Following a grant from Innovate UK in 2020, First Graphene developed a prototype process for direct conversion of petroleum to high value graphene and graphite products, targeting the rapidly expanding energy storage market.
The Company has successfully demonstrated that the hydrodynamic cavitation technology is highly robust and can be carried out on a range of industry standard, high throughput devices. Graphite materials are rapidly obtained from petroleum feedstock in a single-step process.
Hydrodynamic cavitation is a low-impact process producing “green hydrogen” as a by-product. The hydrogen gas product is rightly classified as “green” as no carbon dioxide is produced in the reaction.
While petroleum feedstocks are typically associated with carbon dioxide as they are often combusted with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide products, this is not the case in hydrodynamic cavitation. The minimal net carbon footprint from this process is solely due to the electrical energy used for operation of the equipment, which ultimately could be provided from renewable sources.
With the rapid growth of the electric vehicle market, demand for graphite resources continues to grow, while demand for petroleum products for transport is forecast to decline. Natural graphite is listed as a critical raw material by the European Union, and routes to produce graphite from alternative sources with a low carbon dioxide footprint are particularly valuable. This process enables the large-scale manufacture of these critical raw materials from an alternative feedstock, which in this case is widely available petroleum. This presents some exciting opportunities for the petroleum industry.