By David Drake
Experts forecast that the consumption of graphite in all its forms will double by 2020. There will be a continued shift in world graphite markets away from amorphous natural graphite towards flake and synthetic graphite as emerging applications typically require large flakes and very high-purity. This increase will be pronounced as graphite has been recently used by CVMR® Corporation, a metal refining company, to develop blocks, sponges, lakes and powders of graphite to be used in numerous industrial applications.
Graphite is the highest grade of coal, just above anthracite, at times referred to as meta-anthracite. It is hard to ignite but can withstand heat (even absorb and store it, under right conditions) up to 3,000° C. Some of the distinguishing characteristics of graphite that makes it extremely useful to various industries are:
- Chemically inert
- Flame retardant
- Absorbs radio waves
- Absorbs gases and vapors
- High resistance to chemicals and corrosion
- High thermal and electrical conductivity
- Self-lubricating; low friction
- Stable and strong at very high temperatures
- Has the stiffness of solids and flexibility of filaments
CVMR®, in cooperation with its sister company, M-Power Corporation, has also invented a series of electricity generating units that can provide electricity from solar heat, using graphite blocks as heat collectors and storage units. This is a true paradigm shift in generating electricity from the sunlight and even from the ambient air in certain places. The units have no moving parts, use graphite to collect heat and convert it to energy without any noise, or other kinds of pollution. This is truly a game changer in the field of renewable energy. Sergiy Kovtun, CVMR®’s Director of R&D, stated: ‘Our R&D focus is now turned to the development of a commercially efficient and viable production of graphene, at highly competitive prices.”
The company does not fit the old-fashioned metal refining classifications. It refines rare earth elements, platinum group of metals, lithium, silver, gold, copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, tantalum, titanium, molybdenum and a host of other metals. It can neutralize and stabilize naturally occurring arsenic and mercury as it refines gold, silver and copper. CVMR® announced last year that it had developed two new ways of producing Graphite and Graphene: 1) By way of Anthracite beneficiation using far less energy in the operation than current processes require, and 2) By cracking methane gas.
CVMR® does all these using its proprietary processes and vapor metal technologies, all developed in-house. The genesis of CVMR® goes as far back as 1990s. The Chairman and majority shareholder of the company, Kamran M. Khozan, is the visionary who started the company with one major aim in mind, “to mine and refine metals without damaging the environment.” But, he is quick to remind us that without his colleagues, CVMR® could not have achieved its goals.
CVMR® team responsible for the development of the Graphite products, in the Toronto plant. From left to right, Mohammad Al Quayyum, Elect.Eng. (Director Productions); Sergiy Kovtun, M.Chem.Eng. (Director R & D); Sydney Lu, M.A. (Director Administration); Mick O’Meara, MBA (Head of Marketing); Kamran M. Khozan (Chairman and CEO); Nanthakumar Victor Emanuel, P.Eng. (Chief Operating Officer); Paula Milinkovic, P.Eng.,Chem.Eng. (Process Engineer); Miro Milinkovic, P.Eng., M.Eng. (Process Manager), and Derek Zhiwe Xie, M.Eng. (Head Mechanical Engineering & Design).
For several years now, I enjoy getting business advice from CEO Khozan. I was surprised that he is working on impact innovations specifically in the graphite industry, something which I also never expected to have applications in the field of alternative energy.
‘An understanding of graphite pricing is the key to the evaluation of synthetic graphite’s prospects in this fast expanding markets,’ says Kamran M. Khozan, Chairman and CEO of CVMR®. Today China produces 70% to 80% of the world’s graphite supply. ‘I believe that China will continue to lead the way in high-grade graphite pricing, if we in North America fall behind in our production. In the long term Chinese export prices are expected to rise because of the increasing cost of domestic production (as labor, environmental and overhead costs rise.) Their quantity of graphite available for export will decrease as China ramps up production and the export of value-added products. These factors may gradually push consumers in the rest of the world to look for alternative sources of raw material elsewhere. If my predictions are correct, CVMR® and its associates are ready to welcome this increase in demand and stable prices without the risk of political interference from China;’ indicates Kamran Khozan.
‘China was responsible for the large decline in graphite prices in the 90s as it dumped graphite on the market to earn foreign exchange. Much like their strategy with rare earth metals, this essentially killed the industry in the west and we became highly dependent on Chinese supply. It behooves us to prevent these kinds of shenanigans from repeating themselves in our markets,’ says Khozan.
New sources are constantly being uncovered for the natural graphite industry. There are vast flake resources in Mozambique and potential high-quality resources in Sri Lanka and North America. Around a quarter of all new capacity for natural graphite is in Canada. Other potential new sources are in Australia, Indonesia and Africa.
David Drake is the Chairman of LDJ Capital, a multi-family office; Victoria Partners, a 300 family office network; LDJ Real Estate Group and Drake Hospitality Group; and The Soho Loft Media Group with divisions Victoria Global Communications,Times Impact Publications, and The Soho Loft Conferences. Reach him directly atDavid@LDJCapital.com.