OCSiAl, the Russian-founded global graphene nanotube leader, has inked an investment and business cooperation agreement with Japanese giant Daikin Industries. The companies disclosed OCSiAl’s valuation (“about $2bn”) but not the terms of the share subscription deal, reports East-West Digital News (EWDN).
Pronounced ‘Oxial,’ OCSiAl refers to four chemical elements: oxygen (O), carbon (C), silicon (Si) and aluminum (Al). Touted as the world’s only manufacturer of graphene nanotubes at a large scale, this company is the brainchild of Russian physicist Mikhail Predtechenskiy and three businessmen — Yury Koropachinskiy, Oleg Kirillov and Yury Zelvenskiy.
Having established their company in 2010 in Luxembourg, they garnered the support of several Russian investors, including Rusnano, the state-controlled nanotech giant ($60mn invested in 2012 and 2015); individual investor Igor Kim (2013, 2014); Moscow-based PE find Expo Capital (2019); and an undisclosed British investor (2019).
In 2019 A&NN Investment — an investment holding controlled by oligarch Alexander Mamut — put $5mn to acquire 0.5% of OCSiAl, purchasing a fraction of Rusnano’s stake.
Graphene nanotubes (also called single wall carbon nanotubes) are one-atom-thick graphene sheets rolled into tubes. Described for the first time by Japanese scientists, this high-performance material enables the creation of products with new properties. They are used for electrochemical power sources, elastomers, paints and coatings, composites and plastics. For example, OCSiAl says its nanotubes are used by all major Li-ion battery makers to develop cells for car manufacturers.
Quasi global monopoly
OCSiAl Group has more than 420 employees in facilities or offices in Europe, Russia, the USA, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. It claims a current annual production capacity of 80 metric tons, “accounting for 97% of the world’s graphene nanotube production capacity.”
The company launched its first industrial-scale facility for graphene nanotube synthesis in 2013, and presented its commercial product, ’Tuball,’ in 2014. A second facility for graphene nanotube synthesis followed in Novosibirsk. The first stage of a new synthesis facility in Luxembourg is scheduled to start in 2024; then a new research center will be established in Novosibirsk. Under plans, this Siberian project will allow the company to increase fourfold its graphene nanotube production.
OCSiAl and Daikin claim that their combined expertise and know-how “could result in a fundamental shift in the global industry.” The two companies will “develop, produce, and market graphene nanotube solutions for next-generation Li-ion batteries and fluoropolymers,” — which comprise a substantial part of Daikin’s business.
“Graphene nanotubes demonstrate exceptional performance and definitive advantages over standard additives, opening-up new horizons for these applications,” the companies stated.
This article first appeared in East-West Digital News (EWDN), a bne IntelliNews partner publication.