A graphene industry, market and new conference series interview with Dr. Khasha Ghaffarzadeh

Our friend Dr. Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, a well respected graphene market analyst, is launching a new service called TechBlick that is a subscription-based online and all-year round event focused on advanced materials such as graphene, 2D materials, CNTs, boron nitrides, QDs, and more.

Graphene-Info partnered with TechBlick, to provide our readers an exclusive 25% discount on the TechBlick subscription. We took advantage of this launch to discuss the graphene market and industry with Dr. Ghaffarzadeh and also discuss the new service.

Hello Kasha. How do you see the graphene market shaping up in 2021?

I have closely followed and examined the graphene industry for a full decade. The landscape has certainly changed. Many companies have come and gone, and many once considered revolutionary applications are now ruled out, but overall, the industry is now at a tipping point.

We think 2021/2022 will be a turning point, setting the industry on its growth path, despite the delays caused these past 12 months due to Covid. For some, these delays have been painful as projects were pushed back or partners or customers dropped graphene to focus on other core areas. Many undershot their growth expectations, and some had difficult cash flow situations.

Why do we think that the tipping point is upon us? Because all the ingredients are finally in place. Graphene is increasingly available. The amount of operational capacity is not clear, but there was at least over 2500 tpa of announced capacity by the end of 2019, and there were plans to hugely expand capacity by several thousand tpa, with much of that coming outside China.

Graphene is also more affordable. Last year the average price was probably around 100-120 $/Kg but some are now pushing it down. This is all a far cry from the early days when graphene was several thousands per Kg. For some graphene types, a price target of 25 $/Kg is publicly announced. This would push that type of graphene into the so-called ‘active carbon plus category’, where volumes can be very large.

There is a much stronger end-user know-how compared to the early days, indeed there are already application success story. In fact, knowing which applications make sense and which don’t is no easy feat, and has taken years of trial and error by the community.

By the way, we didn’t get here overnight, but it has taken well over a decade of global effort. Still, I believe we are at the beginning of the beginning of the graphene commercialization journey. This process will unfold over multiple decades to come until graphene becomes widespread.

Q: Which graphene applications do you find to be the most active?

One trend during Covid has been that many offered graphene-coated masks, seeking to catch the wave and to highlight the barrier properties of graphene.

In general, though, a range of applications have become commercially very interesting, even in the short term.

Thermal applications have found success, especially as heat spreaders in smart phones. Graphene-enhanced composites have also found success, in under-the-hood vehicle applications as well as in polyurethane-based wear lines, shoes, etc. Anti-corrosion coatings are making good progress. Battery and supercapacitors remain promising and indeed growing markets.

Interestingly, there is progress in textile-based printing, for heat management, lubricants, etc
We are organising an event on commercialization of graphene on 10-11 March 2021. Here, we have picked some of the leading firms, each representing an interesting application. For example, you will hear from Thales, BASF, Qenos, NanoXplore, Cabot, Gerdau, Graphene Manufacturing Group, Raymor Industries/PPG, Sixth Element, and many others.

By the way, I am delighted to say that Graphene-Info is a close affiliate of TechBlick and that we are offering a special 25% discount for the readers of Graphene-Info.

Q: Are there regional differences in graphene commercialization?

There certainly are some regional differences. In particular, it is interesting how much activity is going on in China. I highlight this point because it is often neglected due to lack of visibility and knowledge, but it is very important.

Indeed, to bring this to the fore, and to promote further engagement with the Chinese graphene community, we have worked with China Innovation Alliance of the Graphene Industry (CGIA) to organize a ‘Graphene Commercialization in China’ session during the event. The speakers in this session, all in English, include: Tungshu Optoelectronic, Sixth Element, CGIA, Leader Nano, Shandon Zhonglv Carbon Materials, Hangzhou Gaoxi Technology, Xi’an Tang Dynasty, Shaanxi Huaqing Yifeng New Material, and Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology.

Q: The focus is usually on graphene powders. What about other forms of graphene like CVD or wafer based?

I am glad you bring this up. I see a significant spike in interest in wafer- and/or CVD based graphene. In fact, with powders, the value proposition of graphene as additive is often incremental, but graphene can be an enabler in some of these CVD- and wafer- based applications.

The applications can be in bio, SWIR/MWIR, or neutral sensing, for example. Here, the high surface area of graphene can lead to excellent sensitivity, especially if the graphene is used in a FET structure.

Some are even taking a foundry or pilot production line approach, which is a welcome turning point for the ecosystem and for the development of non-powder graphene- or 2D material-based applications.

Graphenea announces an upgrade to foundry service image

In our online but live conference, you will hear from the likes of VTT, Emberion, Grapheal, Graphenea, Cardea, InBrain Neuroelectronics, and more. All these are developing and commercializing non-powder applications of graphene.

What about the start-up scene? We had seen a mushrooming of start-up formations in the early years, but is the trend continuing?

Yes! Multiple new companies are being formed every year. Some are innovating in production processes, seeking to increase yield of production, especially for true graphene-like materials. Others are focusing on application development, expanding the entire graphene ecosystem. The latter trend is very welcome, and will further help bring graphene to the market.

Our programme highlights some start-ups or relatively young firms. For example, you can hear from Sixonia, Quantag, 2DM, Nanoplexus, Graphene Pioneers, and others.

We are still developing this part of the programme so if you are a start-up and wish to join our speaker programme, please reach out to me at khasha@TechBlick.com and we will consider you.

I want to discuss the new business venture, TechBlick. Can you explain it in more details?

The TechBlick team is highly experienced with over a decade of global experience either in analysing graphene and CNT markets or in organizing the leading global conferences and exhibitions in the field.

We offer all-year-around live but online events on emerging technologies including advanced materials. Each year TechBlick will bring 450-500 LIVE online presentations, handpicked by its analysts and advisors.

These talks will be organized as a series of major LIVE but online conferences at approximately 6-week intervals. Each major conference will consist of 80+ speakers organized as three or four parallel LIVE sessions. With a single annual pass you will have access to all of it.

Q: What can people expect from these virtual events?

Our events will be LIVE, meaning that the speakers will be there and delivering the content in real-time from their own location. The talks will not be pre-recorded unless there is a major time zone clash. Of course, the content will also be available on-demand after the broadcast should you miss a talk.

Our events take place in our community-centric fully integrated platform which brings together the agenda, the streaming, the on-demand, the booths, the attendee-to-exhibitor video links, and, crucially, the community together in one easy-to-use online platform which is accessible anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

And you can use the platform to search the entire community, finding the right contact and reaching out to him/her directly. This is a major advantage over physical networking because you can really access the entire audience, thus your networking is targeted and amplified at the same time.

Our pricing model is unique: with a single pass you will have annul access to all the LIVE and the on-demand content as well as our masterclasses, networking platform, etc.

The first event, scheduled for March 10, is focused on graphene materials (and other technologies). Do you have an agenda for that event? What kind of topics will be covered?

Yes, the first of our event series will be on 10-11 March 2021. You can see our speaker line-up here www.TechBlick.com/speakers. Once again, I remind the audience to reach out to Graphene-Info to receive their special discounts!

Thank you Khasha, good luck with your new venture and we are looking forward for the first graphene event in March!

Posted: Jan 12,2021 by Ron Mertens