Researchers from Flinders University and First Graphite plan to use a machine called Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD) to produce high-quality graphene for industrial use. Based on previous graphite research involving the VFD, First Graphite plans to scale up the process to a commercial level with the potential of delivering high-value carbon materials to global markets.
The VFD was used to demonstrate unboiling an egg, and has also been used to slice carbon nanotubes accurately to an average length of 170 nanometres using only water, a solvent and a laser. It is now being tested to prove its potential as a commercially viable graphene producer.VFD creator and professor of clean technology at Flinders University said conventional methods use harsh chemicals, which generated defects and change the properties of the graphite. "An environmentally safe process of producing the graphene opens up more applications for it – it also makes it a cheaper option because you eliminate waste."
The Vortex Fluidic Device that will be used to manufacture the graphene sheets is a suitcase-sized piece of equipment that applies very high sheer forces to liquids fed into the system through spinning a tube at high velocity. "The VFD would cut through the graphite with precision and could be scaled up by aligning a row of machines parallel to each other or creating a larger device."
First Graphite aims to develop an underground mining operation in Sri Lanka to extract high-grade, crystalline vein graphite and plans to use the VFD to help extract high-value graphene.