owned subsidiary, Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd, has supported the academic founders and, with assistance from UMI3 Ltd (the University's IP commercialisation company), created Grafine Ltd.
Its CEO, Andrew Wilkinson, who represents the University on the Grafine Ltd board, is very optimistic about Grafine’s future.
“Grafine offers manufacturers the skills and know-how in graphene-enhanced elastomer and rubber composites and coatings that would take them decades to develop in-house.
“As the company builds its customer base and grows we predict it will have a major impact on the use of 2-dimensional materials in the global rubber and elastomer market.”
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