Specialist Chinese materials company Jiangsu Dingying New Materials Co Ltd and researchers at the University of Edinburgh have embarked on a landmark collaborative project to develop graphene-based materials for use in waste treatment and purification applications.
Dr Harvey Huang and Professor Xianfeng Fan of the Institute for Materials and Processes within the University’s School of Engineering had been developing their relationship with Jiangsu Dingying New Materials Co since 2017, with the support of Edinburgh Innovations. The cooperation, determination and hard work of both parties has culminated in a six-year collaborative research agreement worth £1.19 million. Dr Huang and Professor Fan will lead the University’s project team in researching how to optimise two types of graphene-based material to remove pollutants and extract useful substances from effluent liquids and gases.
The company will take the results of that research and scale-up production, for applications such as industrial waste management and chemical purification.
The capabilities of graphene
A growing number of industrial uses have been discovered for graphene - a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a 2D honeycomb structure - since its discovery in 2004. As an inexpensive yet abundant oxidized form of graphene, graphene oxide is a promising material for graphene-based waste treatment and purification applications.
The collaboration aims to engineer the nanostructures of graphene-based membranes with enhanced structural stability to allow faster and more effective extraction of contaminants from water and to research the use of such membranes to extract toxic volatile organic compounds from industrial waste gas streams.
It will also seek to develop membranes with greater selectivity in their filtration so that they can extract lithium from waste or lithium-enriched brines for use in the battery sector, and for purification applications in the chemicals sector.
Dr Huang, the principal investigator of the collaboration, said the research would facilitate the commercialisation of graphene-based materials and contribute to the worldwide efforts in waste management, energy-saving and pollution reduction.
This collaboration will help us find lower-cost and more sustainable routes to reducing pollution produced by industry, which when scaled up by our specialist partner company could bring significant environmental benefits.
Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Head of the School of Engineering.
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