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He added that graphene is operating in a regulated environment, notably

in the production and the use and handling of such materials, and called

for businesses to agree on the necessary standards: “If we don’t have

agreed standards that you can set the industry by, then the regulatory

bodies will have to come up with the standards on their own. Anybody

who has experience in the field knows – where you have a regulated

environment, if the regulators who are regulating don’t have the

information from the producers, they come up with bad regulations.”


Barkan then turned his attention to defining graphene, quoting the journal


and an initial attempt to set some kind of standards. He

discussed how the standard definition of graphene is a ‘model layer of

carbon’, but there has subsequently been divergence as graphene has

many different layers and sizes.

He outlined the problem here: “If you look at companies that are

producing tyres for example, and they want to incorporate this material

into the product, they could be confused by all the different terminology

that’s used and the different definitions that are used … this is just a

physical description – it has nothing to do with some of the performance

characteristics of it.”

Barkan also highlighted the work of organisations already involved in

standard setting, including the UK’s National Physical Laboratory, which

is working with the Nanotechnologies Technical Committee of the

International Organization for Standardization (ISO), as well as the

International Electrotechnical Commission. He commented that it is

important to agree such standards as soon as possible, recognising that

the harmonisation of different national standards across EU countries is

sometimes a “decades-long” process: “We don’t have the time to wait

for these standards to be developed, because industry is moving much

faster than these standards are being developed, and the truth is, for

true standards to be developed and adopted, it will take many years

of discussion.

producers, rising from about 100 companies to

approximately 300. Yet, with many different

types of graphene available, leading to even

more confusion, one has to ask: “What are they

actually producing?”

End user concern

The executive director said there is also

apprehension amongst consumers in regards

to the use of graphene in place of traditional

materials; confidence in the nanomaterial is

thus a major issue.

“There is a tremendous hesitancy from the end

users, from companies that would be

incorporating these materials into their

products. From replacing the materials that they

have traditionally used, which are well

characterised, standardised and have multiple

sources of production, to switching out and

starting to use graphene-related materials – it

is a tremendous risk for them to do that.

“Another [challenge] is the question of scale,

because even though there are producers that

have been ramping up their production

capacities for really broad industrial use, we are

not quite there yet.”

Trusted standards

Consequently, the many different types of

graphene, inconsistency in production and a

lack of end user confidence are the major

barriers that need to be addressed.

“So what does this lead us to? To me it is

screaming that there is a need for standards,”

Barkan told delegates, drawing attention to

discussions he had with both potential end

users and producers at the conference who

echoed his thoughts.

“It’s within everybody’s interest to have a set of

agreed standards, metrics and characterisations

… the one word I would like to emphasise here

and why this is needed is ‘trust’. For you to have

a viable commercial market, there needs to be

trust between the buyers and the sellers about

what the product is they are getting and what

functions it’s going to perform. With standards,

we can introduce a level of trust and

transparency into the market; without these

standards, we have no trust, and without trust,

you have no commercial market.”

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L




The Graphene Council

represents over 4,600

players working with

this nanomaterial