More support for graphene technology in China expected

China is expected to see a push for the commercial application of graphene, a material which has exceptional strength, thermal conductivity and electric conductivity, from the government and breakthroughs achieved by the country's research teams, according to Shanghai's China Business News.

Sources in the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Sept. 28 that the government plans to support the development of industries surrounding the use of graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-shaped lattice.

A guideline on the development of such industries is set to be published, an innovation center will be set up, while the ministry will establish an industry alliance for the purpose, the sources said.

The plan to set up an industrial park for graphene and other advanced carbon material in Qingdao was recently approved, and the government has established an investment fund of 100 million yuan (US$15.74 million) for graphene projects.

Shares of so-called "graphene concept" companies saw a boost on the news of the government plans, but businesses have not yet achieved commercial production of the material, the paper said.

A major use of graphene is in power cells, as the material is expected to offer a cheaper alternative as a conductor to silver, which costs 2,987 yuan (US$470) per kilogram, according to the report.

Meanwhile, a research team led by Shenzhen University professor Liu Jianhong has developed a method to create graphene that has the structure required for good electric conductivity.

Liu's team has set up a joint venture with companies, including Gem Co, to focus on developing commercial uses of graphene, which the professor currently can only produce in small amounts.

According to Liu, his team has followed the concept of "Industry 4.0" proposed by Germany in its development of graphene technology and studied the possibility of computerization of the production process.

The Chinese State Council unveiled in May its "Made in China 2025" plan, which has been seen as the country's version of "Industry 4.0" to take the manufacturing sector to a new era, China Business News said.