Posted on Oct. 11, 2010 (speech notes by Dr. Gordon Chiu/International Graphene Conference in Brussels)
My name is Dr. Gordon Chiu. I am a co-founder of Grafoid and hold the title of Vice President. I am also Chief Scientist of Focus Metals Inc., the owner and developer of the Lac Knife, Quebec, high-grade graphite deposit.
Grafoid invests and manages investments in high-growth, scalable graphene projects, patents and material applications.
We also provide technical advisory and consulting services for graphene and its chemistry to miners, suppliers, manufacturers and processors of graphene materials.
Our two companies hold a mutually beneficial relationship in both scientific and business terms. Together, we have the potential to effect change in graphene applications.
Grafoid has invested in, and manages a scalable graphene process which produces a unique kind of graphene. We transform Focus Metals’ raw, unprocessed, high quality graphite to high quality, high-energy graphene.
And out of the transformation process comes the manufacture of pristine bilayer and trilayer graphene. We are now proving our economically scalable mass production process.
The key, cost-mitigating element is the source. Focus Metal’s graphite.
Graphite, grading at 16% is a super concentrate deposit (>15%). Additionally, the SEM image indicates that the deposit is also highly ordered graphite. These two vital components allowed our investment to create a novel chemical exfoliation and transformation process removing the need for strong acids and strong oxidants. The result is a scalable approach for a high quality graphene that maintains its highly conductive properties.
In the absence of a universally accepted standard for graphene, we would encourage our community to consider the values of a non-crushed, non-pulverized source that retains all or most of its naturally formed, original properties.
Then, I would urge everyone here today to consider the source, or sources used in their application research and development.
Promoting a global standard for economically scalable, affordable graphene is a worthy and purposeful enterprise. Quality graphite produces an even higher quality, high-energy graphene.
When you consider energy storage applications, super capacitors and graphene anodes for li-ion batteries, for example, quality graphene makes a compelling reason for investigation.
Graphene’s material capabilities provide our community with a tremendous opportunity to change the world.
Graphene’s existence provides opportunities to effect change in structures, energy storage and improve our lives from a myriad of enhanced, future technologies.
Since assuming my duties with Focus Metals as Chief Scientist just over a year ago, I started a collaboration with bankers, chemists, chemical engineers, physicists and politicians.
Together we agreed that graphene production should be safe, environmentally sustainable and as impactful as graphene’s first achievement in the Nobel Prize accomplishment for Physics in 2010.
Today, I can say our collaborative group has been joined by academics, commercial and industrial partners who share the same belief and interest in working together to create world-changing graphene applications that are affordable in all sectors.
It is important, if not critical to our future success that we look to the past and learn from our mistakes by adopting a sweeping determination to avoid failure.
Carbon nanotubes consumed a decade in time and effort and nearly a trillion dollars worth of investment. It culminated in lost research opportunities for a better “wonder material.”
We need to develop a better understanding of what is important to the graphene R&D community. And we have a primary responsibility to ourselves not to doom ourselves to another decade of failure.
Grafoid adheres to “S.E.E.K.” principles – an acronym I coined for project benchmarking that de-risks the developmental process.
SAFETY: It is paramount that graphene production is scaled with safety engineering measures in mind. As many of you know, the process for Hummer’s method can lead to explosions.
EFFECTIVE: means the highest quality, reproducible batches of graphene.
ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE REPRODUCEABILITY: avoid strong oxidation, strong acids etc.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPI): the lowest costs derived from the highest technology grade graphite destined for practical applications and patents.
For those of you here today working closely with me, I thank you for your contributions to the field. Those of you who have invested heavily in chemical engineering processes such as IDT, Vorbeck, XG Sciences, I commend you for your dedication towards safety.
Adoption of the S.E.E.K. factors results in truly responsible innovation from truly responsible innovators.
In less than a year and with a budget of thousands of dollars – not millions – we’ve created benchmarks for economically scalable, pristine graphene and bilayer and trilayer graphene.
We did so because a junior Canadian graphite mining developer had the vision to investigate the properties of its mineral resource at a time when our community was consumed almost exclusively with application development but recognized the need for an upstream partner.
The correlation between high quality graphite and high quality, high energy graphene became immediately evident under our laboratory investigations.
By optimizing existing graphene processes and combining chemistry with Lac Knife’s raw, graphite ore, we’ve set benchmarks using our SEEK principles for quality, safety, and ultimately, for a consistently reproducible, marketable graphene.
SEEK goes to the core philosophy of our top-down solutions approach.
At the end of the day, our future business structures will be built upon a universally acceptable foundation of quality.
Grafoid’s investment in process chemistry and process research led to this innovation and invention.
Our SEEK protocols led to a test for establishing a baseline standard for measuring economically scalable graphene.
Graphene is portrayed colloquially as the rock star of science. If so, even our rock star needs to be managed by the rules and conventions we set for ourselves as an industry.
If graphene is, as is said, the new wonder material that will change our world, the question is:
Which graphene source provides the stability capable of supporting a future industry with the potential of generating trillions of dollars of future revenues?
And, what options are available to application developers in our community today and graphene manufacturers in the future?
Hummer’s method resolves the scalability issue at the expense of conductivity.
Chemical vapor deposition produces high quality graphene but remains expensive.
The challenge for scientists today is to aim for lower production cost for pristine graphene in the future, down from the current stratospheric price of today.
We are still years away from achieving that goal. Eliminating costs is the key to any kind of commercial success.
Universal acceptance by the investment community will come once mass producers like Apple, Sony, Samsung, IBM, Nokia and Airbus Industries, for example, are assured of a sustainable, low-cost and viable graphene source.
Many companies have become frustrated because the scalable graphene is mainly reduced graphene oxide while the CVD graphene remains expensive.
Grafoid’s investment strategy is to solve that problem.
Our approach is to be stringent resolving the scalability issue, and more, to invest in tailoring graphene for specific purposes. For example, a graphene battery requires a different tailoring than a graphene application for polymers or thermal management.
Our interest is in collaborations and co-development projects that create new, powerful products by partnering and bringing that innovation to market.
As an investor, Grafoid looks for unique opportunities for downstream applications while bringing a library of material discoveries from our early investments in graphene.
Energy storage, plastics and polymers are our primary areas of investment and we are very open to collaborating with graphene experts who share in this philosophy: A superior graphite source leads to a dynamic graphene source.