Orbex secures $24 million funding for its graphene-enhanced rocket

Orbex, a UK-based private, low-cost orbital launch services company, recently reported that it has secured $24 million in a funding round led by BGF (London) and Octopus Ventures (London). At the beginning of 2020, Orbex developed what it calls an "advanced, low carbon, high performance micro-launch" rocket called "Orbex Prime".

Orbex develops graphene-enhanced rocket image

The new investments secure the roadmap to the first launch of Orbex’s vertical launch vehicle, Orbex Prime, from the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport in Scotland. Incorporating a wide range of advanced materials for its development, the launch vehicle boasts a 3D-printed rocket engine manufactured in a single piece without joins in partnership with additive manufacturer SLM Solutions (Lübeck, Germany). The vehicle is also built out of graphene-enhanced carbon fiber composites for the main structures and tanks.

Paragraf, Rolls-Royce, TT Electronics and the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult join to establish a first-ever supply chain for graphene Hall Effect sensors

Paragraf, UK-based graphene electronic sensors and devices company, announced that it is helping to realize an industry first by implementing a supply chain for graphene Hall-Effect sensors used in high-temperature Power Electronics, Electric Machines and Drives (PEMD) within the aerospace sector.

Paragraf graphene Hall Effect sensors image

Named High-T Hall, the project stems from the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) ‘Driving the Electric Revolution’ challenge and brings together Paragraf, Rolls-Royce, TT Electronics (Aero Stanrew) and the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult (CSA Catapult). It is set to demonstrate how graphene-based Hall Effect sensors can operate reliably at high temperatures, paving the way for more efficient electric engines in aerospace and beyond.

EU-funded ATTRACT consortium presents its support of several graphene projects

The MULTIMAL research project is developing a small device that can be used to rapidly identify malaria parasites using saliva samples, without the need for lab equipment. MULTIMAL is one of eight projects exploring new uses for graphene with support from ATTRACT, a €20 million EU-funded, CERN-led consortium, which has awarded 170 grants worth €100,000 each for one-year proof-of-concept technology projects.

Today’s portable malaria testing kits are “just above flipping a coin,” because they are right only 60 percent of the time, says MULTIMAL principal investigator Jérôme Bôrme. The disease, which the World Health Organisation says killed 435,000 people in 2017 (nearly all of them in Africa), is caused by five species of parasite that can be easily identified in a lab. But treating the disease in remote towns and villages is difficult because of the lack of reliable portable testing kits, explains Bôrme, MULTIMAL’s principal investigator and staff researcher at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory in Portugal, which runs MULTIMAL in collaboration with the University of Minho.

Graphene-enhanced carbon fiber could lead to affordable, stronger aerospace and automotive materials

A research team, which includes researchers from Penn State, the University of Virginia and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in collaboration with industry partners Solvay and Oshkosh, has found that adding small amounts of graphene to the production process of carbon fibers - which are typically expensive to make - both reduces the production cost and strengthens the fibers and so could one day lead to using these lightweight, high-strength materials to improve safety and reduce the cost of producing planes and cars.

For decades, carbon fibers have been a mainstay of airplane production. If created in the right way, these long strands of carbon-based atoms are lightweight, stiff and strong. "Even though carbon fibers have really nice features, they would make a car far more expensive" with the way carbon fibers are manufactured now, said Adri van Duin, professor of mechanical and chemical engineering, Penn State. "If you can get these properties easier to manufacture then you can make cars significantly lighter, lower the cost of them and make them safer."

Researchers demonstrate the laser-propulsion of graphene sails in microgravity

ESA-backed researchers from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and SCALE Nanotech in Estonia have demonstrated the laser-propulsion of graphene sails in microgravity.

As demonstrated first by JAXA's mission IKAROS (2010) and recently by The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 (2019), using light sails as propulsion system is among the most promising ideas to enable fast and affordable space trips. Not only sails do not require fuel to move, but they save its corresponding costly weight and that of its containing tanks.