How to Make Graphene from Trash – Rice University Scientists

Graphene is an allotrope of carbon. It is a single layer of carbon bound in a chicken wire-likee lattice. “Graphene is also the basic structural element of numerous other allotropes such as charcoal, graphite, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes” according to Lumen learning.

Graphene is the strongest material known to humans. Even a minuscule amount of graphene can greatly enhance the properties of paints, plastics, asphalt, composites, wood composites, concrete metals, and lubricants. “Graphene has promising effects when added to various materials such as efficient solar panels, faster DNA sequencing, drug delivery, and more” as stated by Graphene info. Graphene is extremely expensive, the price of graphene ranges from $100 to $200 per gram hence limiting its use in industrial applications.

A new process of producing graphene came from scientists at William Marsh Rice University, commonly known as Rice University, a private research university in Houston, Texas. A chemist James Tour said that they can any material with a carbon source into valuable graphene flakes. The process is called “flash graphene”. The new process is proven to be quick and cheap. Flash graphene can be made in approximately 10 milliseconds through heating carbon-containing materials in 5000 degrees Fahrenheit. “The flash graphene process happens in a custom-made reactor that heats material quickly and emits all non-carbon elements as gas” said James Tour. In this process even nitrogen and oxygen that exit the reactor can be trapped since it can be used and still has value. Tour said that the flash process only produces very little excess heat since it channels all of its energy into the target. James Tour stated that “The process is three times hotter than the chemical vapor deposition furnace that was formerly used to make graphene”. The excess energy will come out as light in a very bright flash since there are no solvents.

This new process of making flash graphene as stated uses any material with a carbon content food waste, coal, wood chippings, and plastic waste are only some of the primary candidates. This process is a new and great way to improve our environment since the entire world throws 30% to 40 % of all food because it foes bad and plastic waste is already a public concern. The new flash graphene is a win-win environmental and industrial solution.

James Tour stated that 0.01% concentration of flash graphene to bind concrete lessens the environmental impact by a third since the production of cement is said to emit 8% of carbon dioxide per year. Through incorporating flash graphene to concrete can strengthen it thus, people could use less concrete for buildings and cost less to manufacture and transport.

Tour states that graphene has been too expensive to use in various applications but through flash graphene the price will drastically decrease. James Tour promises that carbon will not enter the air again for their method will fix it.

Chemist James Tour together with his colleagues greatly desire to produce a kilogram of lash graphene a day starting with an approved project to convert US-sourced coal.