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Report – Graphene supply outstrips demand


According to a new report, the global supply of graphene is significantly outstripping demand for the atom-thick material.

Discovered in Manchester, where the National Graphene Institute is based, graphene has been cited as a game-changer across multiple industries.

The new report from IDTechEx, however, says that while the global graphene and graphene oxide capacity “easily exceeds” 12k tonnes a year, take-up lags significantly behind.

“For a long time, the graphene industry would cite a “chicken and egg” scenario: large demand for their material but limited scale and challenges investing in high volume production without orders or revenue,” it stated.

“This has now been broken, IDTechEx has tracked this industry in detail for over a decade and can report that there is extensive capacity, but huge orders haven’t materialised.”

It states that one of the significant barriers in many regions was regulation, which has taken time to catch up.

“Unsurprisingly, unlike mature material markets that operate globally, nearly all graphene players have only one site and predominantly sell in their local market,” it reads.

“The geopolitical situation and heightened vulnerability of supply chains present both an opportunity and a threat to these early-stage companies.”

Another reason believed to have stalled take-up is demand itself. While there are many potential applications, each industry has taken time to assess what products are on the market and then to test and validate their use, before investing.

“Taking the bigger picture, the applications where there is a good promise and the potential for the highest sales in the long term are energy storage, polymer composites, and concrete,” the research found.

“There will be other success stories with reasonable revenue, such as in textiles, filtration membranes, coatings, and thermal management, but it is these three use cases that, if graphene were to be meaningfully adopted, can generate sales in the tens of thousands of tonnes and would redraw the commercial landscape.”

The latest update to the report, “Graphene Market & 2D Materials Assessment 2023-2033” also looks at how graphene could reshape the industry.

It points to carbon black, which now has sales volumes in the millions of tonnes. This is a consolidated market, with comparatively low margins. Multi-walled carbon nanotubes, or MWCNTs, are viewed as the “older sibling of graphene” and are used in lithium-ion batteries. This means major players have entered the market, prices have been decreased and there are significant supply chain agreements.

IDTechEx believes this could be a future for graphene in the longer term. This would begin with merger & acquisitions activity and potentially a “race-to-the-bottom in price.”

“In IDTechEx’s opinion, the long-term future is bright for graphene and will narrowly exceed US$1 billion by 2032, but many have misjudged the initial market pull and mid-term expected size. Hype is a great way to fuel industry but can easily lead to disillusionment,” concluded the report.

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