This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Independent Senior Research Associate at Memoori.
As part of the Building Internet of Things (IoT) trend, sensors are being mounted everywhere - on ceilings, walls, desks or incorporated into lighting fixtures at a rapid rate. In view of their proliferation, a new graphene-based solution in which sensors are embedded in building panels and structural elements could have a positive impact on the building fabric.
Graphene is made of a single layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a repeating pattern of hexagons. It is a 2 dimensional material with amazing characteristics, which have led to it being labelled as a “wonder material”. It is extremely strong and almost entirely transparent and also astonishingly conductive and flexible.
A recent alliance demonstrates that graphene is close to reaching commercial scaleability in smart building applications. Versarien plc, the UK advanced materials engineering group, is collaborating with AXIA Materials Co., Ltd, a South Korean composite materials manufacturer, to develop graphene enhanced composite materials and smart graphene devices using both Versarien's proprietary Nanene graphene nano platelets and proprietary Graphinks graphene inks.
Versarien will initially work with AXIA on two projects, one of which involves Smart Buildings. Versarien’s Graphinks will be used to incorporate sensors and thermal devices into composite building panels and Versarien’s Nanene will be used to develop graphene enhanced materials which will be used in structural composites.
Versarien announced the formal launch of Graphinks, the latest addition to
its range of commercially available 2D materials, in June 2018. Produced by the Company's subsidiary, Cambridge Graphene, Graphinks is a range of high performance, electrically conductive, graphene inks suitable for a wide range of printing processes, substrates and applications, including flexible electronics and antennas.
AXIA develops advanced thermoplastic composite material solutions under its LiteTex brand for the automotive, sports, electronics and building sectors, and produces pre-fabricated buildings under its Pixel Haus brand.
Commenting Justin Jin, CEO of AXIA, said: "As a composite materials development and manufacturing company, our goal has been to develop multi-functional solutions which are integrated and embedded into our structural materials. With Versarien's Graphinks solutions we believe that we can integrate sensors and electric circuits into composite building materials for smart houses."