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Graphene dilemma in China: it is difficult to sell products with empty capacity

graphene dilemma in China: it is difficult to sell products with empty capacity

September 23, 2016

[China paint information]

as the most disruptive new material in the 21st century, graphene has become a hot pursuit in the scientific and technological circles and capital circles since its birth. 13. Relative error of beam speed: ± 1% of the set value, And it carries as much praise as controversy

graphene is a two-dimensional crystal composed of carbon atoms with only one atomic layer thickness. As the only two-dimensional carbon material, the particularity of its structure also makes it show advantages in performance that other carbon materials do not have - high strength, strong toughness, high light transmittance, light weight, good conductivity and excellent thermal conductivity

difficulty in manufacturing

according to Ding Guqiao, a researcher at the Shanghai Institute of Microsystems, Chinese Academy of Sciences (hereinafter referred to as "the Institute"), the excellent performance brought by the unique structure has also become a limiting factor for the popularity of graphene materials to some extent. "In terms of material structure, two-dimensional materials composed of a single layer of carbon atoms cannot be used alone, and graphene itself is saturated with chemical bonds, which makes it difficult to composite with other materials." Ding Guqiao told China business news

Ding Guqiao's research group has been conducting basic scientific research on graphene materials since 2009, constantly pursuing more environmentally friendly, high-quality and large-scale graphene material preparation technology. It is gradually developing from the commonly used strong oxidation technology to the mechanical shear stripping technology that uses less or no strong acid and strong oxidant

this stripping process is the same as the method that physicists Andre Heim and Konstantin Novoselov of the University of Manchester in England first separated graphene from graphite materials, that is, using the relatively weak bonding force between each atomic layer, stick both sides of the graphite sheet layer with transparent tape, paste and tear it repeatedly, until graphene with only one atomic thickness is obtained

although the seemingly simple extraction method can obtain high-quality graphene, the size of graphene can only rely on luck and it is difficult to achieve mass production, because 3million layers of graphene can be stripped out from a 1mm thick graphite sheet. In addition, there are oxidation-reduction method, chemical vapor deposition method, ultrasonic stripping method, etc

"most graphene prepared by chemical methods is not pure graphene. Its essence is multilayer graphite accumulation, and the product quality cannot be guaranteed; the preparation of graphene film by chemical vapor deposition has high cost and low yield, making it difficult to carry out mass production." Dr. Wang Xin, global partner of frost Sullivan and President of Greater China, told China business

at present, there are two main forms of graphene, one is graphene film, and the other is graphene powder similar to carbon black. Their application directions are also different. Graphene in film form can be produced on a large scale, including Chongqing mohi Technology Co., Ltd., Changzhou 2D carbon, Wuxi Gefei and other companies

but graphene powder is the most controversial field. Some companies and institutions confuse single-layer and multi-layer, and graphene microchips or graphene nanosheets with a thickness of far more than 10 atomic layers are also called graphene. "At present, many domestic companies claim to be able to produce 100 tons, 500 tons or even thousands of tons, exaggerating that the composition is relatively large, and most of them are not real graphene, so it is difficult for non professionals to distinguish." Ding Guqiao said

scientific research and industry are not effectively connected

at present, there are more than 100 graphene production enterprises in China, especially in Changzhou, Qingdao, Chongqing, Wuxi, Shenzhen and other places. However, unlike large overseas companies such as Samsung, IBM, Nokia, Intel and Dow Chemical, which promote industrial applications, graphene production in China is mostly concentrated in small and medium-sized companies, with less participation of large enterprises

but in terms of scientific research, China is in the leading position in the world in graphene research. According to the people's Republic of China, it is necessary to include terminal clamps (to meet our use of terminal situations ot/dbv/xpress terminals); According to the data of the State Intellectual Property Office and wind database, the number of patent applications in China reached 7925 in 2015, ranking first in the world. From the perspective of patent layout, enterprises and schools account for more than 80%, companies account for less than schools, and the acceleration of industrialization is limited

according to Wang Xin's observation, "although China has a large number of scientific researchers and achievements, there are still few high-end original scientific research achievements, most of which adopt tracking research methods, and there are relatively few major innovations. The research achievements are still mainly concentrated in the field of basic research, and the high-end application technology is still relatively weak."

