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Graphene-enhanced composites in the works

Haydale Composite Solutions (HCS) has signed a letter of intent as an initial step of a joint development and commercialization deal with Huntsman Advanced Materials (Switzerland) GmbH to work on the application of graphene and other nano particle products in thermoset composite resin systems based on epoxy.

Pursuant to the agreement, Haydale will functionalize Graphene Nano Platelets (GNPs) utilizing its proprietary HDPlas process and add them to Huntsman's Araldite epoxy resins to create highly loaded masterbatches. The ultimate objective of the collaboration will be to commercialize graphene-enhanced Araldite  resins for a range of applications in the composites market.

Graphene nanoplatelets may one day find extensive use in thermoset composite pipes.

Gerry Boyce Managing Director of HCS said: "We are highly excited about working with a world leading resins company and to developing markets and applications for these new graphene enhanced Araldite  resins. We see graphene-enhanced resins and their use in composite materials as being a revolution. This work opens up the potential for a whole new range of advanced composite materials and products with enhanced performance and lower cost."

Research at the Cardiff School of Engineering has highlighted that Haydale functionalised GNP-reinforced composites realized a 50% increase in compression after impact (CAI) strength. In-plane shear strength was also improved by up to 60%, highlighting the strengthening and toughening.

David Hatrick, European Technology Director at Huntsman Advanced Materials said: "We are pleased to be working closely with HCS on this exciting opportunity. The combination of HCS's expertise in functionalized GNPs and our capabilities in epoxy chemistry should create multiple new opportunities to meet the needs of the growing composites market."

Ray Gibbs, Haydale Chief Executive, added: "We have identified the composites market as a strategic sector for our functionalized graphene and other nano materials with HCS being a fundamental route to market for our plasma functionalized materials. This agreement represents a major opportunity to work with a global partner to develop a whole new range of formulated resins with enhanced properties which they can sell into the composites' market across the world."

Parent company Haydale has developed a patent pending proprietary scalable plasma process to functionalise graphene and other nanomaterials. This enabling technology can provide a rapid and highly cost efficient method of supplying tailored solutions to enhance applications for both raw material suppliers and product manufacturers. Functionalization is carried out through a low pressure plasma process that treats both organic mined fine powder and other synthetically produced nanomaterial powders producing high quality few layered graphenes and graphene nano platelets.

The process can functionalize with a range of chemical groups, where the amount of chemicals can be tailored to the customer needs. Good dispersion improves the properties and performance of the host material and ensures it delivers as specified. The Haydale plasma process does not use wet chemistry, neither does it damage the material being processed, rather it can clean up impurities inherent in the raw material. The technology is reported to be a low energy user and most importantly environmentally friendly. The Haydale method is an enabling technology where working with a raw material producer can add value to the base product and tailor the outputs to meet the target applications of the end user.

Haydale, based in South Wales, housed in a purpose built facility for processing and handling nanomaterials with a laboratory facility, is facilitating the application of graphenes and other nanomaterials in fields such as inks, sensors, energy storage, photovoltaics, composites, paints and coatings.

HCS is a composite R&D and testing house, based in Loughborough, UK. HCS customers include significant corporations such as National Grid, SSE, Eirgrid, Chevron, Anglian Water, Severn Trent Water, Yorkshire Water, and 3M. HCS is focused on a range of market sectors including pipe lining for the oil, gas and water industries, infrastructure for electricity and energy sectors plus the marine and transportation markets.

HCS competence spans the entire development cycle from applied research, product design, process development, product testing, and certification, to setting up manufacturing plants. HCS also works with OEMs and end-users to develop and provide composite solutions with demonstrable clear technical, economic and environmental benefits over existing structures currently manufactured in traditional materials such as steel, aluminium, wood or concrete.

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