A technology for producing graphene from vegetable oil has been created
Australian scientists have learned how to synthesize graphene from vegetable oil and food waste.
Graphene is a material that is a flat layer of ordered carbon atoms and demonstrates amazing properties in the laboratory: tremendous mechanical strength and elasticity, thermal and electrical conductivity. It is constantly called “the material of the future” and is even gradually being applied in practice.
However, the widespread use of graphene is still hampered by the high cost of production and the difficulty of obtaining sufficiently large and high-quality samples, especially on an industrial scale. So far, this task requires the application of enormous temperatures and pressures for a long time, making graphene too expensive an innovation.
Dozens of scientific groups around the world are looking for new, simple and affordable ways to obtain graphene, including scientists led by Zhao Jun Han and Konstantin Ostrikov from the Australian State Association for Scientific and Applied Research (CSIRO). They reported their latest results in an article published by the magazine Nature Communicationsand these results look very promising.
The GraphAir technology, which the scientists describe, makes it possible to obtain graphene from the most ordinary and “pure” natural resource – from soybeans. The vegetable oil squeezed out of them is quickly burned at a high temperature and in the presence of a metal catalyst (the authors used polycrystalline nickel foil). The oil decomposes into a mixture of various combustion products, including carbon black, the suspension of which fills a chamber made of heat-resistant and inert quartz glass.
Then the “workpiece” is cooled, and a thin layer of monatomic carbon, graphene, is deposited on the catalyst film (already at normal temperature), the formation of which was stimulated by the structure of the foil surface. Zhao Junhan demonstrates one of such samples in the illustration to this material.
Of course, soy is not the only possible resource for producing the “material of the future” with GraphAir technology. The authors note that other vegetable, oil-rich raw materials, or even oil already used in the kitchen for cooking, are quite suitable for this purpose. “This unique technology should reduce the cost of graphene production and stimulate its use in various areas of life,” Australian scientists say.
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