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A FAMILY-OWNED chemical firm is working with research bosses to pave the way for increased use of a wonder material in electronics. Thomas Swan & Co is supporting the National Graphene Institute ( #NGI ). The company, based in Consett, County Durham, is known for working on #graphene, which experts say is an ultra-light carbon material capable of adding toughness to plastics and cutting friction in lubricants. Swan previously tailored its work to use graphene in inks and electronics displays, but has now supplied materials for NGI to create a thermal paste using the chemical compound boron nitride.

Officials say the paste allows electronics to run at much lower temperatures, meaning high-performance products can last longer.

Andy Goodwin, Swan’s commercial director in its advanced materials division, said: “This is a great opportunity to work with world-class scientists to increase our understanding of material technologies and accelerate their adoption into real-world applications.”

James Baker, NGI graphene business director, added: “It is now important we look to scale up and develop these amazing new materials, which could have an untold impact on industry in conjunction with graphene.”

Swan began as a company in the 1920s and was known for converting steel industry slag waste into road surfacing material.

However, when road builders changed from using tar as a binder to bitumen on roads, it created a surfactant, which became its first chemical product.

Its expertise now includes tyre and rubber additives in a performance chemicals division, while it also supplies an active ingredient that goes into cleaning agent Dettol.

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