The graphene industry is entering a new phase, a phase of growth. The industry has accumulated significant experience over the past 10-12 years to bring about this phase. In this article, IDTechEx Research offers opinions about the recent past and future outlook of the graphene industry based on the report ‘Graphene, 2D Materials and Carbon Nanotubes: Markets, Technologies and Opportunities 2019-2029.’
The industry spent years to arrive at a set of applications in which graphene immediately makes commercial sense. In the early years, the industry was in a divergent exploratory phase in which players pursued numerous opportunities across diverse and often unrelated markets. We are now at a more convergent and focused phase during which a realistic application pipeline is established. The industry also at first overestimated the value proposition of graphene to different sectors. It is, however, now more realistic about segment-specific prospects although some recalibration of expectations as well as segment-specific value propositions is still ongoing. The building of this commercial application know-how is an important and indispensable part of the learning curve of the industry and represents a source of competitive advantage.
The table below shows an indicative application roadmap. Here, each color corresponds to a probable readiness or maturity level of graphene in each application at different years. Graphene has a diverse set of properties. Therefore, the list of target applications is long. This list is by no means comprehensive but is, IDTechEx hopes, representative of the state of affairs. Each application enjoys a different readiness level and is likely to follow its own timeline to market maturity. Graphene will offer a different value proposition in each sector and will need to position itself differently. This diversity has been a source of confusion but ultimately represents a source of industry-wide resilience as it would be highly improbable for graphene to fail in all these applications. Note that the table below provides a qualitative view of our current assessment and does not offer market size and forecasts. To learn more about graphene applications and market potential please visit www.IDTechEx.com/graphene. This report is from IDTechEx Research offers a detailed analysis of the technological and commercial progress as well as prospects of graphene, carbon nanotubes and non-graphene 2D materials. It offers market forecasts for graphene segmented by more than 22 applications.
The table below (scroll to the end of the article) shows that multiple applications are already in the market. Click here to download a full copy of the table. Interestingly, the most successful applications are not always the most glamorous. They are also not the ones the industry focused on at first. The rest of this article provides a brief highlight of some select applications.
Lithium ion batteries are a growing field. The advent of electric vehicles is creating demand for large-sized and low-cost batteries. To serve this need, large factories, e.g., giga factories, are sprouting around the world. The need to constantly push performance and cost and also the early phase of factory installments means that products are still open to new technologies including new materials and formulations.
Overall, these market dynamics translate into opportunities for carbon-based materials. Graphene is one such material. It has shown that it can reduce electrode resistance without decreasing active material content. This property translates into better performance at high discharge rates, a characteristic which is highly sought-after in the EV industry.
Indeed, graphene is already a success in this industry, especially in China, creating a tens-of-tons-per-year demand. Graphene will remain part of the toolbox of additives that electrode material producers can deploy. Therefore, graphene will likely continue to be employed although formulations will change and evolve. This will affect the type and loading of graphene deployed.
Graphene is also used, or can be used, in other energy storage devices such as lead acid batteries, Si anode, Li sulphur, and super capacitors. The value proposition and the readiness level of graphene in each energy storage device and the readiness level of the device market itself are different in each case. The market dynamics and prospects are therefore different in each case. In general, the development results are promising but end-user markets are still not ready. As such these represent future and not present sales.