Battery & Electrification Technology

Controlled Explosions to Efficiently Mass-Produce Graphene


Kansas State University physicists have discovered a way to mass-produce graphene with three ingredients - hydrocarbon gas, oxygen, and a spark plug. Unlike other methods of creating graphene, the new method is simple, efficient, low-cost, and scalable for industry. The method involves filling a chamber with acetylene or ethylene gas and oxygen, using a vehicle spark plug to create a contained detonation, and then collecting the graphene that forms afterward. The energy required to make a gram of graphene through this process is much less than other processes because it only takes a single spark. Other methods of creating graphene involve 'cooking' the mineral graphite with chemicals - such as sulfuric acid or sodium nitrate - for a long time at precisely prescribed temperatures. Additional methods involve heating hydrocarbons to 1,000 degrees Celsius in the presence of catalysts. These methods are energy intensive, potentially dangerous, and have low yield.