Nova Graphene™ is currently working on a contract for the Canadian military to develop lightweight ballistic plating for personal protection using traditional construction with CarbonEra™ graphene enhancement.
Currently we are optimizing for Level III certification, as per National Institute of Justice (NIJ) standards, and upgrade that to Level IV in the near future.
Properties thus far include:
· lightweight (60-70% lighter than standard ceramic plates - light enough that they float);
· minimal spalling - rounds tend to be caught & held by the plates;
· UV resistant;
· water resistant;
· "Soldier-Proof" - unlike ceramic-based plates, can be dropped, thrown, and kicked without compromising structural integrity of the plate;
· can withstand direct impact from multiple rounds;
· Custom thermoformable options available.
Current ballistic protection systems – or “bullet-proof armor” – tend to be heavy, bulky, and limit mobility, agility and endurance. The current standard is a ceramic plate which is typically rated for one direct hit and weighs in at as much as 12 pounds.
Currently, our Level III plates are weighing in at 1.6kg grams (3.52 pounds), are flexible allowing for increased mobility and are demonstrating superior ballistic resistance of current plates – with R&D still underway, we anticipate end of research specification to quickly “disrupt” this sector – lighter, stronger – simply better!
Nova Graphene™ was chosen from an elite field to spearhead these important R&D efforts. We are honored to be working to provide improved ballistic & blast protection for the members of our military. As our production capability continues to expand, we also look forward to making our expanding line of products available to our allies, as well as to members of law enforcement.
From animal skins to advanced nano materials like graphene, we examine the evolution of ballistic armor through history.
Paul Beasant says the biggest challenge in working with graphene is not taking on too many projects, so incredible is the material’s potential.
Graphene is a form of powdered carbon.
“You don’t make things with graphene, you make other things better with it,” said Beasant, CEO of Nova Graphene, which is working on a $975,000 contract extension from the Department of National Defence to make lightweight ballistic (bullet proof) armour.
“Graphene is a unique form of carbon, just like diamond is a unique form of carbon. There are two main grades … kind of like filet mignon versus ground beef,” said Beasant, adding that the higher grade comes in at two million particles per gram of powder. “Many of these particles are just one layer, one atom thick, so in its purest form, the thinnest substance known to man.”
The graphene that is the company’s raw material is made through a proprietary, and renewable, process to exfoliate graphite without the use of chemicals. The DND project has the company working to develop 3D printable ballistic plates for use in bulletproof vests.
“What we’re doing is compounding these powders into different materials, specifically nylon and something called PEEK, polyether ether ketone, which is one of the strongest thermal plastics in the world. The graphene, when added, makes it even stronger and better than it was before,” Beasant said. “They’re typically a 10- by 12-inch chest plate, so they’re not the full vest, they’re what goes into the vest.”
Armour used by the military and police officers is “pretty much a standard size,” determined by the U.S.-based National Institute of Justice. Beasant says that is one of the most obvious areas that needs to be improved.
“Our end goal is that we’ll be able to do a body scan of the soldier or law enforcement officer and make sure their chest plate, their helmet, whatever, fits absolutely perfectly. The better the fit, the better the comfort level and mobility, the better your survivability,” he said. “They’re used by females, certainly, but there isn’t any accommodation for the female form. On that front, we’re getting a little extra attention because to be able to fit any body shape, whether you’re small, tall, female, male.”
The cost of a vest ranges from $500-$2,000, depending on brand and whether you’re stopping a handgun bullet or a sniper rifle.
COO Michael Wise said the Nova Graphene vests will be dramatically lighter than those currently on the market, which provides all kinds of benefits.
“Increased endurance, increased mobility, (improved) response time and increased survivability,” Wise said. “So, if we can reduce the weight of their kit, we’re going to contribute to a soldier being more effective in the field.”
A specialized 3D printer is on its way from Israel to Nova Graphene’s office in Burnside at a cost of $50,000.
The company recently finished two other defence-related contracts.
“One was to develop coatings for helicopter rotors that would minimize abrasive wear, and also provide additional UV and chemical resistance,” Beasant said. “The other helicopter thing we did is called a leading-edge strip. The very front edge of the blade is going through the air and obviously gets the most abuse, whether it be from ice pellets or sand or whatever.”
Nova Graphene is also finalizing a contract with Environment Canada to put graphene into tire rubber to minimize tire wear and consequently minimize the microplastics wearing off the tires and going into the environment.
The company employs five people right now, but that’s expected to double in a year.