Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb (hexagons or chicken-wire) crystal lattice. Researchers started to study Graphene in 2004, and since then they have found dozens of potential applications and exciting properties of this wonder material. Graphene is set to revolutionize a lot of industries, including sensors, batteries, conductors, displays, electronics, energy generation, medicine and more.
Graphene is the strongest material ever developed - 200 times stronger than steel and tougher than a diamond. It's also the world's thinnest material, and it is flexible and transparent. Graphene is also the best heat and electricity conductor. As can be expected, the research community is very excited about this material, and the business world follows suit. The commercialization of graphene is just in its infancy, but already dozens of new companies have been established to develop graphene based material, graphene production processes and other related activities.
Investing in a pure-play graphene company is not easy, as almost all of these companies are currently privately held. As we said graphene is still an early stage play and so all those graphene companies you can in find our index are usually small and young startups.
The following sections detail public graphene companies. For a more in-depth analysis of the possibility of investing in graphene, check out our own Graphene Investment Guide!
Pure-play graphene companies
There are several pure-play graphene public companies, most of them based in the UK, Canada and Australia.
Haydale (AIM:HAYD) develops and markets carbon materials under the HDPlas brand. The company is currently focused on graphene composite solutions, and the company also developed and supplies metal-free graphene-based inks.
Towards the end of 2015, Haydale raised around £6.0 million in an open share offer. Haydale's revenues in FY2015 reached £644,000 while total income (which includes government grants) reached £1.48 million (up from £129,000). Most of the increase in income came from Haydale Composite Solutions. Haydale FY2015 loss reached to £2.38 million.
In October 2013 we posted an article explaining Haydale's business and technology.
Applied Graphene Materials was established in 2010 as a spin-off from Durham University to develop a new graphene synthesis method and produce graphene materials. AGM's technology is a unique patented scalable 'bottom-up' CVD approach to produce graphene. AGM is a public company that lists in the UK's AIM stock exchange (AIM:AGM).
AGM mainly targets graphene composites, coatings, lubricants, thermal management solutions and energy storage devices. In FY2015, AGM reported revenues of £41,000 (up from £4,000 pounds in FY2014) and a pretax loss of £4 million. AGM reported a significantly-broadened collaboration opportunity pipeline and provided over 120 evaluation samples to customers in more than 20 countries, and has plans to raise over £10 million.
Carbon Sciences is developing a graphene production process technology that was originally invented at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). The process transforms natural gas into commercial size sheets of graphene that can be fine-tuned with application-specific electrical and materials properties.
Carbon Sciences is also funding an R&D initiative at UCSB to develop a graphene-based optical modulator, a critical fiber optics component needed to enable ultrafast communication in data centers for cloud computing. Carbon Sciences is a public company trading on the NASDAQ (OTC:CABN).
Cientifica (AIM:CTFA) started trading in October 2013 when they raised only £241,000 ($389,000) to invest and acquire graphene application businesses. They have an option to acquire 49.9% in RainMaker and are also collaborating with London Graphene. In 2014 the company wanted to raise more funds but failed, and it seems that trade in the company stock has halted.
Graphene 3D Labs (TSX:GGG) is focusing on development of high-performance graphene-enhanced materials for 3D printing. The company was spun-off Graphene Labs with support from Lomiko Metals (who holds 15% of the company). In August 2014 graphene 3D Lab went public after a reverse merger with Matnic Resources.
In March 2015 Graphene 3D Lab launched the world’s first conductive graphene filament for 3D printing. And in August 2015 the company acquired its parent company, Graphene Labs. In December 2015, G3L raised CDN$1 million in a private placement.
Talga Resources is an Australia-based company focused on graphite mining and graphene supply and application development. The company produces small-scale graphene products and has plans to construct a graphene demonstration plant in central Germany.
Talga Resources is a public company trading in the Australian Stock Exchange (ASE: TLG). In March 2015 Talga raised $4.2 million USD in a discounted placement.
Several large and public companies (such as Samsung, Intel, Nokia, IBM and Sony) are involved in graphene research. While their research may be advanced (Samsung holds the largest graphene patents in the world), graphene represents a small portion of their business. Even if graphene fulfills its promise, it's hardly likely to change the company's business and revenues in any major way.
Graphene production equipment
Producing graphene is very challenging, and no one is mass producing the material yet. Some companies, however, offer some tools used in the manufacturing process, and these companies may enjoy a sales boom if/when graphene takes off. But remember that graphene producing equipment represents just one segment of these company's business.
Aixtron AG is a provider of deposition equipment to the semiconductor industry who offers the BM Pro systems (previously called Black Magic systems). BM Pro systems can be used to deposit graphene using both chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). Aixtron trades in the NASDAQ (ticker:AIXG).
CVD Equipment Corporation (a US-based company) offers a variety of process and support equipment for both R&D and production facilities. CVD Equipment also has a wholly-owned subsidiary called CVD Materials Corporation that manufactures and sells nanomaterials, including several graphene materials
CVD Equipment trades in the NASDAQ (ticker: CVV).
