Graphene has been dubbed a “miracle” material, being around 200-times stronger than steel, transparent and able to efficiently conduct heat and electricity.
But finding the best way to use it is actually a tough job, with trial and error needed to find the best products to adapt it to.
Founded 12 years ago, its aim is to design a system to produce graphene in a “sustainable, simple and a scalable way”, which it has now achieved, and adapt it to a wide-range of products.
The company’s graphene products have caught the eye of numerous businesses, having secured a raft of deals across the globe this year.
New deals in textiles
One of the most recent deals Directa Plus has announced is with Oakley and Bioracer, which used the company’s Graphene Plus (G+) to launch a cycling jersey in early July.
The G+ Graphene Aero Jersey was treated with G+, which helps to regulate body temperature, reduce sweat and body odour.
In October, the company won a €500,000 order for high-end workwear.
That followed a July order technical clothing incorporating G+ from Alfredo Grassi.
Alfredo Grassi is one of Italy’s largest workwear suppliers and Directa Plus believes at €700,000 it was the largest order yet, anywhere, for graphene-enhanced textiles.
G+ will also be used to treat a range of jeans made by Arvind, one of India’s top textile groups.
Arvind makes six million pairs of jeans every year using 100mln metres of fabric for household name brands such as Levi’s, Tommy Hilfilger, Wrangler and Gant and has established a reputation for innovation.
G+ will be infused into the denim fabric to give the denim effects such as such as “thermal regulation, heat dissipation, energy harvesting, data transmission and no odour”.
The range was launched in Amsterdam in October.
Meanwhile, Directa Plus is developing a range of graphene-enhanced luxury accessories as part an exclusive contract with an existing customer worth €130,000.
But the G+ compound has wider applications than textiles.
Partnerships in transport, oil and gas
Directa Plus said in April that it is working with Marangoni –one of Italy’s leading re-tread companies –to produce better performing tyres for commercial buses and lorries.
The company believes the G+ compound will increase grip, durability and fuel efficiency as well as extend the life of a tyre.
In the oil and gas sector, the firm has joined forces with Italian firm Sartec Srl to develop a commercial-scale industrial system using its graphene-based Grafysorber product for treating oil-contaminated produced water.
The agreement follows initial joint research over the last eight months during which extensive tests on the Grafysorber product were successfully carried out.
Since the agreement, the first phase of industrial field testing of Grafysorber has been completed.
The test was to remove petroleum hydrocarbons from the water produced as a by-product from oil and gas wells so that it can be reused.
Romanian group OMV Petrom said the quality of water improved using Grafysorber.
First manufacturer to use Directa’s products
Vittoria was the first manufacturer to use Directa’s products, firstly in a carbon fibre wheel, and then in “intelligent” bicycle tyres.
These stay very hard when rolling, but soft when braking, and were used at the Rio Olympics, where cyclists won four medals using them.
Last December Directa Plus an order to supply 250 kilos of G+ for incorporation into Vittoria's range of graphene-enhanced bicycle tyres and wheels.
But it was the results of a trial in September that saw the world’s first road has been resurfaced with a supermodifier containing the company’s graphene that casught the market’s attention.
Ecopave, which is based on Directa’s Graphene Plus graphene product, has been laid on a section of Rome’s Strada Provinciale Ardeatina.
Directa has developed Ecopave with Iterchimica, an Italian-based maker of products that enhance asphalt performance, which claims it can boost the life of a road from 6-7 years to between 12-14.
At 50p, Directa is valued at £21.5mln.