Business / Industries

Baotou seeks to be country's graphene capital

By YANG ZIMAN/YUAN HUI (China Daily) Updated: 2016-10-14 13:45

Graphene, the strongest material ever discovered, is expected to give new momentum for growth to Baotou, a city in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region which is rich in graphite reserves, according to the chief of a local research institute.

"The graphene industry is in the infancy in China, and needs a lot of research to bring around sophisticated technologies and talent. Research institutes can play an important role as the driving force of the industry, especially in set-ting up standards," said Liang Hejun, director of the Inner Mongolia Institute of Graphene Materials.

Graphene is a thin layer of pure carbon. It is the lightest material known but is stronger than diamond. It is 200 times stronger than the strongest steel. It conducts electricity and heat better than any other material.

British scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize of Physics in 2010 for their discovery of graphene in 2004.

The current market application is very limited and the material is yet to be produced in large quantities, said Liang.

Baotou has 200 million metric tons of proven graphite reserves and 500 million tons of prospective reserves. It has started eight graphene projects valued at 2.3 billion yuan ($343 million).

"The rich reserve of graphite in Baotou is a natural advantage for the graphene business. Inside the lab, our technologies for developing graphene is on par with developed countries. However, the application is lagging far behind," said Liang.

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