We have had a fair amount of graphite- and graphene-related coverage on our blog in recent months – but for good reason. As analyst Byron King argues, graphite, as one of the primary carbon raw materials in a naturally occurring form, and allotropes of carbon, such as graphite nanotubes and graphene, will play a major role in the coming materials revolution.
In an interview with The Metals Report, he explains his reasoning. Here are his key points:
- The next big leap for fundamental material science will be in the field of carbon. Graphite is already widely used – from amorphous carbon in brake pads and pencils to flake graphite, both small and large (used for example in advanced storage batteries) – but “we’re barely into the early innings of the materials revolution using advanced forms of graphite.”
- As is the case with REEs, China is a key global supplier of graphite. What is different from the REE story, is that mining and processing graphite “isn’t super technically advanced.”
- As downstream users have their own “secret chemistry for putting the graphite and other additives together into a component,” there has to be a tightly-knit supply chain with miners working with downstream users early on.
- Large-flake graphite will likely see rapid demand growth, primarily for use in batteries and foils, as well as fire insulation and heat resistance.
- Of note, there hasn’t been a new mine going online outside of China in the last 25 years, and many of the working mines are getting “long in the tooth.”
- Synthetic graphene and nanotubes are already finding their way into high-tech applications, and that trend will only continue with aggressive research and development projects underway.
To read the full interview, in which King also provides some insights into the state of play for the platinum group metals and outlines his “happy version of the future” twenty to thirty years from now, click here.