After 12 weeks of full-scale trials a new wear lining material, developed by First Graphene and its partner newGen Group for use in the mining and quarrying industries, is demonstrating how graphene is transforming the properties of conventional rubber products.
The graphene-enhanced rubber wear liners are being tested in mining shovel buckets at a major iron ore mine in Australia, where they are being used alongside standard wear lining materials to demonstrate the advantages of graphene additives.
Results after 12 weeks of intensive testing are impressive, as Craig McGuckin, Managing Director of First Graphene, explains, “This is a particularly aggressive environment, where sacrificial wear liners in mining buckets, hoppers and chutes have to be replaced at frequent intervals; this leads to unwanted downtime and significantly increases operating costs. Although the trials are continuing, the initial results at the half-way stage indicate that there will be a considerable reduction in wear rates; we’re estimating an improvement of at least 100%, which will result in major cost savings for mine operators.”
The addition of graphene to elastomers can have a dramatic impact on their mechanical and physical properties. This can include, for example, an improvement of up to 500% in abrasion resistance, an increase in tensile strength by 40% and tear strength by around 50%. These enhancements can be achieved with just a 1% blend of graphene, by volume, to the rubber compound.
Craig McGuckin adds, “Although these improvements in mechanical properties are clearly of benefit in mining and quarrying operations, they are equally applicable in many other industrial applications, from rubber seals and O-rings, to power transmission and conveyor belts.”
The wear liner trials will continue as the graphene enhanced rubber progresses through qualification towards full scale commercial adoption. The multi-national mining sector is fully engaged in evaluating the performance of graphene materials across the industry.