The Al-Gr composite was developed at the company's graphene and technology development unit, the Tirupati Graphene and Mintech Research Centre (TGMRC) in Bhubaneswar, India. It successfully combines graphene with aluminium, retaining aluminium's lightweight while adding properties from graphene such as increased thermal and electrical conductivity and improved mechanical properties.
Tirupati Graphite added that the Al-Gr composite's light weight provides ‘significant advantages' over copper. Copper is generally the material of choice for an array of electrical and thermal conductivity applications owing to its superior conductivity and other properties, but it is approximately 3.2 times denser than aluminium and approximately five times as expensive.
The Al-Gr composite developed by TGMRC, with its high conductivity properties and improved mechanical strength, has potential to substitute or displace the use of copper across various high-tech, weight sensitive, electrical and thermal conductivity applications. A leading FTSE 100 engineering company is exploring its potential use replacing copper in thermal, power and propulsion systems to reduce weight, and thereby reduce the carbon footprint and emissions from current technologies and processes.
The proprietary manufacturing process developed by Tirupati Graphite is commercially scalable, tested and has already been used to manufacture batches of over 200g of the Al-Gr composite. The company's next steps include manufacturing a few kilograms of the composite for extensive application and product-specific tests, both internal and external, as well as to establish large scale, end-product manufacturing processes such as for moulding, extrusion, wire drawing and polymer coating for wires and cables.
The successful development of the Al-Gr composite also opens the doors for Tirupati Graphite to work on other forms of advanced and metal matrix composite (MMC) materials. The company plans to undertake further development work to alloy the Al-Gr composite with other metal additives to improve specific application-related properties for advanced applications in structural materials for space, aerospace and land and sea mobility.
Shishir Poddar, CEO of Tirupati Graphite, said: "We are looking to create disruptive new age materials, as demonstrated by the development of this ground-breaking Al-Gr composite. We are delighted that this achievement has caught the attention of several major companies globally, including a world leading FTSE 100 engineering group, with whom we are now working with to further develop our Al-Gr composite and explore commercialisation opportunities. We believe that this material has transformational potential and could be a key contributor to emissions reduction as it evolves."
Tirupati Graphite is a producer and developer of high-grade natural flake graphite, speciality graphite and graphene and graphene enhanced advanced materials. Its operations include primary mining and processing in Madagascar, where it operates two key projects, Sahamamy and Vatomina.