A professor at the University of Guelph in Canada is receiving $1.4 million CAD (a little over $1 million USD) over the next seven years toward his research, which includes developing practical graphene applications. Prof. Aichen Chen was recently named as a tier-1 Canada Research Chair in electrochemistry and nanoscience, a title that came with the $1.4 million in funding.

For the past five years, Chen has been working with graphene — aiming to use it to create innovative green technologies for projects like energy storage and clean drinking water.

Research into graphene is being done around the world, but the University of Guelph has access to what it considers as a unique deposit of graphite in northern Ontario, identified by Zenyatta Graphene Solutions. The company has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the First Nation to extract the graphite, said Dr. Colin van der Kuur, research catalyst for Zenyatta. “There’s going to be an industrial explosion within the next couple of years — the next five to 10 years it’s going to be huge,” said Van der Kuur.

He also said that the company’s deposit is about the size of two CN Towers and is unique. “Basically, a volcano burped but didn’t erupt. So underground the CO2 and methane came together and formed very small graphite crystals, very pure, within the igneous rock itself,” he said.

Zenyatta is partnering with U of G, and providing samples of the graphite for the university’s research.

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