New technological process transforms everyday trash into graphene

January 29, 2020 by  
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Rice University researchers have succeeded in creating graphene, not from costly purified starting materials, but from everyday trash . The amount produced is in kilograms per day, rather than the customary small batches of grams per day produced via traditional methods. With the researchers’ novel technique using electricity, even carbon sourced from food scraps, plastic waste and wood clippings can be the starting material for high-quality graphene. This breakthrough study holds both environmental and market promise for various scaled-up applications. Research team lead James Tour said on The Engineer , “With the present commercial price of graphene being $67,000 to $200,000 per ton, the prospects for this process look superb.” Tour has co-founded the startup company Universal Matter, Inc. to commercialize this new waste-to-graphene technique. Related: ‘Game changing’ graphene concrete is twice as strong and better for the planet Graphene is highly prized in sectors like battery energy, (flexible) electronics, semiconductors, solar and even DNA sequencing for its outstanding mechanical, electric and thermal properties. Structurally, graphene can be visualized as ultra-thin sheets or films of pure carbon atoms, leveraged to create high-strength materials. For decades, graphene had only been conceptualized by theoretical physicists. Then in 1962, it was observed via electron microscopes. However, its instability led to it remaining on the fringes of physics . That changed in 2002, when Andre Geim, a University of Manchester physics professor, re-discovered graphene.  The New Yorker documented Geim’s specialty as microscopically thin materials. Hence, it wasn’t much of a leap for him to rethink stacking carbon atoms into thin layers to see how they’d behave in particular experimental conditions. Geim was thereby the first to isolate and produce graphene so that it was no longer an elusive substance. In 2010, Geim was recognized for his pioneering work with graphene and awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Although the knowledge of isolating and producing graphene has been known since the early 2000s, the costs have been prohibitive. Why? Methods of creating graphene required, as Chemical & Engineering News cited, “expensive substrates on which to grow graphene and/or reagents such as methane, acetylene and organic solids that must be purified before use.” But with this breakthrough from the Rice University and Universal Matter, Inc. team, the industry is about to change. Just think, this new trash-to-treasure technique with graphene poses a win-win in terms of both cost for production and the environment. + Nature Via Science Image via CORE-Materials

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New technological process transforms everyday trash into graphene

‘Game changing’ graphene-reinforced concrete is stronger and better for the planet

May 3, 2018 by  
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Add concrete to the list of things graphene can improve. Scientists at the University of Exeter ‘s Center for Graphene Science developed a new technique to incorporate graphene in concrete production with the help of nanoengineering technology — and the resulting material was not only over twice as strong as concretes we have today, but “drastically reduced the carbon footprint of conventional concrete production methods.” Is there anything graphene can’t do? It can boost both the strength and durability of concrete. The resulting University of Exeter composite material is four times as water resistant as existing concretes, and, according to professor Monica Craciun , “by including graphene we can reduce the amount of materials required to make concrete by around 50 percent — leading to a significant reduction of 446 kilograms per tonne of the carbon emissions .” Related: MIT just discovered a way to mass produce graphene in long rolls The research, published in late April in the journal Advanced Functional Materials , pioneers a novel, low cost technique that is, according to the university, compatible with requirements for modern, large-scale manufacturing. The composite material can be utilized right on building sites. Craciun described the new green concrete as an absolute game-changer. She said its strength, durability, and water resistance make it “uniquely suitable for construction in areas which require maintenance work and are difficult to be accessed.” Lead author Dimitar Dimov, a PhD student at the university, described the research as a first but crucial step “in the right direction to make a more sustainable construction industry for the future.” He said in the statement, “Finding greener ways to build is a crucial step forward in reducing carbon emissions around the world and so help protect our environment as much as possible.” + University of Exeter + Advanced Functional Materials Images via Depositphotos and Derek Torsani on Unsplash

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‘Game changing’ graphene-reinforced concrete is stronger and better for the planet

This dreamy cluster of cabins houses light-filled live/work spaces in Hokkaido

May 3, 2018 by  
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Japanese architect Makoto Suzuki has carved out a slice of live/work paradise with this cluster of cabins in Hokkaido . While each mono-pitched structure appears to stand independently, the timber-clad buildings are interconnected. The project, called the House in Tokiwa, also achieves harmony with the landscape through the use of natural materials and low-profile structures that embrace nature at every turn. Located near Sapporo, House in Tokiwa comprises a series of structures of varying heights clad in vertical timber planks. Mono-pitched roofs top the taller volumes, while greenery covers the roofs of a few of the lower-profile structures. Large windows frame views of the surroundings while the relatively remote location mitigates privacy concerns. Outdoor terraces also reinforce the connection with nature. Related: Tidy Japanese home mimics the greenhouse effect to keep warm The home is divided into two roughly equal-sized clustered halves connected by a centrally located bathroom. The main living areas are set in a cluster that wraps around a small courtyard planted with lilac trees. This cluster contains a two-story villa for Suzuki’s father, a kitchen and dining area with full-height windows, the master bedroom, and an office for Suzuki’s wife that sits above the living room. The majority of the workspaces are housed in the second cluster, which includes a meeting room, bathrooms, and two spacious work areas, one of which is used by sculptor Takenobu Igarashi . + Makoto Suzuki Via Dezeen Images via Koji Sakai

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This dreamy cluster of cabins houses light-filled live/work spaces in Hokkaido

Flexible ConFlexPave concrete is tougher, thinner and lighter than conventional mixtures

August 18, 2016 by  
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Scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have developed a new concrete mixture that is stronger than traditional recipes but also flexible , which helps it reduce skid resistance once installed. The research team behind the cleverly named ConFlexPave say its unique properties mean it could cut installation time in half for new roads, parking lots, and other paved surfaces. The time savings come from the ability to precast slabs of ConFlexPave, which are thinner and lighter than traditional concrete mixtures. The secret to ConFlexPave’s strength and flexibility is the polymer microfiber it contains, which allows the slabs to bend under pressure without cracking. The new concrete was developed by a team working at NTU-JTC Industrial Infrastructure Innovation Centre (I³C) at NTU Singapore. Researchers say the flexible concrete slabs will speed up construction timelines, as well as cut down on maintenance over time, making for a more sustainable product. NTU Assistant Professor Yang En-Hua, lead researcher on the study, said the key to developing this next-generation building material was understanding how all the components interact with one another mechanically on a microscopic level. “With detailed understanding, we can then deliberately select ingredients and engineer the tailoring of components, so our final material can fulfill specific requirements needed for road and pavement applications,” said En-Hua in a statement . Related: Scientists develop wonder nanomaterial that can produce energy, clean water, and hydrogen ConFlexPave’s unique composition puts it in another category than traditional concrete mixtures used in many building projects , which are heavy and prone to damage. “The hard materials [in ConFlexPave] give a non-slip surface texture while the microfibres which are thinner than the width of a human hair, distribute the load across the whole slab, resulting in a concrete that is tough as metal and at least twice as strong as conventional concrete under bending,” said En-Hua. So far, the research team has tested slabs of the new flexible concrete that are the size of a tablet computer. Over the next three years, the team will scale up testing with larger installations on the JTC campus, where ConFlexPave will really be put through the paces (from foot traffic as well as vehicles). Via Archinect Images via Nanyang Technological University and Shutterstock

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Flexible ConFlexPave concrete is tougher, thinner and lighter than conventional mixtures

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