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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Unlocking the potential of graphene, a remarkable material

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In Short:

Graphene is a super strong, lightweight, flexible material that conducts electricity well. It has been hard to find practical uses for it until now. Researchers are finding new innovative ways to use graphene, such as in surgical gloves and aerospace balloons. By infusing graphene into natural rubber, it is possible to create lighter, stronger gloves and balloons that are more sustainable and have unique properties for launching satellites into space.


Revolutionizing Technology with Graphene Innovations

Have you heard of Graphene? It’s strong, lightweight, flexible, and an excellent conductor of electricity. Ever since its discovery at the University of Manchester 20 years ago, researchers have been fascinated by its properties. Now, at Cranfield University in Britain, Dr. Krzysztof Koziol and his team are taking graphene into new territories.

A Sustainable Approach to Graphene Production

Graphene is typically produced by stripping flakes of carbon from mined graphite. However, Levidian Nanosystems, a Cambridge-based company, has taken a more sustainable approach. By capturing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and subjecting it to microwave treatment, they are able to produce high-quality graphene flakes.

Innovative Applications of Graphene

Dr. Koziol’s team at Cranfield University collaborates with Levidian on various graphene-based projects. From reinforcing aircraft and wind turbines to improving medical gloves, the possibilities are endless. One notable collaboration was with Meditech Gloves, a Malaysian company renowned for its latex gloves.

The Future of Medical Gloves and Aerospace Balloons

With the onset of the pandemic, the demand for medical gloves skyrocketed. Cranfield University helped Meditech Gloves enhance their latex gloves by adding graphene, resulting in hypoallergenic, lightweight, and stronger gloves. Furthermore, the team is exploring the use of graphene-infused natural rubber for aerospace balloons, envisioning a future where satellites can be launched into orbit using this innovative technology.

Looking Ahead

As the team delves into 3D printing for medical gloves and balloons, the possibilities seem endless. Dr. Koziol dreams of building a launch pad at Cranfield, transforming the English countryside into a hub for aerospace innovation.

© 2024, The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under licence. The original content can be found on www.economist.com

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