Update on how graphene standards are progressing with Denis Koltsov

Graphene standards have been hotly debated within the industry for the last few years and there is a drive to adopt better standards as soon as possible.

These things take time and have been slowly progressing over the last few years.

I recently caught up with Denis Koltsov from BREC Solutions and the chairman of ISO TC229 (Nanotechnologies), to see what the latest updates are with regards to graphene standards around the world.

The main committee that is currently working on graphene standards is ISO TC229, the International Organization for Standardization committee that is headed by Denis, which focuses on standards for different nanomaterials.

There has also been a wealth of activity from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC TC113) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM E56), so there is a lot of work going on from multiple parties around the world to ensure that graphene standards materialize as quickly as possible (without compromising on quality).

As far as the documentation is going, technical reports are already being produced and there are several more normative (stronger) documents which are almost ready to be published which focus around the structural characterization of graphene — as both powders and dispersions, as well as CVD grown graphene and graphene oxide flakes.

A lot of progress has been made towards these documents, but more work needs to be done to confirm the different methodologies with multiple laboratories, to ensure that the results are reproducible and unambiguous.

Current challenges

Graphene standards are already needed today because of the amount of graphene companies in existence and the number of graphene products on the market — especially as there is growing interest in using graphene commercially.

However, the current issues with the coronavirus pandemic have slowed the progress of graphene standards temporarily, although this should only be a short-term thing.

The main reason being is that many laboratories and companies have been shut and have therefore not been able to do the testing.

Some of the standardization agencies have also slowed down due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the hope is that things will return to normal soon.

Looking to the future

Despite the short-term challenges, there are many positives in the pipeline for graphene standards, which will most likely manifest itself in either an ISO or an IEC international standard (there tends to be no regional standards as everyone uses the same international standard).

Standards is something that takes time, as to ensure that everything is correct, and that enables the highest quality products to be manufactured (if they adhered to).

The production of documentation to support the creation of the necessary standards is moving along as fast as it can with no slowdown to the ISO TC229 work programme.

The other positive is that there are working groups, such as the REACH graphene consortium, who are helping to navigate the regulatory aspects of large-scale graphene manufacturing and many of these studies can also be used to bolster standards documentation.

Denis believes that by the end of the year, despite the challenges currently facing the standards committees, there will be an ISO document with a technical specification (TS) status, that can be used for a certification.

It should be noted that ISO (or IEC) do not do certifications, but the TS documents can be then used by an independent certification authority to implement certification.

Like standards, certifications are not mandatory, however, it’s likely that they will become a pre-requisite over time for many graphene purchasers.