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Thunder Bay mining company partners with Western University

Research project will study graphene for enhanced plastic

THUNDER BAY -- Zenyatta Ventures and Western University of London, Ontario are collaborating on research into developing an advanced plastic.

The Thunder Bay-based mining company says the project headed by Dr. Takashi Kuboki, an assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, will use graphene-oxide from the company's deposit north of Highway 11 near Hearst.

Graphene, a nanomaterial first discovered in 2004, has unique strength, electrical and thermal properties which Zenyatta says could help produce a lightweight, enhanced polymer composite material attractive to the automotive, aerospace and construction industries.

In a news release, the company said it recently had "significant success" using its graphene to improve compressive and tensile strength of concrete in Israel, and enhanced rubber composites in the United Kingdom.

The venture with Kuboki, it said, could enhance its business opportunities as a graphene nanomaterial supplier for the polymer composite market as well.

According to the news release, during the research and testing conducted by a team at Western led by Kuboki, injection-molded plastic will be manufactured using Zenyatta's graphene as an additive.

"Many industries, including aerospace and automotive...strive to adopt new technology components made from plastics or polymer composites to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency but maintain strength," Kuboki was quoted in the company's news release.

The project has been funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.