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Turning Alaska graphite into graphene

Vorbeck teams up with Graphite One for future graphene feed Metal Tech News – June 21, 2023

Seeking a domestic source of quality graphite that it can transform into the super 2D material known as graphene, Vorbeck Materials Corp. is teaming up with Graphite One Inc., a company developing an all-American graphite supply chain that will begin at the world-class Graphite Creek Mine in Alaska.

"Vorbeck Materials is excited to team with Graphite One to meet unique defense and commercial requirements with Graphite One's high-grade, U.S.-sourced graphite for advanced graphite and graphene applications," Vorbeck Materials CEO John Lettow said.

Advanced graphene maker

Co-founded by Lettow in 2006, Vorbeck utilizes a technology licensed by Princeton University to manufacture commercial quantities of graphene by exfoliating layers of this 2D wonder material off graphite, the most stable form of carbon on Earth.

Each layer of graphene produced is a one-atom-thick hexagonal lattice of carbon that is harder than diamond, stronger than steel, lighter than aluminum, and 13 times more electrically conductive than copper.

Vorbeck currently manufactures two primary graphene products, VOR-X and VOR-INK.

Imbued with graphene's superlative qualities, VOR-X materials are allowing manufacturers to circumvent the trade-offs common to technology and other sectors, such as capacity versus power output in a battery, or strength versus weight in a composite material.

VOR-INK formulations harness the exceptional conductivity of graphene to produce ultra-flexible and robust inks and coatings for printed electronics.

From puncture-resistant footwear and wearable electronics to spray-on electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding for electronics and high-performance antennas, the applications that can be enhanced by graphene and advanced graphite materials are innumerable.

Vorbeck, which holds more than 100 patents, also manufactures consumer products enhanced with its graphite materials, such as the Vorbeck HD4 communications harness built in partnership with Rajant Corp. Vorbeck's graphene-enhanced antennas coupled with Rajant's Breadcrumb mesh network technology provides mission-critical video, data, and voice communications for first responders.

"There are significant emergent requirements that will benefit from high-grade U.S.-sourced graphite and a team of engineers and scientists with deep experience in both industrial and technical formulations that leverage the unique mechanical and electrical properties of high-quality graphite and graphene. Teaming with Graphite One will provide best in class capability and performance for the most demanding customers," said Lettow.

New Graphite One markets

For Graphite One, the teaming agreement with Vorbeck provides a market for the advanced graphite products that will not be going into the anodes of lithium-ion batteries powering EVs.

"We are excited to team with Vorbeck Materials, a recognized leader in advanced graphite and graphene applications," said Graphite One CEO Anthony Huston.

Anchored by its Graphite Creek mine project in Alaska, which hosts the largest known deposit of graphite in the U.S., Graphite One is working toward establishing a vertically integrated supply chain that includes an advanced graphite material refining and recycling facility in Washington that is powered by clean hydroelectricity.

A prefeasibility study for Graphite One's planned graphite supply chain indicates that spherical coated graphite needed for the anodes of lithium-ion batteries will make up about two-thirds of the materials produced at the Washington facility. The remaining third will be advanced graphite materials that could be used to make graphene and other products for both military and commercial applications.

"While the majority of Graphite One's production will serve the electric vehicle battery and energy storage systems markets, we understand that the versatility of graphite and graphene offers opportunities to develop entirely new markets in both the commercial and defense sectors," said Huston. "Those transformative applications are what we intend to pursue with Vorbeck."

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.

 

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