TBA Electro Conductive has developed a sprayable conductive coating containing graphene platelets
A Greater Manchester firm is to become one of the first in the world to make a product containing wonder material graphene.
TBA Electro Conductive Products Ltd is ready to go to market with a sprayable transparent conductive coating that could deliver huge cost savings for firms in sectors including food, electronics, pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals.
The home-grown development is being billed as a ‘game changer’ for the commercialisation of graphene, the super thin, ultra strong material created in the labs of Manchester University.
The new ATEX-compliant product is a clear, anti-static aerosol (also available as bulk paint) made of a hybrid of carbon nano tubes (CNTs) and graphene platelets – made from the shattered graphite contained in the CNTs which, applied alone, temper-tangled, creating a mucky appearance on products. Its application will safeguard electronic equipment used in explosive environments and bring it up to European standards.
The company, which employs seven people – a subsidiary of the 150-years-old Turner Brothers group now based on the Transpennine Trading Estate – already has interest both at home and overseas and believes it will add six figures to their annual £1.5m turnover. The first sales are expected within weeks.
The product cost around £2m to develop over two-and-a-half years, with an international consortium, including £830,00 of European Union funding and £50,000 of the company’s cash.
It is expected to sell at £20 to £30 a litre, with capacity to cover at least four square metres, compared to existing clear conductive plastic sheeting priced around £600 for 2x1metre coverage. It has dramatically reduced the conductive element in the firm’s products to just 0.05 per cent, compared to up to 75 per cent in existing solutions.
TBA Electro Conductive’s business manager, Mark Lineker, said: “There are temporary solutions that get through a test but wear off and there are some very expensive solutions. We saw an opportunity to introduce a product, a thin film, that could be sprayed on existing products.
“What we’ve ended up with is a significant development on what was previously available and relatively cheap by comparison. I genuinely hope this will give us more inroads into high tech applications of these types of materials.”
Graphene in its purest, two-dimensional form is still some way from commercialisation and under constant development at Manchester University’s dedicated National Graphene Institute.
Sports firm Head have been among the few international firms to develop commercial uses for forms of the product, in the shape of a tennis racket with a graphene coating used by Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
A spokesman for the NGI said: “It is great news that graphene-related products are now commercially available and that a Greater Manchester company is benefiting from the considerable research that is being undertaken in this area.”