Specialist graphite producer Tirupati Graphite’s graphene and technology development unit, Tirupati Graphene and Mintech Research Centre, has developed a graphene-aluminium composite, which it says exhibits significantly higher conductivity and strength properties over aluminium, comparable to copper.
The company has engaged with potential end-users, including a FTSE 100 company for its potential use in replacing copper in thermal power and propulsion systems, which provides significant advantages owing to reduced weight, it notes.
The composite successfully combines graphene with aluminium, resulting in enhanced thermal and electrical conductivity and improved mechanical properties retaining aluminium’s light weight.
With this, micro-hardness is increased by more than 300% over aluminium, which is 50% higher than copper; thermal conductivity is increased to greater than 200% over aluminium, which is better than copper values; and electrical conductivity increased to greater than 150% over aluminium, which is greater than 95% that of copper.
The company aims to increase these figures with further optimisation.
The composite is almost free from oxidation and carbide forms of aluminium, a critical achievement breaking the key technological barrier in development of the composite, the company acclaims.
It says the composite has the potential to be used across various electrical and thermal conductivity applications with its significant advantage of weight reduction.
Copper is generally the material of choice for an array of electrical and thermal conductivity applications owing to its superior conductivity and other properties, but it is about 3.2 times denser than aluminium and about five times as expensive, the company explains.
Tirupati is working with various industrial end-users to conduct the next stage of product testing, trial development and scale-up with commercialisation-focused engagements.
A FTSE 100 engineering company is exploring the composite’s potential use in power and propulsion systems to reduce weight and, thereby, reduce the carbon footprint and emissions from current technologies and processes.
The next steps include manufacturing a few kilograms of the composite for extensive application and product specific tests, both internal and external, as well as to establish large scale, end-product manufacturing processes.
Further development work will be undertaken to alloy the composite with other metal additives to improve specific application related properties for advanced applications in structural materials for space, aerospace and land and sea mobility.
“The message is clear across the world: a dramatic change in how we live is needed to combat climate change. As part of this, stimulating innovation of low-carbon technologies including the creation of better materials is fundamental,” says Tirupati CEO Shishir Poddar.
“We are deeply engaged in some of these innovations, looking to create disruptive new age materials, as demonstrated by the development of this ground-breaking composite.
“We are delighted that this achievement has caught the attention of several major companies globally, including a world leading FTSE 100 engineering group, with whom we are now working to further develop our composite and explore commercialisation opportunities.
“We believe that this material has transformational potential and could be a key contributor to emissions reduction as it evolves,” he added.