Michael Rosenberg 0:10
So my name is, I can take this off, my name is Mike Rosenberg. I was here on Tuesday. I'm a professor at IESE Business School, which is just up the street. My work is on environmental sustainability, geopolitics, and other big stuff like that. Advanced Materials I think are amazing. I think they're very interesting. And they have the potential to change the debate about climate change. They have the potential to change the way we make energy, the way we store energy, the way we make cars, the way we make lots and lots of different things. So it's a very exciting time to look at this thing. And today we have Carlo Iorio. from the Université Libre De Bruxelles, he's in space and we have Soroush, a great honor. So Soroush is the CEO and founder of Nanoexplore the biggest graphene company I think in the world. Carlo, if you don't mind, I'll start with you. What does space have to do with solving the problems here on Earth? And what do nanomaterials have to do with that whole story?
Carlo Iorio 1:17
Yeah, right, then sorry for my voice.
Michael Rosenberg 1:19
Now, don't worry, if you smoke too much your voice is going to go.
Carlo Iorio 1:22
Thank you. So actually, it is a big question that you ask. Because there is a lot to say. But if you allow me, just let me take a few minutes. Because, you know, we have to, first of all, understand why space is important for climate change. But in order to understand that we have also to understand where we are coming from. So if we go back to the 60s. So basically, our ecosystem was essentially the earth. So the geode, our sphere, everything that we were doing, and the way we were observing ourselves, the way we were measuring, you know, our activities were essentially only done on ground. And then we began to send in outer space, some outpost satellites. So this first outpost represented already, okay, it was not so far, because, you know, satellites were like, hundreds of kilometres. So just went to outer space. And then we had the moon landing. So the exploit, and a lot of people think that the moon landing was really the most important part of that mission. Actually, it was not, it was the very iconic and famous Blue Marble picture that was taken by the astronauts. And why is important?
Michael Rosenberg 3:14
I think that astronaut Bill Anders, I think that was Apollo eight, and he called it Earthrise. He was supposed to take pictures of the moon. And he actually picked up the camera and pointed it out the window.
Carlo Iorio 3:23
But why was it iconic? Because this was really a revolution. It was the first mega selfie, not of one nation, not of one country but basically in this picture, that was the full of mankind inside. And so the main point was that everybody just looking at that said, wow, what a beautiful planet we have. I think that we should do everything we can in order to preserve this disease where we are now starting from this iconic.
Michael Rosenberg 3:58
So 53 years later, you are putting nanomaterials later satellites with the European Space Agency to do what exactly?
Carlo Iorio 4:06
To do and to enlarge our ecosystem, in the sense that now, Earth is not anymore what we are living in, but our ecosystem is Earth plus space where we observe. But as your own ground, we are hyper connected, we have to exchange data back and forth, we have to understand how logistics is moving, we have to understand the what are the consequences of our activities. So in space, we would need more sensors. So we have to know exactly what we are looking for. But sensing does not mean like a lot of you are thinking about the weather, about the clouds, about only the consequences but look at the possibility to also understand the mobility at a global scale, logistic at the mobility space to look for raw materials without painful excavation that are clean pollution. So basically what we can do from satellite what we need, why we need the materials is to have a bigger downlink. So bandwidth. We can have more sensitivity, we should there be a lot of different parts of the spectrum that we are not observing so far. And then they should be resistant, lightweight, and so on.
Michael Rosenberg 5:24
And so smaller, faster, better, cheaper?
Carlo Iorio 5:27
All of them, but especially, we have to consider that this part of space is basically our Earth is like we inflated Earth to the level of the satellites. So, these are the same as a smartphone. The same as a tower antenna. And so whatever we can do faster, we have to communicate. We did artificial intelligence, we have to interpret because, you know, gathering data observe, putting zillions of a terabyte is not enough. We also have to understand what is going on. Because this is the first point of order.
