Executive Interview: Graphenics

This month we interviewed Rachel Frazier of Graphenics. This University of Alabama spinout has a proprietary method to create pristine graphene in a breakthrough way. Their process is highly tunable and allows them to incorporate graphene into a wide variety of products.

Q:  In laymen’s terms, what does your company do?

A:  We help companies get graphene into their products. Graphene is a revolutionary new material. It has the highest strength on demand, highest electrical conductivity, and highest thermal conductivity. When people put it into plastics, they don’t see in their final products the results they expect. And that is because of the problems in mixing. We literally take on that burden. And help develop the mixing process that goes directly into their existing process. The goal of passing it off to them to make their own graphene in their own product line.

Q:  What is the first major application you would be in and why would that be advantageous?

A:  I don’t know about the first, but one we see is under the hood parts in the automotive industry. I know it is a long time to market in that particular application. But I think graphene has a potential to impact. That will be the biggest impact. You will be able to get a thermally stable plastic that is strong and light weight.

Q:  How long has the company been around? Have you been in research mode?

A:  The company has been operating for two years. The invention was developed in 2007.

Q:  When do you expect your first sellable products? Or have product revenue?

A:  We have already started. In the first year of operation, we did some consulting and got a little bit. Second year got a little bit more with services.

Q:  Can you say anything about funding, capital raised or plans for raising more capital in the next year?

A:  We participated in the auto accelerator out of the State of Tennessee. And that was a fantastic way for us to get connections in the auto industry. And that gave us a little bit of seed funding. That is all we have taken so far. We are really trying to work with customers to develop a customer base.

Q:  Graphene has been talked about for years and was part of the nano tech craze for a while. Where do you see the future of graphene going? Will this be a major component and what type of time frame do you think?

I think it will ultimately replace carbon fiber for very specific applications where you need a cost performance ratio that is a little bit more consumer friendly. Graphene has that advantage. It will be less expensive in the long run than carbon fiber. You will be able to see it in the use of intermediate priced vehicles as opposed to the higher end vehicles. I think that we will see it in automobiles in 5-10 years. It is already in sporting goods, in tennis rackets and bicycle wheels.

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