Graphene concrete invention gets funding boost

Concretene research scientist Camille Wright in GEIC Chemistry lab

Concretene has succeeded with three UK government funding bids, two through Innovate UK, totalling £1.18m, and one through EPSRC and the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials for £79k.

The product – a graphene-enhanced admixture for concrete that reduces embodied carbon – is being developed for commercial roll-out by Nationwide Engineering Research & Development and The University of Manchester. The grant awards relate to Concretene’s core research programme, from raw material supply through to construction applications.

One Innovate UK bid was submitted via the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme (£300k), the other in response to a call for ‘Resource Efficiency for Materials and Manufacturing’ (£888k). 

The KTP is designed to widen the scope of applications for Concretene beyond the range of cements and aggregates used in demonstrator projects to date, widening the market potential for the technology.

The Resource Efficiency funding is aimed at delivering consistency and repeatability in chemical constituents of the admixture. Industrial collaborators on the project are William Blythe, Accrington-based manufacturer of inorganic speciality chemicals and advanced materials, and Thomas Swan & Co, Consett-based speciality chemical manufacturer and founder of Black Swan Graphene, the supplier of graphene nanoplatelets to Concretene. Black Swan Graphene is also an equity partner of Concretene.

The award through the Royce is a co-application with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to explore ‘Morphology of Graphene in Aqueous Solutions’, worth £79k, funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences research Council (EPSRC).

Alex McDermott, co-founder and Chief Development Officer of Concretene, said: “Our success with these awards is part of the growing momentum around Concretene and shows its potential to be a game-changer in lowering embodied carbon in construction.

“We’re seeing real interest from government in helping us to scale and commercialise the technology for industry roll-out, adding high-value jobs in advanced materials and de-risking supply chain involvement in R&D.

“Our work with The University of Manchester, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and our project partners has shown how academia and industry can collaborate effectively and accelerate innovative products to market.”  

Harry Swan, CEO of Thomas Swan, said: “Concretene’s successful application for these grants is an excellent endorsement of their technology and the huge potential for the use of graphene in concrete applications. This is another demonstration that applications for graphene that will give significant benefits to a wide range of products are now emerging.”

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester and Professor of Practice at The University of Manchester, said: “It’s great to see our partners winning key grants and recognition that graphene-enhanced products and applications have a significant role to play in support of sustainability and the journey to net zero. We’re now seeing real progress made towards scale-up and commercialisation of nanomaterial technologies.”

Dr Keith Paton, Senior Scientist at NPL said: “We are excited to be working with Nationwide Engineering Research & Development on this project. Reducing CO2 emissions from construction is a key national and international challenge, and graphene offers a route to achieve this. By measuring the dispersion of graphene flakes in Concretene, the formulation can be optimised, improving the performance in the final application. It is a great opportunity to develop an industrially relevant measurement solution.”