How to Make Graphene the Easy Way

March 8 2021

Graphene is a revolutionary nanomaterial that has a wide range of applications, from batteries to cancer therapy. However, it has been notoriously complicated to make. Most known processes are also quite sluggish, outputting less than 0.5 grams per hour. And while there are companies that are capable of manufacturing graphene at higher rates, the products do not have the best quality.

Now, there is a much easier way. First, take some pulverised pencil lead. This material is made of graphite, which comprises several sheets of graphene stacked together. If those sheets can be separated, you would get individual layers of graphene. What you need next is a solvent, such as dishwashing liquid in water.

To facilitate the process of separation, combine the graphite powder, water, and dishwashing liquid into a blender and set it to high speed. Afterwards, you have an instant graphene mix.

Research done by Jonathan Coleman and his colleagues at Trinity College Dublin used a similar method to create graphene. They used graphite powder and a special solvent, which they blended using a laboratory mixer. With that, they were able to produce 5 grams of graphene in one hour of mixing.

Another part of their study was to use a variety of motors and solvents to maximise the output of graphene. That's when they discovered that an ordinary kitchen blender and dishwashing liquid could achieve a similar outcome.
However, with the blender and detergent, the results tend to be a mixed bag. What they got is a mishmash of graphene, soap, and water in a black liquid. Afterwards, they still have to separate the graphene from the other components. Moreover, this method does not extract the maximum amount of graphene from the pencil lead.

The next step of Coleman and his team is to scale the process to an industrial level. Based on Coleman's calculations, using the same method and with the correct motor, they could use a 10,000-litre tank to generate 100 grams of graphene per hour. It's still not a lot, but that output is 20 times greater than in their laboratory technique.


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