Michael Rosenberg 6:02
We have to understand that we have to eventually mitigate climate change. Soroush, let me go to you and talk a little bit about Nanoexplore because I think if I understand it, two thirds or three quarters of your business is actually in automotive and transportation. Yeah, can you tell us a little bit about what Nanoexplore is and what it's doing?
Soroush Nazarpour 6:22
So at Nano, we are the largest producer of graphene and we have about 40% of nameplate capacity. And we invested in downstream applications. So we're not just making graphene as a powder and that's it. We're actually developing products in different segments of the market. Of course, transportation was the first application for us and the first market for us to pick up graphene. We have content in in Ford soon GM, Tesla in a bunch of those.
Michael Rosenberg 6:52
But you're not putting graphene panels you're adding graphene to composites and plastics. So and those go and that's a new bumper which is stronger, better, lighter, cheaper etc.?
Soroush Nazarpour 7:02
Yeah, for instance, with Ford, we have content in F-250, F-350, in superduty. And these are fuel system brake lines, fuel lines, these are jackets, for instance, around the fuel system that improves the erosion lifetime of those systems. So less recalls for the OEMs. That's what they use graphene for.
Michael Rosenberg 7:22
So graphene enhanced plastic lifetime.
Soroush Nazarpour 7:24
It's a jacket around the pipe, right? So it protects the pipe against it.
Michael Rosenberg 7:28
And what's the jacket made out of?
Soroush Nazarpour 7:30
It's graphene mixed with a nylon. So it's a compound, and it's formed around the fuel pipe and protects it.
Michael Rosenberg 7:37
And the graphene makes everything stronger.
Soroush Nazarpour 7:41
Graphene, yes, it's like carbon fiber on steroids
Michael Rosenberg 7:43
Carbon fiber on steroids, okay,
Soroush Nazarpour 7:46
That's graphene, it's lighter, stronger, and, and just better.
Michael Rosenberg 7:51
And on graphene, because there was a lot of hype about graphene some years ago, right. And many of you are probably familiar with what’s called the hype cycle. That people get really excited about things. You know, people go public, they make a lot of money, and then and then things don't actually work the way they're supposed to. And then they go down again. And then eventually they come up. Where is graphene on that cycle?
Soroush Nazarpour 8:12
So I think it is already past that stage of hype. And right now, we're seeing the hockey stick in 2023-2024. When actually what graphene can do, it's realistic and the customers know about it. So early days, it was easy. Everyone thinks just put a bit of graphene and you can solve all humanity's problems. It's not that easy. So by the time we develop products, customers understanding a little bit more of what graphene, at the end of the day is just as whether sustainable additive material, that's it, that's all
Michael Rosenberg 8:45
Now this is a guy with a market cap of 1.25 billion. Is that US dollar a Canadian dollar?
Soroush Nazarpour 8:50
Michael Rosenberg 8:52
Canadian. Well, it's still a lot of money. And you get you have a new battery joint venture, Carlos Navarro from BASF was talking about batteries. His projection is 30% of cars in the world are going to be electric vehicles in 2030, which in the automotive business is the day after tomorrow. And you have a new factory being built in Quebec to produce batteries. How does graphene help battery production?
Soroush Nazarpour 9:15
So we invest it on a JV with a tier one auto supplier and with them…..
Michael Rosenberg 9:22
Tier one auto suppliers means the companies which are providing parts directly to the big car companies.
Soroush Nazarpour 9:28
Exactly. So with them, we are developing some sort of cylindrical cells 18-650. Those cells are like what you have in Tesla, like this is the type of cells that we are we are developing with that companies using graphene.
Michael Rosenberg 9:42
Those are basically like big big big double A batteries?
Soroush Nazarpour 9:45
A big double a, but the same shape but cylindrical it's just a bit bigger than the double A batteries. And these are lithium ion based. We have graphene on the anode, graphene in the cathode. We have really fast charging, we haven't disclosed what it does, but it does good stuff like it's fast charging, has a bit of improvement in capacity but is extremely safer than typical batteries you have out there. So this is the type of contribution that graphene has in those batteries, we're expanding it, bringing it to the market with potentially next year starting to be a factory in Canada, that's gonna be the first giga factory of Canada.
