Scheme: Industry Fellowship
Organisation: University of Exeter
Dates: Jan 2015-Feb 2019
Summary: This research aims to develop concrete-like fire-proof/insulating (refractory) materials used by metallurgical industries. The materials currently used contain large amounts of carbon, which causes several problems, including: 1) carbon contamination in metals; 2) poor insulation performance (thus heat loss); 3) use of large amounts of expensive graphite (thus high cost); and 4) low mechanical strength. To address these problems, a very thin flake-shaped material called graphene oxide (GO) has been attempted to replace its thick graphite counterparts. The research carried out during the last year has found that GO additions can accelerate the hydration of the cement used in the refractory materials as a binder and change morphologies of the compounds resulting from its hydration. This, along with the "locking-effect" from the flake-shaped GO, greatly improves the mechanical strength of the refractory materials. It is expected that the successful replacement of large amounts of graphite with small amounts of GO will eventually lead to the development of better, cheaper, more energy-saving and greener refractory materials, greatly benefiting the metallurgical industries and other related industries.In addition to its great acadmic and industrial significances, the work will have great environmental significance.