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Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd.

Thomas Swan

Industry Challenge

Thomas Swan is a leading independent manufacturer of performance and speciality chemicals, manufacturing over 100 commercial products and exports to over 80 countries worldwide.

Graphene is well recognised as the wonder material of modern science and was the focus of the Nobel Prize in 2010. It has unique properties and is both the strongest and most conductive material known to man. Potential applications for graphene are wide ranging and include next generation electronic devices, mechanically strengthened plastics and new thermoelectric materials.

Production of pristine, high quality graphene on an industrial scale is a significant challenge to industry. The development of a graphene manufacturing process is the latest venture for Thomas Swan's Advanced Materials Division which already manufactures industrial grades of single-wall carbon nanomaterials.

Trinity Value Add

Thomas Swan has funded an industrial focussed research project collaborating with Trinity Professor Jonathan Coleman in CRANN, Trinity’s Nanoscience Research Institute, utilising Prof Coleman’s expertise in the field of graphene production to develop methods to produce high quality pure graphene on an industrial scale.

Thomas Swan has placed a processing engineer in CRANN for two years. This ensures the programme is continually aligned to the company's strategy and also provides Thomas Swan oversight on the full portfolio of research within CRANN allowing them to ascertain if these technologies would be of value to the company. This partnership is a model for how world leading technology developed by academia can be identified and commercially exploited to provide both economic and societal benefit.

Critical Trinity Enablers

  • Materials, knowledge and expertise
  • Synthesis, processing and advanced characterisation of nanomaterials
  • Mechanical, optical and electrical testing of nanomaterials
  • Training of industry staff and the transfer of commercially valuable knowledge
  • Advanced microscopy for materials characterisation

Engagement Type

A direct industry funded project which gives the company a strong voice in collaborative or contract research projects and bypasses the need to wait for funding calls.


An extremely successful project expected to deliver a scaled-up production process to Thomas Swan under licence in 2014. Because of the high quality of the graphene produced by this process, it is likely that this will allow Thomas Swan to become one of the largest global suppliers of high-end graphene.

"Our partnership with Trinity has resulted in a new globally leading process for the scalable production of graphene. The outcome of this research will be the availability of high quality graphene in large quantities for the first time. This major breakthrough opens up significant new commercial markets for our business; and demonstrates the power of partnering with world leading research institutions"

Harry Swan, Managing Director, Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd