This week, we added a new display showcasing some graphene products and demonstrators. In the process of researching items to include in the display, one thing became very clear – graphene could make our technology more environmentally friendly across the board. I chose eight objects to include, each of which has a great story and represents an area where graphene enhances something in a way that will have a positive impact on our lives.
Many of the items in the display don’t look particularly different – you wouldn’t necessarily tell they contained graphene to look at them. That is, apart from the fact that graphene-enhanced products tend to be black or grey, either directly because of the graphene added, or because they have been made carbon black for marketing reasons to emphasise the fact that they contain graphene.
As I searched for content, I asked companies to tell me more about their graphene-enhanced products and the environmental impact they could have. Philip Aitchison from Imagine Intelligent Materials Pty Ltd told me that his company’s geotextile with imgne X3® graphene-based coating was “as green as a black thing can be.” This fantastic line proved to be a common theme among the companies I spoke to, and came to sum up the importance of the whole display to me.
Press articles about graphene tend to focus on glamorous far-future products such as electronic paper and space elevators. But I think that the best technology is invisible. It’s behind the scenes making things work better, and we don’t even know it’s there. Graphene is an invisible powerhouse of a material that could simply make our stuff work better for us. For example, adding graphene makes composites stronger and lighter, and of course a lighter car or aeroplane would need much less fuel.
We can also use it to filter water, as the addition of graphene oxide to water filters means they can turn dirty or salty water into drinking water faster and cheaper. Graphene-enabled products will help us to do more with less, and in a world where resources are limited and we have urgent global challenges to address, what could be more important?