Back in October 2018, Bernhard Münzing, the Sales Director at The Sixth Element (Changzhou) Material Technology Company, gave a talk about the development of a graphene consortium for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) at the Global Graphene Expo.
For those who are not familiar with REACH, it is a regulation within the European Union (EU) that enables companies (both inside and outside the EU) to sell large quantities of chemicals within the EU, providing they show proof that they will be safe and manage any possible risks that comes with large scale production.
For graphene, the consortium provides a way of ensuring that any company complies with the necessary safety requirements when producing over 1 tonne per annum of graphene, graphene oxide, or reduced graphene oxide.
Given that many companies are now looking to scale up the production of graphene and expand into other markets, it’s becoming an ever-increasing important area.
So, I caught up with Bernhard to see how the consortium has been progressing over the last 12 months and what is needed going forward.
Developments over the last 12 months and further prospects
The consortium has seen some member growth over the last 12 months, which is helping to produce a more accurate and global-view documentation by them imparting their own specific expertise and experience.
A lot of work has been put in to developing and implementing new nano-regulations into existing dossiers, and work is undergoing to create a dossier for the registration of a tonnage band of more than 1000 tonnes per annum.
It should be noted that this is a developing process and a lot of the work is currently ongoing, but some of the studies that have been developed over the last year or so are ready to be commissioned.
While new companies are bringing in new ideas and information, the consortium is working hard to broaden the collective knowledge, while ensuring that studies are not repeated by companies.
Such a move is helping the consortium, and member companies, to reduce costs and focus efforts to key areas.
While everything is going well, more companies who are active within the consortium will help to produce more accurate documentation and make graphene production safer.
Outside of the graphene industry itself, Bernhard suggests that a global graphene association would be useful, as it could help the likes of the NGA and other national associations to communicate on the different regulatory procedures being put in place, as well as provide a global voice for the multi-national companies.
Finally, it was suggested that it would be useful to get some other big industry involved — be it the chemical, graphite or carbon black industries — as these industries tend to have more swaying power with politicians, NGOs, and regulatory bodies and could advocate for graphene on many fronts.
U.S. companies in the REACH consortium
Their consortium is already an international affair with companies from Europe, North America and Asia all being involved.
However, there is only one U.S. company — Global Graphene Group — in the graphene consortium, but it is something that has been beneficial for them with big news coming out recently stating that they have added more REACH certified (graphene-based) products.
While the use of graphene in products is a separate area to graphene production, they are also actively involved with the graphene consortium.
As a U.S. company in the consortium, they play an active role in helping to shape the procedures in place for handling graphene in Europe.
So, if any U.S. companies are even thinking about expanding their markets and looking to sell in the EU down the line, then becoming a part of the graphene consortium could not only provide U.S. companies with insights and the best procedures to start selling in EU markets, they can also take an active role in shaping the consortium that will ultimately help the U.S. graphene industry to become a global market.
With no extra barriers to entry than EU countries, it’s possible we could start to see more U.S. companies in the consortium as graphene end-use applications advance further.
Those interested in joining the consortium should reach out to Bernhard directly.