Graphene Increases Plastic Performance While Reducing Raw Material Usage By As Much As 30%
São Paulo (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) - Gerdau Graphene, the nanotechnology company pioneering advanced graphene-enhanced materials for industrial applications, announced that it has created next-generation graphene-enhanced plastics at a Brazilian government-funded advanced materials center in São Paulo. The new graphene-enhanced polymeric resin masterbatches formulas for polyethylene (PP) and polypropylene (PE) were created in partnership with Brazil's EMBRAPII SENAI/SP Advanced Materials Unit, and are being piloted in a series of industrial applications within Gerdau's factories. The new thermoplastic products created using these formulas will be stronger and offer greater overall performance while costing less to manufacture and producing significantly less waste across the value chain. The first commercial deliveries are expected in June.
Graphene, considered to be the strongest material on Earth, is a one to ten atom-thick sheet of densely-compacted carbon that can be modified for various uses and added to industrial materials. Since its discovery in 2004, Graphene's extraordinary chemical, physical, electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties have captivated the world and led to its inventors winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Graphene can be mixed with plastics, lending its incredible strength to the plastic matrix and making the combined plastic material much stronger. In addition to improving physical and mechanical properties, graphene also increases barrier properties against liquids and gasses; protection from weathering, oxidation, and UV light; and an increase in electrical and thermal conductivity.
Gerdau Graphene is developing graphene additives for virgin resins as well as post-industrial and post-consumer recycled plastics and polymers, including PP, PE, polystyrene (PS), polycarbonate (PC), PVC, and more. Every year, the United States produces about 8 million tons of PP and 23 million tons of PE. Reducing the amount of raw PP and PE needed to create final plastic products by 30% could save as much as 9.3 million tons of PP and PE plastic from being consumed and ultimately discarded.
"Plastic is a critical life-saving material that is now used in almost all products in every industry around the world — and its invention has radically transformed how humans live. The biggest challenge we face is how to make plastics better by improving its material qualities, reducing costs, and increasing sustainability throughout its lifecycle. We are now addressing all of these goals," said Alexandre Corrêa, CEO of Gerdau Graphene. "By adding specialized graphene additives to thermoplastic recipes, plastic producers can create stronger, more durable plastic products at a fraction of the cost and with far less petroleum and fewer raw materials needed. Because less plastic is needed for final products, less plastic becomes post-consumer waste. There are also downstream effects, including reductions in manufacturing waste, energy consumption, transportation, and more. And, circularly, plastics in the near future may be recycled into graphene and then reused."
"Gerdau Graphene and SENAI are involved in this project to leverage the use of graphene in Brazilian industry, increasing its level of competitiveness in the face of opportunities arising from this global macrotrend," Gustavo Spina Gaudencio de Almeida, Technology Coordinator at Instituto SENAI Innovation in Advanced Materials and Nanocomposites. "The partnership signed at the end of 2021 provides a great opportunity to develop new materials, specifically masterbatches for use in polymers of great industrial application, highlighting the relevance of graphene to the market."
About Gerdau Graphene
Gerdau Graphene is a nanotech company focused on the production, development, and commercialization of graphene-enhanced chemical and mineral additives and masterbatches for the application in products including polymers, paints, coatings, rubber, and more. Launched in 2021 by Gerdau, the largest producer of long steel in the Americas, through its Gerdau Next program, Gerdau Graphene enables businesses to harness the revolutionary properties of graphene to deliver industry-leading products. To learn more, please visit gerdaugraphene.com.
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