Advanced engineering group still optimistic for graphene innovation despite slow progress


Versarien plc, the Cheltenham-headquartered advanced engineering materials group which is seeking to commercialise graphene, has issued a trading update. 

The company says that the global development of graphene within applications remains at an early stage, and has warned that there can be no certainty as to when an application development agreement will lead to a financial benefit for the Group.

It says that discussions announced last year with the Beijing Institute of Graphene Technology Co. Ltd (“BIGT”) and the China International Graphene Industry Union (“CIGIU”), together with other related and government entities in China are still ongoing. 

It was initially envisaged that BIGT would take a 15 per cent investment in Versarien’s recently-established wholly-owned subsidiary and other corporate purposes. Versarien now envisages that funding will be provided by other parties in collaboration with BIGT and CIGIU, but says there is no certainty that a formal agreement will be completed  with any party, although Versarien has been advised by BIGT, CIGIU and their affiliates that it remains their intention to facilitate funding for Versarien and for a joint venture to be established.

In 2018, Versarien secured a majority shareholding in nanotechnology company Gnanomat, which continues to develop its energy storage technology in conjunction with other Group companies. Following extensive testing, Gnanomat is in discussions with two supercapacitor manufacturers to introduce the Company’s materials into the electrodes of the manufacturer’s devices. 

Additionally, initial efforts have also been put into different energy storage applications such as metal-air batteries with encouraging results at lab scale. These results have brought metal-air batteries to the attention of a number of manufacturers that are showing interest in collaborating with Gnanomat.

Last November, Versarien signed an agreement with global apparel manufacturer, MAS Innovation (Private) Limited, and have begun discussions with international brands to introduce graphene ink-enhanced materials into new garment ranges to give them enhanced thermal conductivity and wicking properties, as well as impact protection wearables.

Versarien is also collaborating with companies in a number of other sectors.

Discovered in 2004 by two researchers at The University of Manchester, Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering work, Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel, harder than a diamond, and carries heat and electricity better than any other material including gold or copper. It is also a million times smaller than a strand of hair.