CPI establish Graphene Applications Innovation Centre | CPI

CPI establish Graphene Applications Innovation Centre

Yesterday’s budget announcement has named The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) as the home of a new £14 million Graphene Applications Innovation Centre.

The new centre will build on existing capabilities and will open later this year to provide facilities and expertise to help companies to develop, prove, prototype and scale up graphene based products and processes.

In his speech, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, outlined plans to kick start the technology and manufacturing sectors in the UK. If Britain isn’t leading the world in science and technology and engineering, then we are condemning our country to fall behind,” he told Parliament.

He said: “[Graphene is] a great British discovery that we should break the habit of a lifetime with and commercially develop in Britain.”

Nigel Perry, CEO of CPI said: Graphene is a very interesting material with great promise. The new centre will work alongside academic organisations such as the National Graphene Institute, graphene manufacturers and end users, to develop and prove commercial applications for a range of major industries. The new centre will integrate with existing development facilities at CPI’s printable electronics and formulation centres based at Sedgefield, Co. Durham.”

The UK has a strong position in the fundamental science of graphene and the new centre will increase the focus on exploring potential applications via the scale up of manufacturing processes for both material and products.

If the UK is to create economic benefit from graphene it will require a concerted effort to become closer to market by proving that processes work at an industrial scale.” Speaking on the Budget, Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: Today’s announcement is a positive endorsement from Government of the rapid progress Catapults are making in helping UK businesses accelerate the commercialisation of new and innovative technologies.”

Graphene, first isolated at the University of Manchester in 2004, is tipped to transform many products. Its electrical and thermal conductivity, optical purity and mechanical strength could be used in high-capacity batteries, flexible screens, ultra-fast transistors and other electronic components, super-bright lasers and materials from sports equipment to aircraft wings.

CPI has been awarded the centre due to its existing activities in the development and scale up of new products and processes, as well as its current work with graphene technologies and formulation.

CPI manages the national development centres for industrial biotechnology, printable electronics and biologics and has a strong track record of working with and developing SMEs. A part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the UK government’s elite network of technology innovation centres, CPI helps its clients to develop, prove, prototype and scale up the next generation of products and processes.

What is Graphene?

  • Graphene is taken from graphite, which is made up of weakly bonded layers of carbon
  • Graphene is composed of carbon atoms arranged in tightly bound hexagons just one atom thick
  • Three million sheets of graphene on top of each other would be 1mm thick
  • The band structure of graphite was first theorised and calculated by PR Wallace in 1947, though for it to exist in the real world was thought impossible
  • In 2004, teams including Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov demonstrated that single layers could be isolated, resulting in the award of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010
  • It is a good thermal and electric conductor and can be used to develop semiconductor circuits and computer parts. Experiments have shown it to be incredibly strong