the sales volume of empty capacity is low

what is more noteworthy is that the downstream of the industrial chain has not been formed due to the difficulty of application technology breakthrough. Many companies that claim to be able to produce hundreds of tons of graphene have empty capacity, but it is difficult to sell products

at present, there are only a few graphene companies that can produce large-scale graphene in China. After consulting the official public information, for example, Changzhou sixth element material technology Co., Ltd. announced that an automatic production line with an annual output of 100 tons of graphene oxide (graphene) was put into operation in November 2013, and it is estimated that it can produce 1000 tons of powdered graphene in 2016, with a sales revenue of more than 600million yuan

however, according to the mid-2016 performance report, the net profit in the first half of 2016 was -13.6727 million yuan, a decrease of 38.83% over the same period last year. The revenue of graphene powder increased by about 1227100 yuan, and the revenue of touch sensor increased by 3227700 yuan. Although the downstream market application of the product was gradually opened, the sales were far from expected. The net profit of Changzhou two-dimensional carbon materials was -5.214 million yuan, and the detailed profit of Qingdao sinomerene was -2.838 million yuan

there is empty production capacity and a lot of money is invested in equipment and personnel, but it is difficult to sell products, which has become an embarrassing situation in China's graphene production. Due to the lack of downstream demand, most graphene enterprises are still unable to find a stable business model and profit model

in the view of graphene industry experts, although the enthusiasm of downstream manufacturers for the application of graphene has increased significantly since 2015, most downstream entrepreneurs in the market are still conceptual about graphene and do not know how to use it

"many enterprises do not change the processing technology according to the product characteristics after purchasing graphene materials and other related products. In this case, even if the quality of graphene materials is high, it is difficult to give full play to its advantages, resulting in the phenomenon of 'good materials, bad use' repeatedly." Wang Xin said

in addition, the transition period from new materials to new products is long, and downstream enterprises must ensure the stability of products added with graphene materials. Take the battery manufacturer for example. It takes about 3 months for a batch of products to produce the test results. For the same product, 5-6 batches of stability tests should be done to determine its stability and decide whether to import it

"the high cost of graphene and incompatibility of process characteristics in lithium batteries make the technology of 'graphene battery' close to nonexistence." Wang Xin said frankly

in addition, some enterprises' shoddy products are not wanted and are fooled everywhere, which makes the market's understanding of graphene vague. When immature products are blindly launched, pulling the pull plate of the machine head out about 2cm to the market will carry great potential risks. Similarly, taking battery production as an example, how to use safety still needs continuous testing

industrialization path

in terms of graphene industrialization, the driving force of large foreign companies is particularly obvious. Taking South Korea as an example, because graphene has significant application prospects in Samsung's main business areas, it attaches great importance to the research and application of graphene. It has not only established its own research and development center, but also cooperated with South Korea's sungkyunkuan University, and accumulated a large number of graphene related technology patents

with IBM, Intel, Boeing and other large companies in the United States, the favorable entrepreneurial environment has spawned many small graphene enterprises, forming a relatively complete industrial chain, covering all links from preparation and application research to graphene product production to downstream application, accelerating the industrialization and application process of graphene, and diversifying the industrial layout

in China, the development mode of "enterprise + R & D institution + Incubator + accelerator" is still in its infancy, and the technical route and Industrialization Route of graphene industrialization, as well as the stage objectives, key tasks and major projects of industrial development still need to be further clarified

downstream applications are fed back to scientific research. What performance products do downstream applications need, what price they can accept, and what fields they want to apply to, so that scientific research institutions can carry out research and development more targeted

"only with the support of downstream application demand, the graphene industry can truly radiate vitality and sustainability." Wang Xin said

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