Michael Rosenberg 10:22
So let me just understand, maybe go back to you, Carlo. You said the satellites can be you know, lighter, faster, why do advanced materials or frontier materials? Why do they do that? Some of you are scientists, some of you are not scientist, but what is the what is the magic
Carlo Iorio 10:39
I will enlarge the field of application of frontier materials not only to satellites, but to the full spectrum of exploration and space. I mean, before having a satellite, you should launch a satellite. And so when you launch a satellite, you need the materials that are strong, resistant to vibration, because you send essentially a rocket, and then when this rocket should reentry, for example, in some cases, they are subject to extreme thermal constraints. Consider that, for example, materials that have been developed not as the base materials, but as the enhanced materials by NASA. Like the tiles that were protecting shuttles forSpaceX and so on and so forth. So we should consider that the history and study of space exploration is the material sciences story, because they can provide, for example, resistance to radiation.
Michael Rosenberg 11:44
Now Musk and his pals, they're all like launching things into space. And Elon Musk wants to go to Mars, are they using advanced materials to build these cheaper, better, faster rockets?
Carlo Iorio 11:55
They should, they should. Elon Musk made another choice for the moment about the use of their rocket. So he went back to steel.
Michael Rosenberg 12:04
But he's wrong, he gotta go to Advanced Materials?
Carlo Iorio 12:07
No, no, no, it does not mean he is wrong. The point is that, you know, you will need a lot of different stuff. So for example, for a satellite, you will need the hydrogen tanks or gas tanks in order to orbit the orbit, you will need the membranes because astronauts are who will breathe or will produce, so you should filter, and, for example, graphene is one of the materials that has proven to be largely effective respect to the usual material for filtering. So you would need to protect against radiation. So, for example, you would need, now there are researching boron nitrate, but also polyethylene for more polyethylene, high density polyethylene. Without considering, now, I don't want to confuse people with chemical terms. Perylene is one of the enabling materials that has been used in the history of space. So it was a material that was developed in the mid-19th centuries, but then a NASA enhanced reformulated, remodulated and the it is the best material ever, that allowed space exploration. So the point is that the space is not only, you know, the forge where you create new materials, but is giving the challenge to the scientist on ground, because it has the harshest environment ever.
Michael Rosenberg 13:32
And then they say that some things that were developed by NASA later had tremendous application here on earth. For example, Velcro, which is not very serious, but it's very useful. Are we going to invent stuff for space with Frontier materials, which are going to then save the Earth?
Carlo Iorio 13:48
This is what the history of space exploration has already proven. Consider that if we have sunglasses, now, sunglasses are one of the consumer products that actually was developed for the Apollo program. But even the drill, battery drill. So this was, it looks like, you know, not the high technology. But this is also one of the reasons space is important because you can develop products that maybe are not, you know, the wonder of the wonder, but that you would never ever develop this without having space research.
Michael Rosenberg 14:29
Now Soroush. You know, Carlos talking about space, and you're talking about linings for fuel lines in heavy trucks. What's the connection between you two and are you guys working on some of this kind of really cool advanced stuff? Are you more in the real world, making, you know, products and building factories and growing a business?
Soroush Nazarpour 14:50
Well, in our business, we have the sales team that sells real staff and we have already spent the money and that's what they spend the money on. So, for instance, we are developing a program that is a kind of Canadian space agency. We are developing landing gears for Mars rover with the, with the graphene. And these things are in the landing gear, you had carbon fiber for a long time. That's why people are going to graphene and see how graphene is functioning there. But we also develop things that are for the future of course, there's a small chunk of our business for those types of R&D, because you know, we are a public company, we have quarters always coming and we have to show profit all the time. But in reality, we developed some small things like that. Majority of our development is consumer product is customer products like we we go through the validation process, very long for the new materials, no typically materials take like 50 years to get into the market, graphene has been very fast in comparison, but it's still from the first time you see a client till you have the product in the hands of them takes about two and a half years to three years then it goes through a lot of different cycles. That's what our R&D is doing is supporting those types of programs.
