Electric vehicle ‘wonder material’ graphene facility given green light

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A ‘game-changing’ electric vehicle project to build a graphene nanotube facility in Luxumbourg has been given the green light, with the wonder material set to power the next generation of EVs.

OCSiAl, the world’s largest manufacturer of graphene nanotubes, was granted approval by Luxembourg authorities for a production plant, together with an associated R&D center, in Differdange, Luxembourg.

The facility would enhance the geographic accessibility of graphene nanotubes to the growing EV components markets in Europe. In the state-of-the-art graphene nanotube R&D center, talented scientists and engineers will develop nanotube solutions for the transportation of the future.

With potential applications across up to 50% of the global materials market, a graphene nanotube is a unique form of carbon that can be imagined as a graphene sheet, with a thickness of one atom, rolled into a tube. One of the best electrical conductors on earth, graphene nanotubes are 100 times stronger than steel, but lighter than aluminum. When added to a material, nanotubes create a strong, conductive skeleton inside the material that results in a substantial improvement to the material’s targeted properties. The use of elastomers, thermoplastics and thermosets, reinforced with graphene nanotubes, will lead to the development of lightweight “smart” car bodies; safe, energy-efficient tires; and long-lasting, high-performance batteries for EVs. Today, OCSiAl’s nanotubes are applied in serial production by a number of leading lithium-ion battery manufacturers. The new facility is expected to increase OCSiAl’s production capacity, which could supply nanotubes for up to 10 million lithium-ion battery-powered EVs per year. The total number of EVs sold around the world in 2021 was 6.5 million.

“Our state-of-the-art graphene nanotube facility in Luxembourg will be positioned near more than 20 gigafactories in Europe, many of which are already our partners. Its strategic location between Belgium, France and Germany will allow us to reduce logistics costs and work closely with leading automakers, the largest chemical producers and large tire manufacturers across Europe,” said Konstantin Notman, chief executive officer of OCSiAl Group. He added, “With the new facility, we’ll be able to supply these leading industries with advanced materials for the next generation of EV components.”

OCSiAl plans to invest US$300m in the development of the cutting-edge facility, which was designed to minimize the usage of energy and resources as well as to protect the population and the biodiversity in the surrounding environment from any negative impact. Moreover, graphene nanotubes contribute to sustainable development by giving industries the ability to create next-generation products with previously unachievable properties and with less raw material required.

OCSiAl’s headquarters and one of the company’s three graphene nanotube development centers are already located in Luxembourg. The new facility will expand the company’s global footprint and is expected to increase its headcount by 300 across research and production. Over 1,500 industry players in more than 50 countries are developing technologies and products based on OCSiAl’s graphene nanotubes. In some products, graphene nanotubes have become a key component. For instance, batteries with OCSiAl nanotubes are already in serial production by a number of leading lithium-ion battery makers. Two of the five largest global tire manufacturers are at an advanced R&D stage with OCSiAl’s nanotubes, and seven of the ten largest global coatings producers are conducting advanced industrial trials. According to third-party analysis, the total addressable market for OCSiAl’s graphene nanotube products and technology is expected to surpass US$400bn by 2035.

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