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What’s the Deal with Graphene Coatings for Cars?
The new kid on the automotive coating block is what is being marketed and sold as a graphene coating. For those not aware, graphene is technically defined as “an allotrope of carbon consisting of a single layer of atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice nanostructure.”
For those that need a translation into basic English – graphene is a thin but ultra-strong substance that has been proven to be one of the strongest elements ever created. In fact, it’s 200 times stronger than steel, lighter than paper, and with extraordinary mechanical and electrical properties.
You’re probably asking – “well, is graphene bulletproof?” Actually – yes. A study at Rice University in the Great State of Texas determined that if 300 layers of graphene were combined (about 100nm nanometers in thickness) it could stop a micro bullet traveling at three kilometers per second (that’s faster than the projectile shot out of a military M-16).
How big is a nanometer. Let’s just say that your average piece of writing paper measures 100,000 nanometers thick. So – graphene is really strong.
But that’s not the raw material included in a ‘graphene coating’.
Today’s marketed ‘Graphene Coatings’ are said to contain Graphene Oxide. This substance is a byproduct or graphene which is created by way a chemical process. And – it’s also a very good conductor of electricity. In fact, if it was added to a nano ceramic coating that works by electrically bonding to a surface, in theory – it could strengthen the bond and improve performance.
But – that’s not what’s in a graphene coating either.
The real active ingredient is Reduced Graphene Oxide or rGO. This material is a reduced form of monomolecular graphene oxide sheet, which are dispersible in solvents and water (making graphene oxide and IDEAL active ingredient to enhance a ceramic coating.
RGO on the other hand is less dispersible – and does not carry the oxygen-containing functional groups that help to strengthen electrical bonds. This material is primarily used in the production of batteries, supercapacitors, biomedical applications, and printable graphene electronics.
Some of the claims of graphene coatings (which we’ve proven above is not technically accurate) includes:
- Superior protection from grime, water spots, corrosion, and an easier application process.
- Long-lasting protection – many manufacturers claiming 10+ years of longevity through a single layer of application.
- Improved car detailing time for car owners.
- Can be infused into sprayable formulas, making them better than ceramic spray coating.
While there have been many DIY or even professional detailers testing graphene coatings, at the time of this blog being published (May 20th, 2022) – there are ZERO scientific tests or documented evidence that proves that today’s ‘graphene coatings’ last longer, offer better protection, or improve car detailing time vs a high-quality ceramic coating.
So let’s just say – in 2022 the verdict is still OUT on graphene coatings. If you want buy into the hype – without proven testing or infusing common sense into the effectiveness of these products, have at it.