Orlando Business Journal, July 11, 2013.
Written by Aboraham Aboraya
Come Aug. 1, Garmor Inc. will begin production of a new nano material that could help strengthen manufacturing. Garmor Inc., based in Orlando, is licensing technology developed by University of Central Florida NanoScience Technology Center chemist Richard Blair. The new product? Graphene, described as a “wonder material.”
Discovered in 2010, Graphene is a derivative of graphite just one atom thick, can be added to rubbers, plastics and metal to make the materials lighter and stronger. It also is a conductor of electricity.
The cost, though — $200,000 to create a kilogram of the material using older techniques — hindered commercial use, as well as creating toxic chemical byproducts.
However, Blair’s technique can create graphene cheaply and with one byproduct: water. “We can produce it at a level that is attractive to commercial buyers; it’s a price point industry is willing to pay,” Blair said. “It can improve the strength and reduce the weight of a lot of material.”
The Garmor facility, by the airport, will have the capacity to create 10 to 20 kilogram batches of graphene, or one to two metric tons of the substance per year. It can be sold suspended in liquid, looking like black coffee, or in cake form.
Garmor is partially funded with a $300,000 loan from the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research’s Seed Capital Accelerator Program. Jane Teague, chief operating officer for that nonprofit, said the management team at Garmor is strong.
“We, of course, look at the technology but we’re focused on the company’s potential and leadership and where they’re wanting to go as a company,” Teague said. “They have great potential and an outstanding team and they’re following through.”
Another advantage for graphene? Reduced shipping costs for companies, said Anastasia Canavan, Garmor CEO, in a release.
“Using graphene as an additive for plastics and metals enables stronger, light-weight composite materials with potentially endless applications,” Canavan said in a release. “In the energy-conscious world in which we live, everyone is looking to lower their supply-chain costs.”