Graphene is a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atom arranged in a honeycomb lattice. It is an exceptional conductor of heat and electricity and its strength is unparalleled. Although synthetic graphite can be used to produce graphene and it offers the benefit of consistency, natural graphite is far less expensive as a source material. Synthetic graphite is made by combining petroleum coke with carbon black in a high heat process that burns up profits as it purifies the carbon.
There are several methods for producing graphene. Exfoliation of natural graphite is perhaps the most common alternative because it produces the least defects and leaves the highest mobility in carbon electrons. The two scientists who discovered graphene used adhesive tape to exfoliate graphite onto a silicon wafer. This is unfortunately not a very efficient production technique. Chemical solvents or an electrochemical exfoliation process achieve more efficient results. Epitaxy is another method that involves the deposition of a crystalline graphene ‘overlayer’ on a substrate such as silicon carbide.
Several graphene producers have adopted an integrated business model coupling a captive natural graphite source with a preferred graphene production method. The verdict is still out on whether the strategy can deliver high profits. Nonetheless, the integrated graphene producers are worth watching.
|SELECTED GRAPHITE PRODUCERS|
|Company Name||SYM||Price||Mkt Cap||Revenue|
|Elcora Advanced Materials||ERA: TSX-V||$0.18||$92.7M||$154.5M|
|First Graphene Ltd.||FGR: ASX||$0.12||$51.7M||$7K|
|Grafoid, Inc. (Focus Graphite)||Private||na||na||na|
|Hexagon Resources||HXG: ASX||$0.10||$28.2M||$8K|
|Imerys SA||NK: Paris||$52.27||$4.2B||$5.2B|
|Saint Jean Carbon, Inc.||SJL: TSX-V||$0.03||$1.9M||$314K|
|ZEN Graphene Solutions, Inc.||ZEN: TSX-V||$0.25||$19.0M||-0-|
The next few posts will look at individual companies from this list.
Neither the author of the Small Cap Strategist web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein.
This article was first published on the Small Cap Strategist weblog on 4/9/19 as part of the post “Integrated Graphene Producers.”