A new business created to develop innovative high-performance rubbers, and other soft materials enhanced with graphene, will launch from the University of Manchester.

Grafine Ltd was founded by two University of Manchester academics, Dr Maria Iliut and Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan. Both are world experts in graphene, and its use in making rubbers and elastomers stronger and more durable.

The company will be based at The University of Manchester’s Innovation Centre on Grafton Street and will use the University’s world-class facilities including the brand-new Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) for its product development work.

Elastomers and rubbers are used world over in products such as tyres, shoes, gloves, industrial components, construction materials, coatings and medical devices.

The global market size for rubber and elastomer products is forecast to be more than £70 billion by 2021.

Grafine Ltd is looking to exploit the potential of this massive global market and has already excited interest from global manufacturers of elastomer and rubber products. Grafine is currently negotiating development contracts with such companies.

“We are very excited to launch Grafine Ltd because we have the specialist skills and know-how to help global manufacturing companies use new 2-dimensional materials like graphene effectively and cheaply,” said Dr. Vijayaraghavan, who has been at the forefront of research into graphene for more than a decade.

“Businesses in many sectors are continually striving to improve the properties of elastomeric compounds in order to enhance product performance in both existing and new applications.

Graphene can further enhance the already excellent properties of rubber and elastomers by improving their strength, elasticity, flexibility, thermal stability, resistance to chemicals and durability. With the support of Grafine Ltd, manufacturing companies will be able to give product designers even greater flexibility when they create new products.

Dr. Iliut, the academic co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Grafine, added: “Our business, Grafine Ltd, offers a range of consultancy services to companies wishing to exploit the benefits that these nano-materials can bring to their elastomeric products and coatings. Grafine will also sign commercial deals to license its know-how and patents allowing knowledge and technology transfer to its industrial customers.”