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Applied Graphene Materials gets closer to 'joining the dots' for wonder material

The issue is getting the dispersion technology right, you can’t just add graphene powder to another substance

Just one atom thick

Excitement over the potential for graphene was considerable when the first companies launched on the stock market.

A few years on and some of the froth has blown off. Despite a lot of testing, serious commercial revenues have remained elusive.

WATCH: Applied Graphe ne predicts more sales ahead of new product launches

Adrian Potts, chief executive of Applied Graphene Materials PLC (LON:AGM), says sales might be coming through slower than anticipated but under the water, there is lots of activity underway.

He is no doubt graphene is the “wonder material” that it has been dubbed ever since it was first discovered by researchers in one of the University of Manchester’s labs back in 2004.

Made from a layer of carbon one atom thick, the semi-metal is many times stronger than steel, despite being so thin that 3mln sheets of it would barely reach 1 millimetre in thickness.

That helps to make it extremely flexible and ultra-lightweight, while it is also an extremely efficient conductor of heat and electricity.

Endless applications

The list of potential applications is seemingly endless: it could be used in planes to make them lighter and improve fuel efficiency or mixed with paint to prevent rust, while Head has already designed a graphene-enhanced tennis racquet.

The issue is getting the dispersion technology right, he says, adding you can’t just add graphene powder to another substance.

“The aim is to join the dots between graphene and its application in any relevant industry.”

The right dispersion technology makes it easy to handle and to put into a product.

Coatings and composites are Applied Graphene's focus especially anti-corrosion products.

Tackling rust

Rust is a problem that afflicts many industries.

Cars are an obvious market and Applied Graphene is close to launching its first product – an aerosol-based car paint primer – with Hycote, a brand of chemicals group James Briggs Limited.

But it is in harsher environments that Potts sees the big prize and where rust is a big problem.

Oil rigs, ships, wind turbines – all are highly prone to corrosion and a product that can prevent it would be in high demand.

AGM has developed a dispersed format of graphene, which Potts says is easy to use for many applications and has the potential to provide benefits for barrier protection right up to true anti-corrosion enhancement and chemical resistance.

That’s what it has been working on, but it's not a quick process.

For example, AGM has been working with James Briggs a long time to get to the point of a product launch, he says.

Satellites for Airbus

Other collaborations include another paint manufacturer, HMG, which is testing an anti-corrosion primer for commercial vehicles.

Swedish group ANS, meanwhile, is carrying out scale-up trials of a low friction direct to metal application, while aerospace giant Airbus is testing a high temperature, low-density glue for use on satellites.

True, these are still not orders, but that point is getting ever nearer especially as AGM now has technical data to back up the claims for the performance benefits.

“Now, we can explain why and how it happens, so the story hangs together better.”

AGM has cash of £8.26mln, which should be enough to see it through until 2021 at current expenditure.

Losses in the six months to January rose to £2.37mln (£2.29mln).

Another part of the strategy is to engage more with the graphene industry says Potts.

“We will be presenting at the NGA's Graphene Summit in May 2019 in Washington DC and have also joined The Graphene Council“.

At 30p, the group is valued at £14.8mln.

Quick facts: Applied Graphene Materials PLC

Price: 19 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £9.39 m

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