Tuesday, June 7, 2011

If Focus Metals is valuable for it's graphite - what will graphene do for them

In case you have not heard of Focus Metals (TSXV:FMS) yet, let me say this is the most exciting company with the absolute largest potential I have ever been involved with as a shareholder. Focus Metals has a graphite project, known as Lac Knife, they are currently progressing towards production. We are starting to hear of the growth in demand for graphite more everyday. What you may not be aware of, is the fact that  there is another product, which is called graphene. Graphite is rising in price almost exponentially, and sells for up to $3,000 per ton. This dramatic increase in price is due to several factors. For many years graphite had a limited number of uses, but this has changed drastically as of late. Also there is the fact that China has controlled a large majority of the global graphite supply. China has reported that their graphite supply is reaching a point that they need to keep most of their graphite production for their own domestic use. The fact that lithium-ion battery research really made the demand grow was due to the fact that battery manufacturers discovered graphite possesses many desirable qualities. Then last year, two scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics.  "The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics - Press Release". Nobelprize.org. 7 Jun 2011.  http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2010/press.html

Now like I stated previously, graphite sells for approximately $3,000 per ton, but graphene can sell for up to $50,000 per ton. The amount of research being initiated by countries from around the world is phenomenal. The amount of uses continues to grow almost by the day, and although many of these uses are in research status right now, many have had researchers reporting that they are very close to actually using graphene in several applications.

Some of the applications graphene is being studied for include broadening the bandwidth of Optical Fiber-Based Telecommunications. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110606112816.htm
Graphene has been touted as a near miracle product by some, for instance, when we consider that, not only is it 200 times stronger than steel, but has the ability to be bendable. Theoretically this means you could talk on your smart phone then roll it up and stick it behind your ear. Now this is truly allowing ourselves to get ahead of what researchers have accomplished to-date. I view graphene in a similar way as steel when it made a revolutionary entrance into our lives. Look at plastic when it came along. Many said it would never come to be anything close, to what we now have, in respect to the multitude of uses we now have for plastic on a daily basis. Not only did we learn how useful plastic could become , but we also came to find out just how many types and grades of plastic would actually become a part of our lives. Looking back now we would, in many instances, find it extremely difficult to imagine the world without plastic. Likewise, I foresee graphite and especially graphene, just now making their entrance into what many will quite possibly look back on as, "the product that changed the world". If this were to be proven as accurate, then this leaves those looking to invest in this new technology at the ground floor for an entry. Of course this also means that graphene, just as steel and plastic which came before it, may take years of research in some areas while still other areas will likely come into being in the very near future. The one difference I do see, that makes me think graphene will progress much faster than either steel or plastic, is the enormous interest by so many sectors and industries. The amount of interest by the scientific community and the amount of money being issued for research into the possible uses of graphene is phenomenal to say the least.

The military is extremely interested in researching graphene for many possible applications, including solar power and in stealth technology. Can you even remotely imagine, just what a massive benefit it would be to the military, if planes were capable of weighing dramatically less or that they could fly virtually invisible, and that's during the daytime. The weight aspect alone would allow for a much larger payload and in military terms that could equate into an increase in weapons. At this point there are so many possibilities it is difficult to know just where graphene could truly take us.

Much has been made of graphene's potential. It can be used for anything from composite materials - like how carbon-fibre is used currently - to electronics.

Since its properties were uncovered, more and more scientists have been keen to work on projects. About 200 companies and start-ups are now involved in research around graphene. In 2010, it was the subject of about 3,000 research papers.

Samsung has been one of the biggest investors in research, in collaboration with South Korean Sungkyunkwan University. It has already demonstrated a 25-inch flexible touchscreen using graphene.
"[Samsung has its] own roadmap where they believe there will be a dozen products [on the commercial market] using graphene in the next five years," says Prof Geim.
But companies like IBM and Nokia have also been involved in research. IBM has created a 150 gigahertz (GHz) transistor - the quickest comparable silicon device runs at about 40 GHz.
"In terms of the speed of the transistor, we currently see no intrinsic limits into how fast it can go," says Dr Yu-ming Lin, of IBM.
"We've already found a number of [problems] that have to be resolved but I don't think it's limited by the intrinsic properties of graphene."

We will notice new breakthroughs, in regards to all this intense research being done with graphene, on an ongoing basis. Here is a good example of this, http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=21658.php.

I would like to return to the question asked in the heading of this article. Let us consider that Focus Metals has what truly is a world class deposit at Lac Knife. With full expectations of having this project being brought to NI 43-101 standards, and that is with little to no fluctuation in the historical values, this company has the potential to surpass even the wildest of estimations in regards to value. This becomes easily attainable if we consider that the price of graphite, 95% pure flake, is at present in the $2,500 to $3,000 per ton range, and also taking into consideration the fact that Focus Metals has 8.1MT with the potential to increase this by up to double. This is due to the property being open in several directions. Now if you want to see real value, let's take that 95% pure flake and process it to 99% plus purity, and we now have what it takes to produce graphene that meets the expectations and requirements of the technology sector as well as the research centers. Remember when I said that this type of graphite goes for approximately $50,000 per ton, and go ahead, get your calculator cranked up. I have followed some very exciting companies, but none that have shown me this much potential. What I find really intriguing is the fact that this is a product that has just started to become known, but in the words of the scientists who received the Nobel Prize in Physics for their part in graphene,

"It has been just over 2 years since graphene was first reported and, despite remarkably rapid progress, only the very tip of the iceberg has been uncovered so far. Because of the short time scale, most experimental groups working now on graphene have not published even a single paper on the subject, which has been a truly frustrating experience for theorists. This is to say that, at this time, no review can possibly be complete.
Nevertheless, the research directions explained or pencilled here should persuade even die-hard sceptics that graphene is not a fleeting fashion but is here to stay, bringing up both more exciting physics and, perhaps, even wide-ranging applications."

There is one other aspect that will, in my opinion, bring untold value to Focus Metals. That aspect is the joint venture Focus Metals CEO, Gary Economo, made public in a news release dated March 2, 2011. The impact this joint venture could have on Focus Metals is huge and is completely focused on graphene research and the licensing of any intellectual property obtained from research done by the joint venture.  http://www.focusmetals.ca/news-focus-metals/mar2-graphene-technologies.html

For those who might find this as an attractive investment possibility, I urge you to do your own due diligence. I suggest starting at the companies website which can be found at www.focusmetals.ca. Here is another link that will be of much interest and possible use, http://arxiv.org/ftp/cond-mat/papers/0702/0702595.pdf

In my opinion Focus Metals has displayed only the tip of the proverbial ice-berg at this time in terms of value. As this research on graphene progresses, and undoubtedly makes breakthroughs, the value will only increase. In the event of many uses being proven the value will start to rise exponentially.
For disclosure purposes I have not received any compensation of any kind for this post. I do own shares of Focus Metals.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for an excellent read, you're continued contribution is appreciated.