Masdar Institute, The University of Manchester launch joint graphene research program

Composites will be an initial area of focus.

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Masdar City, Abu Dhabi) and The University of Manchester (Manchester, uK) have launched a research collaborative research program covering three projects in graphene and 2D materials. The three projects will focus on composites, sensors and membranes, which will be led by faculty members from both research institutions.

The projects will respectively explore the development of novel low-density graphene-based foams for various engineering applications, inkjet-printed graphene micro-sensors for energy and defense applications and graphene-enabled ion exchange membranes for desalination.

“Graphene has huge potential for applications in a large range of sectors, and we are delighted to be collaborating with The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology on these important areas of research,” said James Baker, Graphene business director for The University of Manchester. “The University of Manchester has more than 235 researchers working on graphene and 2D materials and many will now have the opportunity to further their research by working with Masdar. Our partnership with Masdar Institute is crucial to the commercialization of graphene and we look forward to seeing ground-breaking research and into developing exciting applications with potential industrial partners as a result of this activity.”

One project seeks to develop novel low-density graphene-based nanocomposite foams for engineering applications that include energy. The second project seeks to develop inexpensive fabrication methods for sensor devices that can operate in challenging environments often associated with high temperature energy and military applications. Other work aims to conduct a systematic study of the potential benefits of graphene-enabled ion exchange membranes for water desalination purposes.

Meanwhile, work is progressing on schedule for the £60 million Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) building being constructed as part of a collaboration between The University of Manchester and Masdar, and is set be completed by the end of 2017. The GEIC is partially funded by £15 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), £5 million from the Innovate UK and by £30 million from Masdar.

The GEIC is expected to accelerate the arrival of graphene products in the marketplace. Commercialization of graphene research has already begun from projects associated with the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute, including graphene light-bulb and graphene RFID tags. Therefore, current research projects may ultimately be targets for commercialization in the GEIC when it is completed in 2017.