Making High Quality and Cheap Graphene Using a Laboratory Blender

Making High Quality and Cheap Graphene Using a Laboratory Blender Scientists have hit upon a method to formulate high quality graphene, the wonder material of the future (and today), on the cheap, and so can you — by using dishwashing detergent and a blender. However, it’s perhaps not best for you to try it out, as it will ruin your blender for the purpose of preparing food. The findings of the researchers who discovered this method of creating high quality graphene sheets were published in the journal Nature Materials, and you can read it in its entirety by clicking on the last source listed below.

Not being able to produce large amounts of high quality graphene cheaply has held back some of the proposed applications for using graphene. This relatively inexpensive method of making it could speed up the plans many people have for using graphene, and bring innovative and useful products to the marketplace quicker and cheaper than ever before. Some potential applications for graphene include using it in solar cells, protective coatings, and in computers.

What about graphene has earned it the title of being a “wonder material”?

Why are many people are calling graphene a “wonder material”? This two-dimensional latticework of graphite hexagons it thin, lightweight, and very strong. A single sheet of graphene can be made that is thinner than a sheet of paper. It also conducts both electricity and heat extremely well, better than copper, and pure graphene is nearly transparent, which means that it could even be used in the manufacture of contact lenses and glasses.

Graphene can also potentially be used in the manufacture of clothing. Just adding a small amount of it to polyester can increase its strength by 50 percent. Creating enough graphene to meet the demands for it, on the cheap, has been holding back its full potential. Researchers have also found it’s been difficult to try to develop spray-on coatings with graphene flakes suspended in the liquid ingredients of the coating.

However, that all could change because of a breakthrough that’s been made by scientists from Trinity College, Dublin. They have hit upon a method of taking graphite powder and placing it into a laboratory blender along with a surfactant mixture. This method enabled them to make high-quality pure graphene sheets in much larger quantities and at a lower cost than other methods that are currently being used.

Previously, the best results that could be obtained at producing graphene were only able of creating one-fiftieth of an ounce per hour. Even at that slow rate of being able to produce graphene, the numerous potential applications of the material soon became more and more obvious.

The laboratory blender method could allow the production rate of making graphene and graphene products to be much more scaled-up. This would lower production costs, and make the process of developing future applications for the “wonder material” cheaper. Also, products made using graphene would become less expensive for consumers to purchase.

Even now, the demand for graphene is steadily getting higher. It will be that much more in demand in the future, though. According to the Irish Times, by 2018 the yearly market for graphene will reach the $100 million level.

Can you make high-quality graphene at home?

You can make graphene yourselves, in the privacy of your own homes, though it’s not recommended that you do so, unless you have an extra blender around that you don’t intend to use in processing food products.

The Trinity College scientists wondered whether they could duplicate the results that they had when they used a laboratory blender if they instead used an ordinary kitchen blender. They tried out the idea, using dishwashing detergent and a kitchen blender.

The scientist discovered that they could get results that were somewhat the same, but what you’d end up with is more of a grayish liquidy goo containing suspended graphene particles in it rather than the creation of sheets of graphene. Also, if you try this out at home, there’s not a way for you to remove from the gloppy mixture any pieces of graphite that weren’t restructured as well as the rest of the graphene you produce.

What’s more, it can be difficult to get the exact proportions of the material that you use right in order to obtain the best end result. Still, using the kitchen blender method, the researchers were able to create about five grams of graphene an hour.

On an industrial level, if a 2,600 gallon tank is used, as much as 3.5 ounces of graphene could be made per hour. That might not sound like very much, but far more graphene can be made using this method than that of any other method tried so far.

The other types of methods of producing graphene sheets have their own flaws. For example, many of the sheets aren’t of the high level of quality that they need to be, and are defective. The Trinity College scientists found a method of creating defect-free graphene sheets, one which might revolutionize the industry.


Written by: Douglas Cobb

Nature Materials “How to Make Graphene in a Kitchen Blender”