There is no doubt that graphene is the material of the future. But being a single layer of carbon atoms – and this particularity being the reason for its extraordinary performance – it is not at all easy to produce on an industrial scale. But Italy is at the forefront in this area, because from 2021 it will host one of the first graphene factories in the world: the one built by BeDimensional, a spin-off of the Italian Institute of Technology which in 2019 benefited from ‘private investments for 20 million euros which made it possible to start the establishment of the plant.
“This is in addition to a significant investment by the Italian Institute of Technology, which has matured this technology over time2, explains Vittorio Pellegrini, founder of BeDimensional. this technology, which then became a private company which will return to the Institute – and therefore to the public – through a royalty process, all the investment initially made “.
Graphene will be one of the materials that will bring today’s lithium-ion batteries to a much higher level of performance, revolutionizing energy storage. “With important implications: with the use of this material, the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries can be doubled (or even more)”, explains Pellegrini. “So you can have, for electric vehicles, ranges comparable, if not better, to those that can be obtained with gasoline. This can lead to a revolution in the future of mobility.”
A partnership with Varta, world leader in the sector, is already underway on new generation batteries. “And the second aspect that we are working on in a significant way – with various national and non-national players – is in the field of protective coatings, that is to say the whole category of paints that protect metals from corrosion or a thermal shock surface, which guarantees a high level of electrical insulation ”, explains Pellegrini. “Today, these products are made from heavy metals, which are not suitable for the environment. To replace them, we have already developed solutions with graphene and we are already validating them with a few large customers, for very concrete applications, ranging from the coating of infrastructures. applications in the field of mobility ”. The idea is to create protective, or “smart”, functional paints that improve current paints and avoid the use of heavy metals.
But graphene will also be the material of the future in other fields. “Today there is a huge interest in new materials”, explains Pellegrini. “It is true that today we continue to create a whole series of expectations on digital, data manipulation, artificial intelligence, the cloud: yet the basis of everything are the materials. There is a new thirst to develop new ones. these potentialities ”.
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