Group NanoXplore is a Montreal-based company specializing in the production and application of graphene and its derivative materials. The company's CEO and President, Dr. Soroush Nazarpour, was kind enough to answer a few questions we had regarding NanoXplore's technology and business.
Q: Hello Dr. Soroush. Can you update us on your current graphene material production and your new 3-ton GNP production facility?
Our Montreal production facility is running at full steam. Not only are we producing a full range of graphene materials, we are making more and more graphene-enhanced polymer products. In October we will be moving to a new facility, having outgrown our current space. The new facility will double our lab facilities and more than quadruple our production floor space.
We are seeing especially strong demand for graphene-enhanced plastics and rubber, with most customers focusing on improving mechanical and thermal characteristics. We have also seen a lot of emerging demand for coatings for textiles and other flexible substrates for thermal management, improved surface properties and protection.
Q: In June you established your new European subsidiary. What are your thoughts on the European graphene market?
Europe is doing very good work on both the science and commercialization of graphene. Graphene was first discovered in Europe and the community has invested a lot in the Graphene Flagship and other programs to facilitate commercialization. As graphene moves from the lab to industrial applications, Europe’s mix of world class applied research and engineering institutions, strong manufacturing presence across a wide range industries which may potentially benefit from graphene, and a well-integrated supply chain for target industries such as automotive, aerospace, and polymers, is unique.
This is an excellent environment for learning, innovating and developing profitable graphene businesses.
Q: In February, you raised $2.18 million. Can you tell us anything regarding your financial status and revenues?
The financing enabled us to work closely with a large number of customers and build up the sales pipeline. This year we have seen growing revenue from product sales, licensing, and applications development, and product sales are expected to grow even more significantly in 2016. Revenue is building nicely.
Q: It seems that most analysts are not very optimistic about the future graphene material market. What are you views on that?
A few years ago everyone was focused on consistent, cost effective, and large volume graphene production. Several graphene producers – including NanoXplore – have achieved this goal and some people now seem disappointed that industrial sales have not shot up significantly.
This is based upon a misunderstanding of how industrial supply chains actually operate, especially when adopting new disruptive products. Customers, unlike researchers, are not focused on graphene. They have problems, and need solutions. Graphene and graphene composites can provide these solutions but only if graphene companies can provide significant performance improvements within commercial frameworks that make sense to the customer.
As customers become more familiar with graphene-based solutions, and now that the security of supply issue has been overcome, we believe industrial sales will begin to ramp. At NanoXplore we are seeing this process at work and adoption tipping points in certain industries are visible on the near horizon.
Q: Where do you see graphene making the most impact in the near future?
Plastics and composites. NanoXplore has been able to demonstrate that very small amounts of graphene – often less than 0.1weight% - can significantly improve the properties of plastics and rubbers. These improved properties include mechanical, thermal, electrical and surface properties.
For example, we have added 0.075 wt% graphene to PLA and increased thermal conductivity by 5 times with no increase in electrical conductivity. This has been very interesting to electronic/electrical industry customers.
Q: What are the applications that excite you the most, personally?
Polymers for 3D printing. Graphene is a great additive material for polymers and has significant potential to improve the range of possible products that can be manufactured with 3D printing. Adding graphene to such plastics significantly improves the mechanical characteristics of the printed piece, improves the surface characteristics (durability, water repellency, anti-marking) and can make the final product both electrically and thermally conductive.
Q: NanoXplore recently introduced the Hexo-g brand. What can you tell us about Hexo-g and the reasons for introducing it now?
Hexo-g is the link between customers’ needs and their final application/product. Graphene has a great potential and the next challenge is to transform this potential into effective tailored applications. Hexo-g is a technology platform comprised of high quality graphene and the processes to mix it with a wide range of industrial materials to create innovative and affordable solutions.
Recently we announced that NanoXplore has invested in two innovative graphene applications companies: NanoPhyll, dedicated to improving efficiencies in the photocatalytic and photovoltaic markets through the application of customized graphene and Two Carbon, a materials technology company designing next-generation, high performance outdoor products using graphene as a fundamental building block. After the successful launch of NanoPhyll and Two Carbon, both building their technology solutions based upon the hexo-g platform, it seemed right to roll out the hexo-g brand.
Thanks for your time, Soroush, and good luck to both you and NanoXplore!