Black Swan Graphene and Nationwide Engineering announce strategic partnership to accelerate the adoption of graphene-enhanced concrete globally

Black Swan Graphene and Nationwide Engineering Research and Development (“NERD”) have announced a strategic partnership being embedded in a fully integrated supply chain which will include Arup Group Limited, a multinational engineering consultancy headquartered in London, United Kingdom, with 18,000 experts working across 140 countries.

At the core of the partnership between Black Swan and NERD, is the completion of an equity swap where each company will own approximately five percent (5%) of the outstanding shares of the other, and the execution of a supply agreement between the two companies under which NERD will be sourcing its graphene requirements from Black Swan.


Concurrently with the creation of the partnership between Black Swan and NERD, Arup is expected to enter into a partnership with NERD, pursuant to which it is expected to gain ownership of 4.2% of the outstanding shares of NERD. The partnerships between Black Swan and NERD, and between NERD and Arup, are intended to enhance expertise and create an integrated supply chain aimed at accelerating the adoption of graphene-enhanced concrete globally.

NERD, a spin-out company from Nationwide Engineering Group, has developed a graphene-enhanced admixture for concrete, Concretene, which can significantly increase the strength of the material in mix designs, allowing for cement reduction and lowering of carbon footprint on construction projects. Concretene has demonstrated the ability to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 30%, driven mainly by a significant reduction in the volume of concrete required to achieve equivalent performances. A meaningful reduction, if not an elimination, of rebar requirements, combined with a longer life cycle of the concrete, represent additional cost saving opportunities for the industry. The product has been developed in partnership with The University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (“GEIC”).

NERD is rapidly advancing the adoption of Concretene in conjunction with the GEIC and is in advanced evaluation stage for projects with partners such as Heathrow and Manchester Airports, Network Rail, National Highways, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the United Kingdom.

Black Swan is a producer of low cost and high-performance graphene powders, derived from graphite, ideally suited for the concrete industry. Black Swan’s graphene technology was originally developed by Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd. and advanced internally until the launch of Black Swan in 2021. Black Swan has indicated its intention to significantly increase its graphene production including in the graphite production facility of Nouveau Monde Graphite currently in operation in Quebec, Canada, aiming to create an integrated facility from graphite ore in the ground to graphene finished products.

Dedicated to sustainable development, Arup Group Limited, a global design and engineering firm, has been building, in partnership with the NERD, expertise and know-how on the use of graphene-enhanced concrete in buildings and infrastructure. The agreement with Arup, through Ove Arup Ventures, provides 4.2% equity in NERD in exchange for collaboration and expertise towards global roll-out of the technology. 

Simon Marcotte, Chief Executive Officer of Black Swan Graphene, commented: “The partnerships announced today are poised to have far-reaching implications for the global concrete industry. By leveraging the exceptional performance of the NERD process and Arup's expertise, reach and leadership, this integrated supply chain can provide a turnkey solution and revolutionize the concrete industry on a global scale. Considering that concrete is the second most utilized material on Earth, surpassed only by water, it is difficult to imagine a more exciting opportunity. I am very optimistic about the impact of this collaboration and its potential to catalyze sustainable and innovative practices in the industry.”

Rob Hibberd, Chief Executive Officer of Nationwide Engineering Research & Development, commented: “We are delighted to formalize these partnerships with Black Swan and Arup as part of NERD and we look forward to combining our skillsets to deliver Concretene to the construction industry in our drive to reduce global CO2 emissions. This is further enhanced by our unique long-term research collaboration with the University of Manchester to further understand the complex world of nanomaterial technology. We see Concretene as the first product of many that this partnership will develop, with progress in paints, polymers and asphalt already in advanced stages as well.” 

Matt Lovell, Director at Arup, commented: “Continued innovation in the production of concrete can drive the construction industry’s journey towards net zero carbon emissions. Supporting that transformative change with our NERD partnership furthers Arup’s goal of shaping a better, more sustainable world. We look forward to using our commercial know-how and deep expertise in the built environment to help NERD’s innovators realize the full potential of Concretene.”

Under the Supply Agreement, Black Swan will have the right, and not the obligation, to supply NERD with bulk graphene and NERD will, subject to certain terms of the agreement including pricing mechanism and technical requirements as needed by NERD, purchase bulk graphene from Black Swan in accordance with its needs and the framework of the Supply Agreement, which includes purchase orders, delivery, shipment, and risk management protocols, as well as potential product development and R&D collaboration.

High-magnification study of the finished material shows differing arrangements of crystallisation between standard and graphene-enhanced concretes, with a less porous microstructure evident in the latter. However, making effective graphene-enhanced concrete is technically challenging as, if allowed, graphene agglomerates back into clumps of graphite and loses its strength-giving properties. Not only does Concretene have the ability to disperse evenly in large volumes of concrete, but it also demonstrates stability in solution for storage and transport. Several years of optimization work have been necessary to achieve these unique performances. Until recently, producing graphene at a scale large enough for it to be used in real-world applications has proven challenging. But with graphene suppliers able to produce material in industrial volumes, graphene is becoming a realistic option for commercial scale in construction.

Posted: Mar 28,2023 by Roni Peleg