The European Union is investing one billion euros into commercialising a new material that they believe could change the world.
Graphene – which is as thin as paper but as strong as steel – could revolutionise technology and have a major impact on aging oil and gas installations.
The material – a form of carbon in a one-atom-thick layer – has the potential to underpin new disruptive technologies, substituting materials used in existing applications and also leading to radically new markets and applications.
The EU has announced that Graphene is one of two “Flagship” projects.
The Flagship aims to take graphene and related layered materials from the realm of fundamental science to industrial and societal applications in the space of ten years.
Novel composites, more efficient batteries and new types of sensors are examples of technologies that will benefit from graphene and related materials in a variety of fields: from energy to automotive technologies, and from chemical processes to aerospace, where it is expected to make planes lighter and more energy efficient.
It could also be used to make paint which prevents rust – a potentially crucial application for the North Sea.
An EU spokesman said: “The mission is to take wonder material graphene and related layered materials from academic laboratories to society, revolutionise multiple industries and create economic growth and new jobs in Europe.
“The research effort covers the entire value chain from materials production to components and system integration, and targets a number of specific goals that exploit the unique properties of graphene.
“Key applications are for instance fast electronic and optical devices, flexible electronics, functional lightweight components and advanced batteries.
“Examples of new products enabled by graphene technologies include fast, flexible and strong consumer electronics such as electronic paper and bendable personal communication devices, and lighter and more energy efficient airplanes.
“On the longer term, graphene is expected to give rise to revolutionary medical applications such as artificial retinas.”