MRL Corporation has received outstanding results from test work for scalable graphene production on its Sri Lankan graphite properties. The results provide a significant boost to the already-robust economics of MRL’s high-grade projects.

Key observations made in a report presented to the company were:

  • The tests were conducted to check for the amenability of the ore for single step extraction of graphene.
  • The quality of the prepared graphene from MRL’s graphite is outstanding and comparable with the quality of graphene prepared by synthetic routes.
  • MRL’s graphite has very high crystalline carbon content not observed in any other previously tested graphite materials.
  • A number of processes were tested with electrochemical exfoliation providing the best results. This process route was stated to be scalable and therefore suitable for commercial scale production of single and few layered graphene directly from the graphite ore.

The company will now consider the merits of producing both graphite and graphene in its development plan. Discussions will be initiated with a number of research organizations to optimize that route to production.

The Combined Thermal and Mechanical Process is used to isolate graphene directly from raw graphite (after milling) and without having to produce graphene oxide. This test generated single layered graphene sheets with excellent quality and low defects, which was confirmed by the Raman shift curve.

The quality of graphene prepared by this method is comparable with graphene prepared by the synthetic method and the best quality graphene available on the market from few suppliers.

The electrochemical method is another promising method for the direct and scalable production of graphene from raw graphite. Graphene was successfully extracted from raw MRL graphite using direct electrochemical exfoliation without having to purify the material. The quality of graphene (single to several layer thickness and low defects) prepared by this method is comparable with graphene prepared by synthetic method.

The thermal treatment and electrochemical exfoliation of raw graphite is much more efficient to produce bulk graphene as it is a fast process, without the use of toxic chemicals minimizing waste and more importantly produces graphene with outstanding quality, as confirmed by Raman characterization. Both of these processes are also scalable and can be implemented into industrial production.

MRL’s managing director Craig McGuckin said these results had been a significant advancement in the company’s steady march towards production and development of high end graphite and graphene products.

“While we had always been confident our Sri Lankan graphite would produce high quality, low defect graphene it is an excellent result to have this independently confirmed. From Run of Mine ore through to spherical graphite for lithium ion batteries to the production of graphene, all the material we can mine can be sold into traditional and high value markets. This places MRL in a position unequalled by graphite projects in any other country.”

Meanwhile, MRL has accepted firm commitments for a $1 million raising through a share placement to sophisticated investors. The raising involved placement of 25 million shares to sophisticated investors from Australia, Europe and Asia. The proceeds will be used to progress development of MRL’s high-grade graphite projects in Sri Lanka.

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