Graphite mining companies
Our next suggestion is to invest in companies involved with Graphite - which is actually a stake of graphene sheets. Graphite is used today in many applications and is already a big market. Some of these companies are also eyeing graphene - planning to start graphene production or investing in graphene related companies. Here are some graphite related companies that has some direct ties to graphene as well:
Bora Bora Resources (based in Australia) is a graphite exploration company with a suite of high grade graphite projects in Sri Lanka. BBR is collaborating with Monash University on a graphene project. BBR is a public company, trading in the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX: BBR).
Focus Graphite (based in Canada) is a mid-tier junior graphite mine developer and technology developer company. Focus Graphite owns the highest-grade (roughly 16%) technology graphite resource in the world (at Lac Knife in Quebec). The company owns 40% of Graphene startup Grafoid (these two companies are also collaborating on R&D). Focus Graphite trades in the Canadian market and in the OTC market (ticker: FCSMF).
Mason Graphite (based in Canada) is a Canadian mining company focused on the exploration and development of its 100% owned Lac Gueret graphite project in northeastern Quebec. In January 2014, Mason Graphite acquired 40% of graphene R&D company NanoXplore. Mason Graphite trades in the Toronto stock exchange (ticker: LLG).
Lomiko Metals: an exploration-stage Canadian company that aims to acquire and develop mineral resources in Canada. It primarily explores graphite, zinc and gold. Lomiko owns several resource properties containing high-grade graphite, and the company has signed a strategic alliance with Graphene Labs to co-develop a vertically integrated graphene supply chain, holds 15% in Graphene 3D Labs, and it also plans to establish a graphene R&D department. Lomiko Metals is a public company, trading in the TSX (ticker: LMR.V).
Elcora Resources: Based on Canada, Elcora aims to become a vertically integrated carbon company - from graphite mining to graphene production. The company has full operational control and a 40% equity interest in Sakura graphite Mine in Sri Lanka.
Elcora Resources is a public company that trades in the Toronto stock exchange (TSXV: ERA)
GrafTech International is a global company with more than 120 years of experience in the carbon and graphite industry. GrafTech makes an expanded natural graphite foil that keeps most of graphene's properties (thermal, electrical, and possibly acoustic). The company says that their graphite-foil is used in many devices, including the iPhone and Samsung's new TVs. The company is public and trades in the NYSE (ticker: GTI).
American Graphite Technologies (AGT) is a mineral exploration and technology development company. AGT has 100% ownership of 100 mineral claims in Quebec, Canada (close by to Focus Graphite's proven graphite resource). AGT is also involved with graphene related technologies and is partnering with Cheap Tubes. AGT is trading in the NASDAQ (OTCBB: AGIN).
Our final graphite company is Carbon Graphite Group, based in Chengguan Town (Xinghe). CCG manufactures and sells graphite-based products in China. CCG's products include graphite electrodes, fine grain graphite blocks and high purity graphite. CCG is also active with graphene technology research. CCG is trading in the NASDAQ's OTC market (ticker: CHGI).
Another possibility to invest in graphene is buy shares in a company that owns or holds a stake in a graphene company. One such possibility is POSCO, a public company (NYSE:PKX) that holds 20% of XG Sciences, a US based company that develops and markets xGnP - Graphene Nanoplatelets (flakes). xGnP can be used to replace carbon nanotubes - at a lower cost. We interviewed the company's CEO in July 2013 and he explains more about the company's technology and business.
As we mentioned before, Focus Graphite owns 40% of graphene developer Grafoid, and it trades in the OTC market (ticker: FCSMF).
Graphene Nanochem is a UK based company that holds the exclusive license to a process known as Catalyx which uses a catalyst to extract graphene from biogases (such as methane). This process can potentially mean low-cost graphene production. They are also developing graphene-enhanced lubricants for used in the extraction of shale gas. The company main asset is the Malaysian specialty chemicals group Platinum Nanochem. Graphene Nanochem is trading in the UK's AIM (ticker:GRPH).
Valence Industries is an Australian industrial manufacturing company that produces high grade flake graphite products. In March 2014 Valence launched the Graphene Research Centre in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, with hopes to start initial graphene product sales in the first half of 2014. Valence is a public company that trades in Australia (ASX:VXL).
Strategic Energy Resources (SER) is an Australian based explorer with a diversified portfolio of mineral assets. In May 2014 the company announced it is resolved to focus on graphene related investments. The company holds a stake in Valence Industries, also involved with graphene. SER is a public company, trading in the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:SER).
Sunvault Energy is a Canadian-based company that develops renewable energy solutions. The company is developing graphene-based supercapacitor technology for use in solar cell arrays. In November 2015 Sunvault announced that is has completed the development of a graphene-enhanced smartphone battery case that uses the company's supercapacitor technology, and aims to crowd-fund this project.