Southwest Research Institute hosted a meeting at its sprawling 1,500-acre campus in San Antonio on February 14th to brief some of Avadain’s stakeholders on the progress it’s made upscaling the graphene flake technology to mass production.
“It was a truly awesome meeting,” said Andrew Knott, a Harvard Business School Alumni angel investor in Avadain. “We got to meet the team doing the upscaling work and examine materials as they were transformed from graphite into high quality graphene.”
SwRI is the largest applied research institute in the US, providing contract research and development services to government and industrial clients. Founded in 1947, it has about 3,000 employees.
“I was really impressed with the progress SwRI has made,” said Yuichiro Takayanagi, Panasonic’s director on Avadain’s Board. “I have been involved with this technology since 2017 and am very happy to see us getting closer to mass production,” he added.
Other stakeholders included three representatives from the RAPID Manufacturing Institute (which is project manager for the upscaling), Tech Farms Capital and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
“It is a part of RAPID’s mission to help companies take their chemical manufacturing technology from batch to continuous production in one step,” said Ignasi Palou-Rivera, RAPID’s Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer. RAPID is a public/private partnership between the US Department of Energy and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and is a member of the Manufacturing USA network. “As the project managers, we are happy to be doing just that with Avadain’s technology.”
SwRI also updated the group on the Gen 2 reactor design, which should be operational by the end of February. Phil Van Wormer, Avadain’s Chief Commercial Officer, said it was exciting to see the next phase of the scale up work with a reactor that should be capable of producing up to 40x more high-quality graphene flakes per run than the previous reactor and in only a third to a quarter of the previous process time. “I’m looking forward to soon being able to supply our pent-up demand for samples to potential licensees and end-users,” Van Wormer added.
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(Because of confidentiality concerns, no photos of SwRI personnel or laboratory facilities are shown.)