Versarien plc (LON:VRS) Chief Executive Officer Neill Ricketts caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the major advances made at 2D-Tech and what effect this has on Versarien.
Q1: Last week you announced a very interesting development for a Versarien subsidiary, 2D-Tech, could you talk us through that?
A1: This is a fundamental step in the mass production of a very exciting product called graphene, I’m sure everyone is aware of the exceptional properties graphene can give other materials and in this case, 2D-Tech has been working with the University of Ulster and the University of Manchester to develop a way of being able to do that on an industrial scale, as a business that’s what we’re all about.
Q2: The developments in the graphene area have obviously been very exciting, can you outline some of the potential uses for graphene and when can we expect to see those being used commercially?
A2: Graphene is a fantastic material and has absolutely loads of different uses but what we tend to specialise in at the moment is on the very early wins, these are products which are going to be available in the next couple of years. At the moment that looks to be carbon fibre, it looks to being able to be used in the resins that give it some significant property changes. We are also looking at plastics, again a quick moving industry, good properties that can be built up using graphene and we’ve also got some areas of interest around batteries which are obviously being driven by consumer goods at the moment. In terms of how long that will take, we’ve got two rapid commercialisation projects going with the University of Manchester at the moment and the academics are working on those at the moment trying to get products that will get us in to market in the next year or so. In terms of what the business can do at the moment, we’re actually supply lots of OEM customers with sample-type volumes in order to get them going on this big journey around graphene.
Q3: With that in mind, where does Versarien see itself being in the graphene supply chain?
A3: Well at the moment Versarien is very much at the beginning of the supply chain, it’s creating the fundamental materials. There’s a process below us which is the raw material, which is generally coming in the form of very high purity graphite, very specific types of graphite. We then take that, we process it, we create the graphene and then working with some of our partners, we create these functionalised graphene for specific applications or we use the graphene as it is in order to just go straight in to products.
Q4: Given the advances made at 2D-Tech, does this mean that the focus of Versarien will now be predominantly on this business?
A4: No, we’ve still got huge amounts going on in the other parts of our business. We have the copper foam business, the guys are currently producing parts in the 10,000’s, it’s the first time we’ve ever got to that stage for that business and those parts are being shipped over to the US. Graphene is an important part of our business and the work that 2D-Tech has been doing we’ve sort of kept under the radar because we wanted to be sure that we were able to get some good results. We’ve had those results internally, we’ve made sure that we’ve had them tested externally as well by some of the leading people in the country and the results have been far better than we anticipated so we decided to go public with the advances that have been made.
Q5: Speaking of results, you’re due to report your group results soon, when can investors expect to see these?
A5: We’ve got a date in the diary ready and we’ll be providing our 4 year preliminary results on the 21st July.