Work Programme

Work Package 1

Exfoliation/Dispersion Process Design

Work Package 2

Laboratory-scale Exfoliation/Dispersion Method Development

Work Package 3

Intermediate Process Development

Work Package 5

Exfoliation/Dispersion Scale-up

Work Package 4

Characterisation

Work Package 7

Health and Environmental Assessment

Work Package 6

Case Studies

Work Package 8

Project Management and Dissemination

Work Package 1:

Based on existing knowledge of the dispersion of layered materials, and by considering the energy required to separate graphite into graphene, a preliminary platform for the exfoliation/dispersion will be designed and used as the starting point for laboratory-scale work.

Work Package 2:

This work package will firstly develop and then optimise the laboratory scale techniques to exfoliate graphite and then disperse the resulting graphene. The outputs of WP1 will be evaluated and a suitable platform for the scale up work will be identified, taking into account factors such as rheology, energy levels required for successful graphite delamination, and the feasibility of dispersion directly in polymers and/or monomers without intermediate steps.

Work Package 3:

Techniques will be developed which allow the processing of the graphene-reinforced resin without re-agglomerating or damaging the individual graphene sheets. For both fibre-reinforced composites and adhesive applications, there is a need to ensure that the graphene remains well dispersed during subsequent mixing and blending steps whilst, for fibre-reinforced composites in particular, novel techniques will be developed which ensure that the graphene is not filtered during the production of infusion laminates or pre-pregs.

Work Package 4:

A range of characterisation techniques will be utilised in order to determine the degree of graphite exfoliation, the uniformity of graphene dispersion throughout the polymer (both before and after intermediate processing), improvements in thermal, electrical, barrier, and mechanical properties obtained.

Work Package 5:

Based on the outcomes from WP2, we will design, build and test adaptations to existing platforms (e.g. new rotor and stator geometries, revised pumping arrangements) to achieve desired nanoplatelet delamination. Once optimised for epoxies, we will then look to demonstrate this new platform both in other resin systems (such as phenolics and benzoxazines) and for other layered materials (such as montmorillonite clays).

Work Package 6:

Three case study parts will be defined, based on results from previous WP's (manufacturability, electrical properties enhancement, mechanical properties enhancement) and detailed performance specifications drawn up. The parts will then be subject to a range of industry-specified tests, such as mechanical testing, thermal performance testing, electrical conductivity testing and fire testing.

Work Package 7:

Initial work will focus on identifying the potential hazards arising from the scaled-up exfoliation/dispersion process and the potential exposure scenarios will then be ranked according to their severity and likelihood. Those identified as highest risk will then be taken forward for further in-depth study; firstly by taking specific measurements in controlled laboratory conditions and subsequently by direct monitoring of the up-scaled process. The information gained will be used to develop a risk management methodology and define safe working practices.

Work Package 8:

Dissemination activities will include a dedicated project website, press releases, trade exhibitions, technical conferences, publication in academic journals and the formation of an end-user interest group.