Michael Rosenberg 16:02
Especially for something like a bumper, which has to have regulatory approval and all this kind of stuff, like crash test. And just to stick with you on graphene, I know there's lots of other frontier materials. What's your guess? Where is graphene going? Is it as it hit? Is it in its place? Or is the sky the limit and are we going to see this thing just go through the roof?
Soroush Nazarpour 16:23
Well, none of us have a crystal ball. But the reality is, we think, in 2023-2024, graphene rock is entering into a hockey stick, that there is a lot of increased demand. So I don't know how steep the hockey stick is and what is the end of it, I mean, when is it going to end. But the reality is the market has been suffering for a long time, because of limited supply. Very expensive material. At the same time, regulation was a problem. So companies in the world, including us, went through bringing the volume and bringing the cost down and also passed through those regulatory steps. We are the only company that has the EPA for the graphene cell in the US, we have Health Canada we have reach. So this and many of the companies are also doing that. When you can actually use the product and it's certified, the volume starts to grow. And that's what we think is happening.
Michael Rosenberg 17:17
Because all your graphing production is in Montreal, right?
Soroush Nazarpour 17:18
Yeah, all the production is in Montreal, the rest of the plants are doing graphene enhanced composite products, plastics, composite, those types of things.
Michael Rosenberg 17:25
Fantastic. I will go to any questions from the audience in just a minute. Just one question which came up in the panel the other day, how much does graphene cost? And do you sell graphene in bulk, or do you only sell enhanced products?
Soroush Nazarpour 17:39
No, no, we also sell in bulk. So we sell it for between 10,000 to 12,000 US dollars per one tonne of graphene. So the pricing is now comparable to other types of chemicals out there. Graph carbon fiber at 14,000.
Michael Rosenberg 17:55
Carbon fiber costs 2000, graphene costs 10,000.
Soroush Nazarpour 17:59
No carbon fibers 14,000 or 10,000. Graphene now we're selling at 12,000.
Michael Rosenberg 18:03
So you're cheaper than carbon fiber, cheaper, better, stronger, lighter.
Soroush Nazarpour 18:07
That's cool how you get market share from the big boys.
Michael Rosenberg 18:11
Fantastic questions from the audience. I can't see very well. As I look out to the audience, I see a man with a phone. But that's not a question. That's a man taking a picture. I've got more questions. But I think it's more interesting to hear from you guys. And we have microphones available if you do have a question. Yeah, very quiet audience today. We were talking about health and vaccines. And you had a great answer when I wanted to ask you about health because, you know, my wife is an organic natural kind of person. And she's like anything, which is kind of chemical. She's like, no. What's the answer to that whole story?
Soroush Nazarpour 18:51
Well, we have the scientific based answer which we went through EPA testing for FDA and for reach. So you have to go through a lot of different types of testing like dermal sensitivity, inhalation, like genotoxicity, chromosomal aberration, all sorts of interesting words that means bad things happen if you use graphene. So graphene actually went through the testing, we have published an article on that. It passed all the regulatory tests and we think it's actually pretty safe to use. Now, in other words, when you look at, for instance, FDA, you're going to you're thinking about the migration. So you want to add the food packaging, you don't want this to go to your food, that's a different set of testing, but graphene by itself is safe to use. But also there were a lot of things about the masks, right. So we say it is not wise to have it close to your mouth, because in the end it's powder is fine powder, right? You don't want to breathe dirt or dust for a long time.
Michael Rosenberg 19:52
Okay. Thank you very much. I think we have a question here. And Tony, you have a microphone for the lady. Thank you so much. And then if you could say who you are and where you're from a little bit,
PUZZLE X Attendee 20:02
My question is that I see a lot of potential for graphene. For the diluting fluids, lubricants for, for reducing pressure now for colon, but the one of the imitation is the motion, the compatibility of emotion in freight and the other in order to avoid the deposition of particles. And the other is, what about the color? Is it necessary to be black, or is it possible to have it in another way?
