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Graphite is one of world’s most versatile manufacturing materials and essential for the production of new and developing technologies, particularly:
International Graphite is a new generation manufacturer that will produce downstream graphite products to support both emerging industries and existing graphite markets. IG’s Collie plant will be designed for rapid expansion with a diversified product mix that includes:
Smartphones, electric cars and 3D printers, along with fuel cells that generate electricity by chemical reaction, are all powered by batteries that use graphite as the anode material. It is a giant market and set to grow quickly. A Li-ion battery to power an electric vehicle typically requires significantly more graphite than lithium bringing high quality battery anode materials into tight supply.
Tesla broke new ground when it opened the first stage of its “Gigafactory No 1” in 2016, with plans to produce enough Lithium batteries to supply 1,500,000 electric cars per year. More plants are planned in the US, Europe and China. In 2017, Tesla switched on the world’s biggest lithium battery to feed electricity into the Australian domestic grid.
As the world searches for renewable energy sources, the real future of graphite may lie in fuel cells which convert chemical energy into electricity using external fuel supplies.
More than 5 billion people around the world currently have a mobile phone – all powered by lightweight batteries made using graphite with graphite foil for heat dispersion being an integral component. Every portable computer also uses graphite for batteries and graphite foil for heat dispersion.
The outlook for graphite is buoyant with market analysts predicting:
Traditional graphite markets are also robust. Graphite has long been in demand for everything from pencils and refractory materials, used in furnaces, kilns, incinerators, and reactors, to flame deflector systems for rocket launch structures. Graphite is also found in automotive components, inks and coatings, paints, polymers and plastics, lubricants and grease, ceramics, drilling fluids, steel pipe and tubing, fire retardants and oil spill recovery materials. In 2017, the refractory segment accounted for more than 43% of the market.
The ultimate boost for graphite may come from graphene. Dubbed the strongest material in the world, this thin, flexible commodity is 10 times lighter and 200 times stronger than steel. Due to its atomic structure, graphene can be moulded into any shape and conducts electricity at the speed of light. IBM is currently using it to produce the fastest computer chip in history and ultimately, graphene chips may replace silicon chips in computers.