Scientist have found a way of turning edible oil into graphene, an incredibly flexible material up to 200 times stronger than steel.
Under certain conditions, it can even turn into a super-conductor, transferring electricity without resistance. This means that the material can potentially be used for making more efficient solar cells, in electronics or even medicine.
The study which was carried out a year ago determined that graphene needed to be created in a vacuum, in intense heat and by applying purified ingredients, the production of which is very expensive. The research was therefore paused until an economical way to mass produce the material could be found.
Finally, scientists in Austria have managed to create graphene in normal air conditions, using cheap edible oil.
The team calls the new technology “GraphAir”. It involves heating soybean oil in a tube furnace for 30 minutes, causing it to decompose into carbon building blocks. The carbon then cools on nickel-foils, diffusing into a thin rectangle of graphene just 1 nanometer thick (around 80,000 times thinner than a human hair).
The technique is not only up to 10 times cheaper and simpler than other methods, it’s lot quicker as well. Furthermore, it offers a more sustainable option for recycling waste oil. The study has determined that graphene can help in filling mobile phone batteries which last up to 25% longer than with the kind of chargers that are currently used.