Michael Rosenberg 20:43
I think if I understand the questions about the potential applications of, of graphene in fluids, but then there's problems of emotion, there's problems of color, there's problems of if the particles get in the wrong place in the fluid, I don't know, probably you have an opinion,
Carlo Iorio 20:58
I just want to say, for the position, so sedimentation, that's why we're going to space, so study exactly this.
Michael Rosenberg 21:05
So we can do that in space, because there's no gravity
Soroush Nazarpour 21:07
Yeah. So on Earth, for instance, the way we use it and add it to the composite is we have within our factories, we have all these pipes that circulate all the time, so you don't let the product settle it keeps going. And this is very typical. For instance, people add calcium carbonate to the composites and just make sure you don't want it to settle because it's a problem, right? So the polyester resin is constantly circulating. And so they don't have the sedimentation problem. But the second question is about the color. Everyone thinks graphene is black and makes everything black, but graphene has a low tinting factor versus carbon So it doesn't make things as black as carbon black, which is a black pigment. We know that, let's say one 2% loading level, you actually can color graphene to all the main colors now. Really, really, really white is a problem. But you can get red and blue and yellow and all sorts of colors.
Michael Rosenberg 22:12
Because you're only using a little bit of graphene?
Soroush Nazarpour 22:15
At 1% Carbon Black, it is black. At 1% graphene, there could be different colors. That’s the tinting factor. So it doesn't make it that black like a carbon black.
Michael Rosenberg 22:27
Fantastic. More questions. Yeah. Antonio can come back and let this gentleman ask a question. And sir, if you can introduce a little bit, who you are and what organization you're with. But Antonio is gonna hold on to the microphone.
PUZZLE X Attendee 22:43
Thank you very much. My name is Pedro Gomez Romero. I work for ICE and also the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience andNanotechnology. I'm a local, I'm involved in graphene and I was wondering about the procedures you use for the fabrication? And if that is not, if that is secret, what are your standards? Standardization? How reproducibly you get the number of layers? Because graphene is nothing. You need to give a number of layers with a standard deviation. Can you do that for a product like graphene?
Michael Rosenberg 23:25
Thank you very much. The question, as I understand is, how do you make this stuff? And we've all heard about the scotch tape, you know, and the pencil, but how do you make the stuff at scale? And if it's a secret, don't tell us a secret? Or we promise not to tell anybody?
Soroush Nazarpour 23:37
Well, for sure, we don't have too many people doing this. Like for a large volume. The reality is we use a liquid exfoliation process. It's a base milling system, which is a water base at room temperature, we don't have any exotic chemicals, we don't have any, it's just a very smart chemistry in the way that you try to get natural flake graphite in a powder. We don't have expanded or expandable that we buy, we actually buy a normal one. So our chemistry in one step is like popping the graphite like a popcorn and then you apply the shear and it's actually opened up. Nothing is out there, which is so this is a technology that we produce. Now you asked about the standard and the QC, so there is nothing out there. So we build our own QC methods, right? QC, quality control matters. The thing is you're making powder, so you want to make sure it's a batch process especially you want to make sure all the time you're making the same powder. Now, we don't control the number of layers because realistically, it's not possible because you can only do ramen takes forever, there is no other technique or you can do microscopy but that is also super expensive, but we use a combination of BET similar techniques to measure the surface area. And also we use a kilo of product a kilo. So a combination of surface area and yeah, so that's how we do that. You can also see one thing: the majority of our cells are coming from graphene enhanced plastics, graphene enhanced composite. So the key is to have the same performance at the end of the product level than to have the same power. It makes a big difference when the product barrier, but the variation would not be as sensitive. It's a challenge in the market and we’re aware of that.
Michael Rosenberg 25:36
Thank you very much. Now we have a question here, Antonio, we have a gentleman kind of halfway down the hallway. And Sir, Antonio is going to keep the microphone if you could just say who you are.
