We need planes and cars that are lighter so they burn less fuel, stronger so we’re safer aboard them, and less pollutive to produce. The University of Technology Sydney claims to have an answer in a recent breakthrough in graphene nanotech.
The synthesized graphene paper (GP) samples produced at UTS are composite materials made from graphite (an abundant resource in Australia), which has been milled through a purification process which leaves the base material in nano-structured configurations. The graphene is then stacked in layers to create thin sheets–roughly the same thickness as paper, but with exceptional flexibility, strength and lightness.
According to UTS lead researcher Ali Reza Ranjbartoreh, “Not only is it lighter, stronger, harder and more flexible than steel, it is also a recyclable and sustainable manufacturable product that is eco-friendly and cost effective in its use.”
The properties testing results of University of Technology Sydney’s GP reveal that, compared to steel, graphene paper is one-sixth as heavy, one-fifth as dense, twice as hard, and has ten times the tensile strength and 13 times the bending rigidity.
Other carbon-based technologies are replacing fiber and wires in commercial aircraft at companies like Boeing. The next logical step, says Ranjbartoreh, is to find a way to incorporate graphene paper. “The exceptional mechanical properties of synthesised GP render it a promising material for commercial and engineering applications.”