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50 Best Companies to Watch 2020

A versatile nanomaterial producer for the manufacturing industry: STANDARD GRAPHENE Inc.

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Nanomaterials can be defined as materials that possess, at minimum, one external dimension measuring 1-100nm. There are certain instances where the nanomaterials can occur, for example, as by-products of combustion, or materials can be produced intentionally through engineering to perform a certain specialized function. These materials are known to have different chemical and physical properties to their bulk-form counterparts. The use of nanomaterials can span across different industries due to their ability to be generated in a particular way to play a specific role. For example, the healthcare industry uses nanomaterials in various ways, with drug delivery being one of the major uses. In the aerospace segment, nanomaterials are used to morph aircraft wings.

Graphene is a nanomaterial that’s 200 times stronger than steel. It is highly electro- and thermal-conductive, and flexible when it is at a single atom layer level. These characteristics make graphene an ideal material for replacing or supplementing other materials in many industries, from healthcare to aerospace technologies. Moreover, since graphene is made of carbon sourced from graphite, the material is environmentally friendly and sustainable. Just like previously groundbreaking materials such as iron or crude oil, graphene will revolutionize human life by breaking the barriers of human knowledge and progress, which current materials have not been able to achieve.

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In light of the above, we introduce you to STANDARD GRAPHENE Inc., a South Korean-based graphene-producing company founded in 2012, offering its customers unrivaled service through the provision of industrial-usage graphene of the highest quality, at the most competitive costs.

In conversation with Jounghoon Lee, the Founder and CEO of STANDARD GRAPHENE Inc.

Q. What is the industrial usage of this material? Do you think graphene has a sustainable future?

STANDARD GRAPHENE is currently focused on developing graphene applications in various fields, including batteries, coatings and paints, construction materials, compounding, household goods, and most notably our latest water filtration systems, which are able to deliver higher efficiency and lower costs than traditional methods, through use of our exclusive material, Super Graphite. Graphene, as a nanocarbon material, can be used in water treatment systems. I believed that graphene could be even more impactful than activated carbon, the incumbent material. We began testing and found very consistent results, which allowed us to introduce a new and greatly improved water treatment technology. We place sustainability and social responsibility at the helm of our mission; therefore, our graphene products will always focus on improving the well-being of humans and society. The market is growing at a healthy rate, and we will undoubtedly see more widespread usages of this material in many other areas.

Q. Explain your company’s successful journey to date.

STANDARD GRAPHENE’s story began in 1996 in South Korea, in the field of nanotechnology research. In 2004, when graphene was discovered, our efforts naturally transitioned to this specific revolutionary new nanomaterial, as it was clear that it would revolutionize the world. We quickly became one of the world’s leading pioneers in this material, and in 2009, we built the world’s first mass production graphene plant. Our focus is on high-grade graphene flakes and powder, rather than the more common CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition, film type) processed form, which has shown to pose issues and disadvantages in its applications for industry. Today, in 2020, our graphene plant in South Korea is one of the very few plants in the world that is capable of producing this high-quality graphene at a large scale. We are the first graphene producer to qualify for many important certifications, such as the National Sanitation Foundation for water treatment materials, and the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary, which has listed our graphene as an ingredient in skincare.

Q. How efficient was your research before making the highest grade next-gen materials as your mission?

Our first research in the nanocarbon field started in the ’90s, and it took us about 24 years to get to where we are now. Similar to what other pioneers have gone through, we devoted tremendous time and resources to develop something that did not exist before. Our goal wasn’t to make our research efficient; rather, it was to build a whole new technology that would change the world. We knew from the beginning that we would be challenged by many obstacles, and it goes without saying that we have gone through countless mistakes and failures along our journey. We believe that the exploration of new paths always entails some level of inefficiency. A long period of nanocarbon research helped us to smoothly transition our field to graphene, upon its discovery. We wouldn’t have been a forerunner in the market if we had only chased after efficiency. Therefore, we may not have been the most efficient researchers, but we were able to eventually create our graphene mass production technology in our own way.

Q. Graphene is assumed to be the next eco-friendly material. STANDARD GRAPHENE being the best quality producer of graphene, did you observe any disadvantages and usage restrictions of this material?

We are constantly researching and improving the quality of our materials. And, as with every new material that has not yet become commonplace in the world, it takes a very long time to test its applications in products and to present these results to potential partners and customers. This was also one of the reasons why we moved from being a pure material manufacturer to actual development of graphene-based products, because we realized that we had to take the lead in introducing graphene to the market, rather than wait for investors to come to us – which would have delayed our growth significantly. Graphene is a truly remarkable material, with the potential to make an outsized impact on so many applications, in so many industries around the world. Of course, we are always encountering new and exciting challenges and we eagerly welcome the collaboration of other researchers and producers of graphene to tackle them.

Q. What is your stand for human and environmental safety?

In terms of safety to human health, all test results have been excellent. For example, the Acute Oral Toxicity Test shows that our graphene is as safe as wheat flour or the phosphoric acid used in soft drinks – which means it is virtually harmless to the human body. Furthermore, we recently became the first graphene producer ever to receive NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certificates for our products, qualifying our graphene to be used in both household water filters and industrial water treatment plants. Moreover, the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary (ICID) listed our products under “graphene” – marking the first time in history that this term appears in this dictionary, opening the doors for applications of the material in the skincare and beauty industry. Another recognition has been made by the KRISS, (Korean Institute of Standards and Science) naming our products as Certified Reference Materials (CRM). This means our graphene will be used as the reference substance when testing the performance of all BET-measuring equipment, which measure materials through the gas absorption method. With these achievements, we can certainly see how our efforts to achieve the highest quality are beginning to pay off.

Q. What are your future plans for the development of your company?

In the near future, we will remain focused on water treatment. We strive to become a prominent player in the water filtration industry, because water is the fundamental need of human beings. There is a lot of good to be done by us by contributing towards making water treatment more accessible to people who need it the most. After that, we have our eyes on aerospace – specifically, using graphene to make spacecraft lighter, more durable, and capable of reaching farther into space than mankind has ever gone before. After all, this entire journey began when I was a college student, when I first witnessed the vastness of space on a large color TV screen at the Smithsonian Museum in D.C., and began to wonder if we could find answers about our origins out there in the cosmos.

Meet the leader behind the success of STANDARD GRAPHENE Inc.

CEO Joung-Hoon Lee is an innovator, entrepreneur, and humanist working on the application of new materials for the advancement of societal progress, and towards solutions to the world’s problems. He is the CEO and Founder of STANDARD GRAPHENE Inc., where he and his team research and produce graphene applications to address humankind’s most pressing needs, such as the provision of clean water for all. In 2010, he was named as one of 21 Global Leaders in the Clinton Global Initiative and served a Commitment to Action project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We are the leading manufacturer of high-quality graphene globally, the first company to mass-produce graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide and offer these products to our customers.”