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Functional Foams and Coatings

Sustainable solutions with graphene and layered materials

The Graphene Flagship objectives align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as well as the European Green Deal and Horizon Europe Missions. The Functional Foams and Coatings Work Package investigates how to combine graphene and layered materials into functional products, such as foams and coatings, for environmental applications.

For example, we designed graphene-enabled membranes for water filtration, in line with SDG 6 for Clean Water and Sanitation. Our graphene foams combine very high porosity with attractive properties like conductivity and both thermal and mechanical stabilities. Thanks to graphene, we could provide easy access to drinkable water. Our work package also investigates new processes for water desalination and wastewater treatment. These systems use other layered materials like titanium carbide, which provides tuneability in terms of surface properties. We patented this technology, as it could find applications in other areas, like in air purification.

The Functional Foams and Coatings Work Package also designs new graphene-enabled products against corrosion. Responsible for around 3.5% of losses to the global GDP, corrosion reactions also yield unwanted chemical substances that are often toxic and contaminant. With layered materials like graphene and hexagonal boron nitride, our partners BeDimensional, Italy, and Sixonia, Germany, have developed paints and inks to fight corrosion in different industrial settings.

Furthermore, we investigate the uses of graphene foams and coatings in highly efficient sensors. Our researchers have created different tailored materials for health and environmental applications, including networks of graphene and layered materials and functionalised substances with highly tuneable properties. Some of these sensors have already started clinical trials and will likely keep advancing through the pipeline in the coming years.

From the beginning of the Graphene Flagship, we optimised our technologies for each step in the value chain, including end-users in leading industries. We have pushed towards higher technology readiness levels (TRL) between six and seven, filing patents and coordinating non-disclosure agreements with different companies, especially in the automotive sector, a pillar of the European economy.

Soon, the increased production of graphene and layered materials will lower their cost, catalysing the transformation of the technological market. Our work package combined high-impact research with real-life applications which are sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Upcoming challenges

We developed highly functional technologies for applications in water purification, air filtration, protective coatings, and sensing, among others. We want to tackle societal issues with graphene and layered materials. Our biggest challenge is bridging the gap with industry and introducing our technologies into the European market. While some issues with cost, trust, and standards remain, the Graphene Flagship will further work to guarantee the success of layered materials.

Our graphene foams and coatings for water desalination, and air and water purification, can address the demand for clean water in developing countries and help to reduce the effects of pollution.”

Xinliang Feng
Work Package Leader

Work Package Leadership

Leader: Xinliang Feng, Technical University of Dresden, Germany
Deputy: Paolo Samori, University of Strasbourg, France

Division Leadership

​Leader: Vittorio Pellegrini, BeDimensional, Italy​
Deputy: Xinliang Feng, TU Dresden, Germany

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