The Graphene Blender in Your Future

Tags graphene, 3dprinter

If you’re a Maker of things, this matters. It’s a form of AMBER alert too as the red-haired stepchild triumphs. We all love discontinuous innovation and Production Solutions.
I caught this nifty news tidbit late last month while the cadpilot site was in Neverland. I had no real way to chat it up.

Times Change…

Some of you - maybe many of you - have heard rumblings about graphene – a sheet-form nano-material originally discovered in 2003 by scientists at the University of Manchester, England.

Graphene research earned a Nobel Prize in only six years – the fastest ever in history. It is truly marvelous stuff – flexible, clear, and stronger than steel. Graphene purports to able to make better batteries and solar panels in a single bound. Many smart people think graphene, or its nano-sheet cousins, may be the way forward even for Moore’s Law.

  • This month IBM announced the first graphene based transistor.
  • A lab in Singapore announced the first nano-scale, two-cycle-internal-combustion engine for nano-machines made from doped graphene sheet. Way Cool.
  • Of course, Samsung announced months ago they had discovered a high tech way to mass produce it. Their flexible cell phone screens are made of it.

To Be or Not to Be Graphened

No matter what we’re going to be graphened in one form or another.
Some say that there’s evil carbon in it!
The EPA is already paying research folks in California universities big bucks to produce research that graphene may poison the groundwater, rivers, and streams.
They must plan and budget in a way to regulate, control, and tax it. They are not alone.

The Nano Space Race

The tech giants and nation states have been stumbling over themselves and the problem of grapheme production ever since it’s discovery. Originally, the material was produced literally by hand with Scotch tape from graphite – you know that stuff inside your #2 pencil that leaves a mark on SAT test sheets.

Seems fitting that GRE post docs were subjected to this unique form of torture.

“Bob. Break up the testing pencils. Get out the graphite. I want you to take rolls of tape and peel off layers of the stuff.
No. Don’t worry about whether you can see the stuff or not. They say it’s there.
No. I don’t care if you have hand cramps and your fingers bleed.
Trust me. There’s a doctorate in it for you.
In this economy We need that damn NSF grant.”

Graphene is a naturally occurring crystalline lattice structure of carbon atoms afterall. The world has been struggling to produce clean forms of unstacked graphene in industrial quantities ever since it was discovered.

China, Korea, Japan, all of the EU, and the US have spent billions in high tech gear searching for the Graphene Grail.

News flash: The Net Revolution still depends on the Industrial Revolution. Dooh.

AMBER Alert

The aptly named AMBER lab in Trinity College, Ireland announced this week on Nature.com you can even make clean graphene in your kitchen. No bleeding fingers, tape, or masters degrees are required. Their industrial methodologies employed in breweries can be scaled up to industrial scale. It’s already a done deal. The labs major industrial partner, Thomas Swan Ltd, announced immediate kilogram deliveries for $83 US dollars/kg – about $40/lb. One ton orders take a month for delivery.

“It is an amazing material that seems to have unheard of applications. If it is going to be used in these things, someone is going to have to make it in large quantities, and that is what we have done.”
- Prof Jonathan Coleman, a principal investigator at Amber

Do Some Home Production

You need with some graphite – preferably 99% pure; a blender – it must be capable of making great margaritas; and dishwashing soap or shampoo – preferably not real foamy stuff.

Mix the graphite in water
Add a dash of soap
Mix on high for an hour or so.

Stirred Not Shaken Please

During this time, if you are a Yank, you can raise an imported Guinness or a Kilkenny to the proverbial red-haired lads and lasses who stumped the chumps.
Tip your cap to their innovation in science and engineering.

Better yet. Break out the home brew from your microbrewery you just finished 3D printing up from Autodesk’s new “Open” 3D printer. Does that support the use of graphene additives?

Wot’s Happening in the Bender - Blender?

The shear created by the proper turbulence in your blender will peel off the nano layers of graphene from the large graphite particles afloat in the mix.
The Dawn, Ivory, or shampoo will keep the nano sheets apart in the brew.
Reaggregation is a serious problem.
Let’s get physical – Surprise, it can lead to planet and stellar formation too.

Maybe wee should call this new mixology…

The Dandruff Effect

In recognition of this new Irish Supremacy perhaps we might call it the “Sheep Shear Effect”. Nah, that would be politically incorrect. Racist as all Holy Hell; and almost as creepy as The Fall.

Centrifuge the resultant black foamy soup.
Your neighborhood ObamaCare supported health care lab professional should be happy and able to lend a hand if you ask for a DNA or STD screening.
Spin it up for 2 hours and pull off the top 7-10 percent. This is clean graphene.

Black Gold, Irish Tea…

Be responsible. You can and should recycle the leftovers.
There is more graphene in there.
Repeat the process ten times per batch.

“There’s the Law of Diminishing Returns at work you know.”

True, making graphene will cause a bit of wear and tear on your blender. It’s Ok. It’s an entire year until Cinco da Mayo rolls around again and you need that blender for margaritas. By then you can print a new one from graphene that will never break and self-heal too.

Take pride in your work. Do a Riverdance or two.  You’ve out done Apple, Google, Sony, and a host of venture capital startups with the help of wee bit of Irish grit an’ gile – so to speak.

“There were cats, and rats, and elephants
and sure as you’re born
the loveliest of all was the unicorn.”

Me? I jigged and clogged to the sounds of the Rory Gallagher, the blues of Tom Jones, and clearly the Irish Rovers.