PUZZLE X Attendee 25:53
My question is regarding sustainability. So once you have your materials, like, for example, you just explained how those pipes are breaking with polyamide. When you go on to recycle that with the standard material, how to control how to not contaminate the other materials with a graphene? The other thing you talk about is the reach and the FDA. It was a big concern about graphene, and being those nanoparticles entering your body, like the two and then after a period of time you don't know what's happened there. Is anything related to that?
Michael Rosenberg 26:32
Thank you. I think that there's two questions here. One is, is sustainability, recyclability of these materials and particularly graphene? And then the second question, maybe back to health, Carlo.
Soroush Nazarpour 26:46
Alright. So a few things about sustainability. One is there's something called the emission intensity factor, EIF. So, for every tonne of graphene produced how many tons of CO2 is emitted, right? When you look at the let's say we replace a lot of carbon black, right carbon black is at three so every tonne of carbon black, you have three tons of CO2, well, we produce about point 4.5 So it's very negative in terms of CO2 emissions. So that is the sustainability part at the powder level. The second thing is the recycling. So what we saw graphene does a few very interesting things in the recycling and that's what we have seen in there with the customers. One is that it increases the adaptability of different sources of the PCR
Michael Rosenberg 27:30
Post consumer research consumer resin that's what the industry calls recycled plastics.
Soroush Nazarpour 27:34
So when you add graphene and if you have different streams of PCR, there have a much better adaptation. Customers like it because they're not that dependent on the supplier. That's number one. The second thing is that it increases the life of the recycled plastic. So when you add to the graphene normally plastic goes through one twice, goes to the landfill can extend that by like four or five, six times even in cases something called OIT, oxygen induction time, it protects plastic from reducing and oxidative, okay,
Michael Rosenberg 28:06
Because the little bits of graphene are deeply embedded in the plastic exactly hydrocarbons there. It's not just like floating around on the surface, it's deep inside. And that's what makes the plastic last longer and gives it more recyclability.
Soroush Nazarpour 28:21
And the last one is I know we have not too much though is the landfill. So plastics going to landfill are mostly because the flow of the plastic is that they can't really process anymore. So graphene lubricating properties brings the plastic that was supposed to go to landfill obsolete, so it is an upcycling process. You can actually get the graphene and go back to auto application, something that was ready to go to landfill. Okay, so these are the types of things for sustainability and recycling. You asked about health concerns, right? Graphene's first fear was inhalation because it's fine powder goes too long. We didn't see that and when it was done with the Charles River test, there was no sign of toxicity or inhalation problem of any sort. Surprising for us, too. We expected something like that. But this is if you think about passing the bloodstream and just getting to the different organs. That is more of a graphene oxide discussion than graphene. Normally, if your graphene is also a little bit thicker than your single double layer, we make six to 10 layers, so it's a bit thicker as well, you don't see that potential impact. Now, we've never seen a single double layer graphene pass and do the same thing. We heard about that. We've never seen that. But we think actually graphene is pretty safe for use in different ways.
Michael Rosenberg 29:41
Let me just go back to Carlo. Just real quick, Carlo. What's your view of the future of advanced materials in space? So is this just going to go up like a hockey stick, that Soroush talked about or are we already there?
Carlo Iorio 29:53
I really guess so, because actually, as I was saying, space exploration is a history of material science. Moreover, just for the satellites, we should expect in the next 10 year, the connections in the outer space of satellites. So these will become services. Maybe there will be some sort of, you know, maintenance satellites that will go and repair shops and space junk. That they should bring lightweight materials and go robotically and change parts automatically. This is what we're also we are envisaging on and I think that materials like graphene but all frontier materials, and we have also seen since our maybe can really grow at exponential rate. and then as the Turlough Iorio
Michael Rosenberg 30:42
Carlo Iorio and Soroush Nazarpour, thank you so much for coming today. And thank you for joining us at PUZZLE X!