Gerdau, Brazilian largest steel producer, and The University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) are celebrating the successful completion of their fifth year of partnership. Their extended collaboration strongly emphasises a dedicated effort to maximise graphene’s unique properties in high-quality products, gaining significant competitive advantages across various industries.
When Gerdau sought an ideal location to work on disruptive ideas and solutions with the foremost experts in the field, the choice was clear-Manchester, a city renowned as the "home of graphene" and a historical hotbed of innovation since the industrial revolution. Gerdau’s strategic plan laid the foundation for this momentous collaboration, with a vision to diversify revenue streams through new businesses and products complementary to their core steel chain. Among these value-adding components, graphene stood out as a material with transformative potential.
Joining hands with the GEIC in early 2019, Gerdau became an early adopter in the commercialisation journey of graphene and Gerdau Graphene emerged as the group’s first advanced materials business, operating independently with its own governance and resources to foster rapid and autonomous growth. The collaboration, underscored by Gerdau’s strategic decision to deploy its Research and Development team to the GEIC, not only fuelled technical innovation but also expedited their prototyping processes. The knowledge and resources from the GEIC played a pivotal role in this advancement, and the company witnessed a significant share of revenues.
James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester and Professor of Practice, said:
"Having Gerdau as a partner to the GEIC has been rewarding for all concerned - this is a company that has a strong heritage and also continues to pioneer through Gerdau Graphene. Gerdau’s work to functionalise graphene has created a supply of material that is industry-ready and is tuned to optimise performance in the specific application requested by the customer, and we are delighted that the partnership has been part of this journey.
The unique advantage of being located here in Manchester, has enabled Gerdau to tap into the cutting-edge knowledge and resources available at the GEIC and the broader University, expediting our prototyping processes and creating an entirely new portfolio of graphene-enhanced additives and materials, opening up new markets and commercialisation opportunities."
The collaboration has allowed Gerdau to extend applications of graphene to products within Gerdau’s broader "ecosystem," reaching beyond the steel industry. The initial commercial applications were implemented in maintenance paints for the 16 Brazilian factories, packaging for construction nails, and mineral additives for projects involving key customers and partners in the state of Minas Gerais, located in the southeastern region of the country.
Alexandre Corrêa , Executive Director of Gerdau Graphene, also shared his satisfaction for the ongoing partnership: "Our partnership with the GEIC marked our starting point in this journey into specialty chemicals and the development of novel additives with graphene. Our first research into material dispersion and our first application development into industrial paints were all started at the GEIC. From these projects we expanded into a vast network of over 6 laboratories in the UK and Brazil and strategic partnerships with clients and graphene suppliers having Manchester and the GEIC as a critical hub for our technical development. This network has turned graphene into a reality here in Latin America, leading to the development of several novel family of Additives and Masterbatches which we are currently selling in the region."
Gerdau Graphene has positioned itself as the first solution provider and developer of industrial scale additives focused on the incorporation of graphene in the Americas, bringing a unique blend of products and services to the market. This strategic move enables the company to make significant contributions to the development of graphene-enhanced products including polymers, paints and coatings, mineral additives, chemical additives, lubricants, and masterbatches. The incorporation of graphene in their products gives Gerdau Graphene a competitive edge, ensuring unmatched performance gains and benefits compared to conventional additives, in addition to generating a significant impact on sustainability, The five-year partnership between Gerdau and GEIC facilitated rapid progress in the development of new graphene applications, showcasing the potential of collaborative efforts in driving technological innovation. Through their collective pursuit of disruptive ideas and inventive solutions, both companies have contributed significantly to the advancement of the graphene industry. As they continue to work in tandem, members of the GEIC are scheduled to visit Gerdau’s facilities in Brazil in November, further solidifying their enduring partnership and underlining their commitment to developing graphene applications.
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