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Electrochemical method of producing nano-scaled graphene platelets

A method of producing nano-scaled graphene platelets with an average thickness smaller than 30 nm from a layered graphite material. The method comprises (a) forming a carboxylic acid-intercalated graphite compound by an electrochemical reaction which uses a carboxylic acid as both an electrolyte and an intercalate source, the layered graphite material as an anode material, and a metal or graphite as a cathode material, and wherein a current is imposed upon the cathode and the anode at a current density for a duration of time sufficient for effecting the electrochemical reaction; (b) exposing the intercalated graphite compound to a thermal shock to produce exfoliated graphite; and (c) subjecting the exfoliated graphite to a mechanical shearing treatment to produce the nano-scaled graphene platelets. Preferred carboxylic acids are formic acid and acetic acid. The exfoliation step in the instant invention does not involve the evolution of undesirable species, such as NOx and SOx, which are common by-products of exfoliating conventional sulfuric or nitric acid-intercalated graphite compounds. The nano-scaled platelets are candidate reinforcement fillers for polymer nanocomposites. Nano-scaled graphene platelets are much lower-cost alternatives to carbon nano-tubes or carbon nano-fibers.
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